Luigi Ponti, Research Scientist, ENEA, MED-GOLD Coordination Team

Can you describe MED-GOLD in a few words?

MED-GOLD is about turning climate-related information into added value for traditional Mediterranean grape, olive and durum wheat food systems. In Europe, there is a large amount of climate-related information that comes from different sources including satellites, observations and climate models, which we altogether describe as the Earth Observing programs (e.g. Copernicus is the European program). There seems to be a problem in turning that large amount of climate information into value for the society, and particularly for agriculture. In MED-GOLD, We are trying to address that interface between data & information and their value for society.

Why is important to involve users in the development of MED-GOLD climate services?

When we talk about a lack of value, we mean a lack of value FOR the users. For this reason, we have taken the approach of starting from the needs of the users and we have been co-developing and designing the project together with them. This ensures that the services developed are of value to them.

Which have been the main challenges so far?

Basically, we have encountered the same challenges that motivated the call. The fact that climate data still doesn’t have enough value for society was only a theoretical concept for us when we read the call, but as the project is developing we are facing and dealing with this problem in practice. There are also problems with the terminology. I am an agronomist and I have realized that we, scientists, use words that have different meanings depending on the field of expertise. We have realized that we first need to agree on definitions, and for that, there is a whole process that needs to occur. In this sense, we have organized a workshop about the user perceptions on skill of climate forecasts.

What is your assessment of the last General Assembly?

I think that the General Assembly went far beyond our expectations. It was really great. The effort that Sogrape put into organizing it was incredible. For me, the major goal of a general assembly is building the team. The social part is far beyond the technical objectives that we put forward. The social part of an event like this, where everybody puts effort, invests resources and travels from distinct locations to gather in the same physical place, is wonderful. I am really happy about the way our project is developing.