Our Common Future Under Climate Change

International Scientific Conference 7-10 JULY 2015 Paris, France

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Wednesday 8 July - 14:30-16:00 UNESCO Fontenoy - ROOM IV

2239 -Co-production of knowledge : How to interact to produce climate adaptation research, between scientific communities and stakeholders, at local or international, also between North and South countries?

Parallel Session

Lead Convener(s): M. Imbard (Ministère de l'écologie, du developpement durable et de l'énergie, La Défense, France)

Convener(s): D. Salles (IRSTEA , Bordeaux, France), C. Buffet (Centre Alexandre Koyré (EHESS/CNRS), Paris, France), C. Bakhache (ECOFOR, Paris, France)


Unpacking the co-production of knowledge in adaptation to climate change

S. Dessai (University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom), S. Beck (Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research − UFZ , Leipzig, Germany), J. Porter (University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom), J. Van Der Sluijs (University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway)

Abstract details
Unpacking the co-production of knowledge in adaptation to climate change

S. Dessai (1) ; S. Beck (2) ; J. Porter (1) ; J. Van Der Sluijs (3)
(1) University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom; (2) Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research ? UFZ , Leipzig, Germany; (3) University of Bergen, Centre for the study of the sciences and the humanities (svt), Bergen, Norway

Abstract content

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been instrumental in raising political awareness of climate change at the global level, whilst the knowledge produced by the IPCC and other high level scientific programmes is seen as relevant it’s not always “usable” for decision-making at the local and regional level where adaptation to climate change is crucial. Despite advances in climate science and adaptation policy, critical understandings of which approaches can most effectively harness science and technology for long-term sustainable adaptation is still lacking. “Usability” of science cannot be taken for granted. In order to fill the gap between the supply of scientific findings and its demand at different levels of decision-making, co-production has become a key concept guiding major international research initiatives. “Co-production” has a myriad of meanings, some practical-organizational orientated others social-philosophical. This talk aims to unpack how, why, and to what extent, the concept of co-production can inform scholarly debates and practical exercises on adaptation to an uncertain future climate. The talk is informed by a recent international workshop on the topic and empirical work conducted in the United Kingdom on the construction and use of climate change projections in long-term adaptation decision-making.


Climate change adaptation: towards a new geography of knowledge?

S. Huq (International Center for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD), Dhaka, Bangladesh), C. Buffet (Centre Alexandre Koyré (EHESS/CNRS), Paris, France)

Abstract details
Climate change adaptation: towards a new geography of knowledge?

C. Buffet (1) ; S. Huq (2)
(1) Centre Alexandre Koyré (EHESS/CNRS), Paris, France; (2) International Center for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD), Dhaka, Bangladesh

Abstract content

Facing critics and distrusts towards a “Northern Science” accused to mainly follow Northern interests (Lahsen, 2004), IPCC strove to better include Southern Scientists in report production (Dahan, 2008). However, as noted in its fifth report (WGII), there remains a North-South inequality in research production and access, in spite of a raising involvement of Southern Scientists. This discrepancy is both rooted in research funding and limits of capacity (Burkett, et al., 2014).

The issue is thus particularly sharp for Least Developed Countries (LDCs), who are both the less responsible, the most affected and the less in capacity to forecast and respond to the impacts of climate change.

In parallel, this perspective led to a progressive construction of Southern capacities, both within UNFCCC (LDC expert group), Ministries (focal points to implement NAPAs) and among civil society (academics, think tanks, NGOs). Beyond North-South cooperation for technological transfers and impact model regionalisation, the emergence of “bottom-up” approaches since 15 years, in particular "Community-based adaptation", deeply changed adaptation framing: this approach involves humanities and social sciences, jointly with the population and authorities actually living the models and striving to adapt.

Through examples from Bangladesh, one of the “hot spots” of adaptation, this talk aims at underlining the current development of Southern capacities that contribute to a “new geography of knowledge”.


