ASSAR launches MOOC on Research for Impact

DECCMA’s sister project in the Collaborative Adaptation Research Initiative in Africa and Asia (CARIAA), Adaptation at Scale in Semi-Arid Regions (ASSAR) has launched a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Research for Impact. The MOOC, available on Coursera, is convened by the University of Cape Town and Oxfam GB and comprises three main learning objectives:

  • Understand the key interwoven elements of Research for Impact in the context of development and adaptation research.

  • Identify the suite of activities involved in Research for Impact.

  • Appraise opportunities in your research plan through an Research for Impact lens and identify challenges applying a Research for Impact approach.

    The 15 hour course with flexible deadlines is free to take (with a fee payable if you require a certificate) and includes experiences from the other CARIAA projects, including DECCMA.

Finding Thanos (from Avengers: Infinity War) in a climate change research project

by Sumana Banerjee

Bitten by the Marvel bug, I wasted no time to catch a showing of Avengers: Infinity War before the spoilers started filling my social media timelines. This post obviously does not contain any spoilers-but rather shares how a cool movie like Avengers made my brain think of some research project oriented lessons.

(photo: Lylesmoviefiles.com)

Working for DECCMA has trained me to be attuned to the mention of themes related to environmental change, sustainability, and resource use. So when Thanos shared his grand vision of salvaging the universe from overpopulation which leads to resource scarcity, I was all ears for this Marvel villain. The SDGs started flashing in my mind as some could be realised by his grand vision (after some thought I feel at least these would apply Р2 for Zero Hunger, 12 for Responsible Consumption and Production and 13 for Climate Action).  Before I could finish counting the SDGs, Thanos revealed his strategy to implement his vision, which was to kill half the universe! It goes without saying that our proposed strategies in DECCMA are very different to his…

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This was clearly playing on my mind, and it was much later when it struck me that I have encountered glimpses of Thanos in people when it comes to teamwork and the linkages between grand visions and implementation plans. I surely do not mean that the team members wanted to kill off half the universe-or the team for that matter. But in the real world of research projects, teams must manage competing priorities, worldviews and disciplinary training of their members in order to build consensus on how to achieve common goals. In other words ‚Äď the grand vision is achieved by collectively defining the implementation plan.

Effective teamwork and leadership often have the ‚Äúfive C‚Äôs‚ÄĚ where character, competency, chemistry, compatible vision, and capacity feature. All these C‚Äôs are integral to any kind of teamwork and external efforts can improve these, with the exception of character.¬† For a change in character, it has to be internally-motivated and enabled. Since research teams often have young researchers, it may be worthwhile to share good practices which can help build the character necessary for effective (and enjoyable!) teamwork. It is important for leaders and senior researchers to instill in the young members the importance of the following –

Communication

Talking, and more importantly listening, will help in exchange of perspectives, problem-solving, and generation of new ideas. Scheduling formal or informal meetings, depending on the work culture, amongst researchers can facilitate better work. As researchers it is important to understand that the concept of ‚Äúhearing all voices‚ÄĚ and gender sensitivity should not be limited to talking to more women in a stakeholder workshop. Just like charity begins at home, it is important to apply these principles in the team environment, providing a space that welcomes and actively encourages all voices within the team irrespective of sex, seniority, background and profile.

Acknowledgement

It is a good practice to acknowledge the support of anyone who has positively contributed to help your work. Academic papers are the core currency of research careers, and authorship should reflect contributions. In DECCMA we follow Vancouver rules, which state that people should only be named as authors when they have contributed substantively to the conceptualisation and research design or execution and at least some part to the writing.¬† Vancouver rules partly address implicit norms in some research environments, where there is an expectation that being senior in age and position warrants being named as an author, regardless of (lack of) contribution.¬† It may be good to keep in mind that naming authors in outputs is not akin to signing a greetings card where everybody‚Äôs name should be there!¬† Instead acknowledgements are there to appreciate efforts that enabled the work to happen without direct inputs ‚Äď for example funders are usually (gratefully) acknowledged.

