The launch event of Climate Knowledge Broker’s (CKB) ‘Manifesto’, hosted by ODI and chaired by Geoff Bernard (CDKN) set out the vital role of climate knowledge brokers and addresses challenges they face. Do users know where to go to get the correct information? Who and what should they trust?
“Everyone makes decisions based on climate knowledge” – a key assertion by Florian Bauer the lead author of the Manifesto. Do those who produce the information know who the users are, what they need, how to present their findings and who else might be working on the same topics? Stakeholder Mapping and Engagement Strategies, along with a Theory of Change and RiU planning across CARIAA Consortia should provide a strong basis to identify relevant stakeholders and the methods for communication.
Some users of climate knowledge use it without knowing (unaware users), some use the wrong information and some are so overloaded with information they don’t know how to extract the relevant message. The role of knowledge brokers is to synthesis, contextualise and enrich, working across multiple sectors and disciplines. But who are they and where are they found? Is ‘Climate Knowledge Broker’ a job title? Is it another name for Research into Use or Pathway to Impact?
We heard that the scale is huge – almost everyone is a decision maker! Messages must be tailored, by understanding the users’ needs and ever increasingly, collaboration is vital. One organisation or project can’t be successful on its own – partnerships are needed. In CARIAA there is a premise that working as a consortium, and as part of a wider programme has benefits over small, perhaps isolated research activities. CKB’s thoughts that ‘joined up’ efforts are needed would seem to validate this format.
Behavioural change and social learning by both researchers and decision makers has evolved rapidly and changed the remit of CKBs. Cohesion between activities is vital – Claire Scott provided an example of the Gobeshna initiative in Bangladesh that brings together many players to share and build capacity. Information can be shared widely, but knowledge only comes through learning.
Roger Street (ECI Oxford and UKCIP) emphasised that science needed to be user driven, with information shared through multiple methods and forums. Translating data into useful information is an ongoing challenge. The Met Office explained how they increasingly go out and present their work in other fields and sectors to enable them to learn how to distill the information them produce into effective messages. The challenge of how to “Simplify really good credible science” into usable messages that can be translated to action on the ground.
This got me thinking; based in an academic institute, I wonder how best we can respond to the urgency that users express when needing information. By the time data collection has been completed, analysis done, a journal paper drafted, submitted, reviewed, rewritten and published do we miss the chance to respond to the ‘urgent’ in a robust scientific way? Can the process be quickened and what other channels can be used that don’t limit integrity or quality of research?
Secondly, the language and relevance of a journal paper isn’t always the most appropriate way to reach an audience. A good communication plan should identify targeted audiences and focus on the most relevant and appropriate channel to reach them. The language used is critical, especially when the results of one sector (e.g. hydrology) need to be understood and translated into another sector (e.g. agriculture) taking into account local context. Chains of knowledge brokers are needed to pass on the information – validating the need for networks and relationship building.
What is the difference between ‘data’, ‘information’ and ’knowledge’? This question was posed by a member of the audience. I knew the answer had to do with learning – and was ratified by the panel’s response. Knowledge is learning from information. A book is information, but knowledge is the utilisation of information – it is not written down but held by people.
Focusing my thoughts on DECCMA I wondered how often academics and researchers release a paper and think our job is done? Do researchers have a responsibility to apply their work and see it is taken up? If not, whose responsibility is it? Utilising structures such as Research into Use and Theory of Change the project has an idea of the ultimate goal and change that is desired (a joint understanding between stakeholders and researchers) but the question still remains – whose responsibility is it? Are we all Knowledge Brokers’ or is this a role/job title for a specific person or group?
There is plenty here for DECCMA’s WP1 (Stakeholder Engagement) and RiU to consider and learn from!
Download CKBs Manifesto at http://www.climateknowledgebrokers.net/manifesto/