Developing robust adaptation strategies: the importance of embodied knowledge, local knowledge and place attachment

P. Castro (ISCTE-IUL, Lisbon, Portugal), R. Lidskog (Örebro University, Orebro, Sweden)

Abstract details
Developing robust adaptation strategies: the importance of embodied knowledge, local knowledge and place attachment

R. Lidskog (1) ; P. Castro (2)
1) Örebro University, Environmental sociology section, Orebro, Sweden; (2) ISCTE-IUL, social psychology, Lisbon, Portugal

Abstract content

This presentation focuses on the importance of including local knowledge in developing strategies for climate change adaptation. The background for this focus is that  the current intertwining of, and reliance on, legal-institutional and scientific expertise in environmental policy-making often leaves little room for inputs from actors on local levels, although these many times possess detailed and relevant knowledge. Regarding climate change adaptation, research in both rural and coastal areas has recently shown how meaning and identity bonds to places (expressed in place memories, norms, narratives, identities and motives) indeed matter for adaptation. Whereas a number of studies have been conducted around place (mainly in terms of place identity, sense of place and place attachment) one thread seems however to be conspicuously missing: that of place knowledge proper. A reason for this maybe the epistemic division of labor in our societies where local knowledge is re-defined as a subjective and cultural construct, contrasting it with the “real”, objective and universal knowledge provided by scientific expertise. At the same time there is an increased recognition both in science and society that environmental problems require elements of local knowledge for their solution; contextually generated knowledge about local circumstances and local practices are relevant because global risks always have local and place-specific implications. Local knowledge is bond to place through its relation to living; people live in specific places and gain embodied knowledge (not least in the form of routines  and habits) about how things are and work in their local surroundings.

This kind of relations to place developed and supported through knowledge and their implications for addressing climate change adaptation are discussed by using findings from two different studies in rural areas; i) a focus group study of farmers (N=50) conducted in Natura 2000 areas of importance for climate change adaptation; ii) a study of professional expertise (N=20) that try to persuade forest owners to consider climate change in their forest practices and a study of  forest owners (N=15) in forest areas that are prognosticated to be heavily affected by climate change. Through these empirical studies, it is possible to gain knowledge both on how professional expertise try to approach lay actors on local level and on how farmers and forest owners acknowledge their situation as well as evaluate and handle knowledge claims for changed action provided by expertise. The analysis finds a number of strategies through which farmers and forest owners evaluate and negotiate expert claims, resulting in partial appropriation and partial rejection of them. By reclaiming their local knowledge, accentuating how this knowledge binds them to particular places and expressing their embodied and (em)placed knowledge, they re-signify and re-contextualise the original expert advice.

 A central finding of this study is that it is not knowledge as a product or property, but as practice that matters when addressing issues of local adaptation to a changed climate. The reason for this is that knowledge is not distributed and transferred in a mechanical way, but is instead actively appropriated and thereby also transformed. In this dynamic process, different kinds of epistemic bonds are central. Thus, by focussing on knowledge practices – how knowledge is developed and appropriated in different institutional and spatial settings – the knowers and his/her knowing are put at the centre, and these practices constitute an important condition for developing adaptive strategies and measures to be implemented locally.


Blending local and scientific knowledge to support innovative action by community-based institutions to adapt to global change

R. Reid (Colorado State University, Fort Collins, United States of America)

Abstract details
Blending local and scientific knowledge to support innovative action by community-based institutions to adapt to global change

R. Reid (1)
(1) Colorado State University, Dept. of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability, Fort Collins, United States of America

Abstract content

Today, scientists, government officials, community members and non-profits work together to blend different knowledges and apply this joint understanding to real world problems concerning global change in local social-ecological systems around the world.  This transdisciplinary work often starts with explorations of different ways of knowing and what constitutes ‘truth’ in the cultures of research, practice and those of other stakeholders.  Teams of ‘boundary spanners’ often lead this work and attempt to not only reach across disciplinary boundaries in academia, but the many institutional, jurisdictional, political and other boundaries that occur in practice when working in social-ecological systems. 


At the community level, innovative institutions are arising to improve the sustainability of local systems, sometimes strengthened by the decentralization and devolution of power in different settings globally.  These institutions are often led by local community members collaborating with diverse stakeholders at different scales.  This is creating a revolution in the ability of local actors to respond to global and climate change in local land-, lake- and sea-scapes.