Publications are the end of a research process in which acknowledgement is also important, and often overlooked. For example it is good practice to acknowledge the support of people who enabled fieldwork and research to take place ‚Äď which includes those involved in organisation as well as those interviewees and survey participants that provided the data to analyse. ¬†It is also important to understand the difference between support and contribution.

Dealing with disappointment

Working in teams often involves many members applying to the same conferences but not all who applied get selected. In such cases, researchers should put aside any individual disappointment and rather be glad for the recognition that comes from being part of the team whose research is profiled.

Addressing Differences

Teams are composed of people with different backgrounds and, increasingly, from different countries ‚Äď such that interdisciplinary teams are often an eclectic mix. This creates exciting opportunities for appreciating different worldviews and expertise.¬† However, the flip side of this is that conflicts can arise relating to the respective norms and behaviours that are constructed in different contexts. It should always be kept in mind that everybody has something to offer and the more we try to learn from the positives, the more we grow as individuals. If a conflict over an issue carries on, it is best to let it rest for a while and then come back to it with a fresh perspective.

Without this getting too preachy, I would like to end this on a positive note. Thanos had concerns which echo the reality of our current world, but what made him the bad guy was his proposed way of implementing his vision, not the vision itself. The thought of killing half the universe just because he acquired the power was not only autocratic and heinous also the easiest thing to do. How I wish Peter Parker could tell him – ‚ÄúWith great power comes great responsibilities.‚ÄĚ In research teams we have the opportunity (and responsibility) to come up with more effective implementation plans for the same vision of a better world.

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Come and hear more about DECCMA research at Adaptation Futures 2018

DECCMA researchers will be participating in the following sessions at Adaptation Futures 2018 in Cape Town:

Monday 18th June

Robert Nicholls will participate in S80 on “Adaptive coastal planning-sharing techniques, tools and experiences”, run by Deltares (parallel session 2, 1500-1700, room 2.64).

Tuesday 19th June

Ricardo Safra de Campos will participate S39 on “Early experiences with managed retreat”, run by Stanford University (parallel session 4, 1415-1600, room 1.43).

Wednesday 20th June

Shouvik Das will participate in S92 on “Multidimensional Framework and Response Matrix for Migration”, run by¬†Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF)(early session, 0800-0900, room 2.63)

Katharine Vincent will give a presentation “Gendered adaptation in deltas: Who decides, who benefits, and who loses?” in S64 “What enables adaptation of women in climate hotspots?”, run by IDRC (parallel session 6, 0915-1100, room 1.63).

Katharine Vincent will give a presentation¬†“The process of developing adaptation policy trajectories in the DECCMA project” in S200 “Evidence-based guiding principles for developing adaptation pathways to inform adaptation policy and practice in the context of development”, run by Wageningen University¬†¬†(parallel session 7, 1415-1600, room 2.41).

Katharine Vincent will give a presentation “Changing attitudes and behaviours among members of a consortium” in S195 “Research for Impact: Dynamic approaches, experiences and lessons on research uptake” (parallel session 8, 1630-1815, room 1.42).

Thursday 21st June

Kwasi Appeaning-Addo will give a presentation on the DECCMA project in Ghana in S180 “Towards an adaptive climate proof freshwater supply in salinising deltas and possible solutions for deltas worldwide: examples from The Netherlands, Ghana, Vietnam and Bangladesh”, run by¬†Netherlands Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management¬†¬†(parallel session 11, 1415-1600, room 1.62).

Robert Nicholls, Katharine Vincent and Ricardo Safra de Campos will participate in a joint DECCMA-Western Indian Ocean Deltas Exchange Network (WIODER)-Delta Alliance session “Adaptation practice and experience in deltas in the global south”. Robert will chair the session, Katharine will make a presentation “Documenting observed adaptations in deltaic Ghana, India and Bangladesh” and Ricardo will make a presentation “Migration as an adaptation” (parallel session 11, 1415-1600, room 1.64).

DECCMA and HI-AWARE jointly convene stakeholder workshop with WARPO to disseminate Bangladesh research findings

by Saiful Alam

A joint stakeholder workshop was arranged by DECCMA and HI-AWARE to present Bangladesh research findings. The meeting took place at the Water Resources Planning Organisation (WARPO) in Dhaka on 17th January 2018. Attendees included the Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Forest and the Environment, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Planning, Housing Authority, Local Government Division, and UNDP.

DECCMA Bangladesh Principal Investigator, Professor Munsur Rahman, and Co-Principal Investigator, Professor Mashfiqus Salehin, made a joint keynote presentation on ‚ÄėAdaptation and Migration in GBM Delta, Bangladesh‚Äô. HI-AWARE Bangladesh Principal Investigator, Md. Abu Syed, made a keynote presentation on ‚ÄėClimate resilience and adaptation in Teesta sub-Basin of Brahmaputra Basin‚Äô.

Stakeholders provided inputs to highlight their particular areas of interest in DECCMA findings. Among the key themes were an understanding of the reasons for migration, quantifying negative and positive impacts, and projections for the future-to add to those already outlined in the Delta Plan 2100. There was also interest in modelling the impact of climate change on the economy, as is being undertaken within DECCMA, led by the Bc3 Basque Centre for Climate Change, and supporting the use of models at local (upazila) level.

Mainstreaming climate change into district plans and budgets in Ghana

by Prosper Adiku

DECCMA used a dissemination and validation workshop to also build capacity on mainstreaming climate change. The workshop was attended by district officials, traditional leaders and community representatives from nine districts in the Volta delta of Ghana.

Winfred Nelson of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) and the DECCMA governance team presented on how to factor climate change into issues into planning and budgeting processes during the preparation of the short-term (2-year) Medium Term Development Plans at the district and municipal assembly levels.

Ghana meeting (photo: Klaus Wohlmann)

The ethos of the workshop was participatory, with the community participants and district officers sharing their perception of climate change impacts, before discussion turned to potential personal and collective responses at adaptation and mitigation.

With regards to mainstreaming, officials indicated that although climate change issues are not treated separately in planning and budgeting processes, the challenge arises with the integration process due to the low levels of awareness of climate change and perceived.  Mr Nelson highlighted the opportunities to secure extra-budgetary adaptation funding if climate change is effectively mainstreamed.

DECCMA team discusses the forthcoming Bangladesh Delta Plan with the country’s Planning Commission

by Saiful Alam

The Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100 (BDP) takes an adaptive management approach and the strategy is based on eight hotspots in the country, one of which is covered within the DECCMA study area. In a meeting with Professor Shamsul Alam, Member Secretary of the Global Economic Department in the Planning commission, the DECCMA Bangladesh team highlighted how project findings can inform the plan.

DECCMA Bangladesh PI Professor Munsur Rahman presents Professor Shamsul of the Planning Commission with the latest project publications

DECCMA’s research is helping to build deeper understanding of the cross sectoral adaptation that will be required in future. Dr Michele Leone, who oversees DECCMA for the International Development Research Centre, outlined the inventory of adaptations and findings of autonomous adaptations in the household survey would inform the implementation the Bangladesh Delta Plan.

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DECCMA Bangladesh Deputy PI, Dr Mashfiqus Salehin, added that the focus of DECCMA on migration has created significant insights who migrates, where, and with what consequences, and that the findings will be integrated into a model that will project changes in the delta in the context of climate change.

Referring to the linkages between adaptation and economic growth, Professor Alam said that the  Bangladesh Delta Plan makes significant progress compared to earlier water sector plans, by forging linkages between adaptation and economic development and growth in the country.  Professor Alam reiterated that for improved adaptation we need improved knowledge through multi-disciplinary research and innovations, and welcomed a Ganges Brahmaputra Meghna Delta Brief from the team, which summarises research findings to date.

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