Here, I describe some principles and examples of the models that different transdisciplinary teams are using around the world to bring together diverse knowledges and create innovative solutions to global change problems.  These include different practical methods like workshops to brainstorm research questions and methods, practitioner or landowner-led research projects, integrated practitioner-researcher field teams, ‘what does it mean’ workshops to interpret data, and co-production of knowledge products.  I then review several models for integrating different knowledge sources and co-producing knowledge, based on case studies. I will conclude with a description of future directions for co-production and the potential for co-produced knowledge to be a catalyst for social change when working on global change issues.



Building Institutional Capacity for Climate Change Policy: The Chilean Experience in Co-producing knowledge for acting

P. Calfucoy (MAPS Programme, Santiago, Chile)

Abstract details
Building Institutional Capacity for Climate Change Policy: The Chilean Experience in Co-producing knowledge for acting

P. Calfucoy (1)
(1) MAPS Programme, MAPS Chile, Santiago, Chile

Abstract content


Chile, as part of its climate change policy, assumed in 2010 the challenge of generating evidence nationwide to project long-term scenarios and options for mitigation of greenhouse gases (GHGs), in order to support its position in the international negotiations on issues of climate change and simultaneously, evaluate alternatives that contribute to a low carbon development for the country.

This effort, was materialized in MAPS - Chile, a project of South-South cooperation with South Africa, Brazil, Colombia and Peru, in which a process of scientific research was integrated with multi stakeholder participation to estimate the baseline emissions of the country and to evaluate mitigation actions and scenarios that might contribute to a low carbon development path.

MAPS Chile integrated a logic of co-production of knowledge with the participation of national scientist, policy makers and experts from the academia, the public sector and NGO`s under the coordination and policy guidance of the State of Chile. The project was successful, giving its results were used to define the Contribution proposal to be presented at COP 21.

From the perspective of sociology of science and technology, the analysis of this experience seeks to deepen in the understanding of mechanisms and methodologies for the formulation of policies on climate change in developing countries. Centered on the concept of Co-production (Jasenof, 2010), the analysis focuses on the governance structure of the project, the strategic decisions, and the methodology that articulated the interaction between institutions and individuals who participated, to finally identify the main strengths and weaknesses to inform climate change policy in developing countries.

The methodological approach for the study was qualitative.  I apply content analysis using secondary data together with discourse analysis from semi-structured interviews that allowed knowing the perceptions and opinions of the participants in the project.

Among the main results of the study, I highlight:

i) The valuation of the participants of the process of opening the black box of modeling. The co-production of knowledge was understood as the exercise of defining between the scientist and the stakeholders the main assumptions, evaluating in conjunction the quality and availability information and making explicit the scope and limitations of the methodologies used. This, according to interviewees, allowed a better understanding for non-experts of the constraints and opportunities for sectorial and macroeconomic modeling.  Additionally, this process provided credibility and validity to the results, while recognizing the levels of uncertainty intrinsic to this type of research. The methodology generated procedural legitimacy to the results. The agreements thorough the participation process about the key parameters that will be used in the modeling process, facilitate the recognition of the results. The project successfully validate their interim decisions and to rest the legitimacy and validity of their results in their agreements.

ii) The valuation of the participants regarding integrating local knowledge: The process of building the results with the participation of local researchers and experts contributed to a better understanding of the micro dynamics of the sectors, a better understanding of the country's productive structure for estimating emissions and the technological and feasibility constraints. In particular, the discussion about the penetration rates of potential mitigation actions are valued as an exercise done by the incumbent people and not imposed by external actors, outside the country's reality.

iii) The valuation of strengthening decision-making in the public sphere by enriching the understanding of the causes of the problems, their dynamics and implications. The exercise of co-production facilitated the socialization of complex results because of the opportunity of learning gradually in the process. It includes the "opportunity to learn from the dynamics of other sectors", "the opportunity to visualize areas of complementarity with other colleagues and topics" "The opportunity to learn from methodological tools".