Using strategic narratives to help integrate CCA & DRR

25–26 October 2017

Join us for a two-day workshop to explore the development and use of strategic narratives to integrate climate change adaptation (CCA) and disaster risk reduction (DRR) communities. Integration will help to enhance resilience to weather-related extreme events, decrease intervention costs and promote effective actions.

The workshop is aimed at practitioners, policymakers and scientists working in:

  • community preparedness for flooding
  • landscape management for wildfire protection

Participants will benefit from:

  • learning about the characteristics and context for using strategic narratives in CCA and DRR
  • an insight into terminology and framings that can influence narratives
  • experience with tools to support the use of narratives for collaboration.


Why this workshop?

The work of the CCA and DRR communities overlap, often framing risks and solutions differently which results in divergences in policy and planning processes. For example, CCA professionals deal with wildfires through adapting nature-based management, while DRR professionals use early warning communication tools and fire suppression actions to limit the impacts. Better collaboration between CCA and DRR can be complementary and mutually beneficial, decreasing the costs of intervention, improving decision-making and increasing the effectiveness of action.

At PLACARD, we believe that strategic narratives can play an important role in fostering this collaboration. Narratives, or learning through stories, have the potential to encourage specific actions and bring together different communities. Strategic narratives aim for a change to specific desired and sustained behaviour as shown in a number of scientific studies. However, the understanding is fragmented and not yet demonstrated in the fields of CCA and DRR.

Our workshop is part of an ongoing process to explore the potential of strategic narratives.


We will explore the use, characteristics and conditions of ‘strategic narratives’ to encourage the collaboration between policymakers, practitioners and experts:

  • Community preparedness to foods & heavy rainfall: How can we overcome the current focus on technological and economic responses to extreme events like floods and heavy rainfall that obscure more people-focused solutions? How can we use narratives to encourage urban citizens to take climate-proof disaster protection measures?
  • Landscape management for wildfire prevention: How can we use narratives to bring expertise and experience from different CCA and DRR actors together to optimise nature-based management?

We will reflect, learn and build up a common understanding.


Discussions from the workshop will be translated into building blocks that can contribute to guidelines on the use and development of strategic narratives. These can then be used to foster collaboration in CCA and DRR.

The gathered understanding will result in policy briefs or scientific journal articles to promote the use of strategic narratives. PLACARD will disseminate the workshop findings widely to research organisations and policymakers.

Mixed workshop format:

Break-out sessions, group work and discussion.

Inspiring talks and coaching by international experts:

  • Karen O’Brien – University of Oslo, Norway
  • Art Dewulf – Wageningen University & Research, the Netherlands
  • Sukaina Bharwani and Julia Barrott – Stockholm Environment Institute, UK
  • Ingrid Coninx – Wageningen University & Research, the Netherlands
  • Julia Bentz – Faculty of Sciences, University of Lisboa, Portugal
  • Reimund Schwarze – Helmholtz-Zentrum für Umweltforschung (UFZ), Germany
25 October
Introduction, meeting objectives, programme and participants.
The story behind the story: values, perceptions behind narratives
09:30 Welcome and introduction
Getting to know each other
Presentation: why narratives?
10:00 Break-out groups I:
Exploring perceptions and values
11:00 Tea break
11:30 Plenary talk: Values and perceptions in strategic narratives
Karen O’Brien, University of Oslo
12:00 Reflection
12:30 Lunch
13:30 Break-out groups II:
Narratives used in community preparedness and landscape management for wildfire prevention
14:15 Reflection by the PLACARD team
Julia Bentz
14:45 Tea break
Developing narratives: conditions for successful implementation, impact of geographical, institutional and cultural differences, participatory approaches to develop narratives
15:15 Break out groups III:
Building promising narratives for community preparedness and landscape management for wildfire prevention
16:15 Reflection by PLACARD team
Ingrid Coninx
17:00 Close
26 October
Exploring sense-making tools that help to use or develop strategic narratives
09:00 Plenary talk: Sense making tools for multi-stakeholder collaboration
Art Dewulf, Wageningen University & Research
09:45 Visualising a harmonized language and landscape for CCA and DRR
Sukaina Bharwani and Julia Barrott, Stockholm Environment Institute
10:15 Tea break
10:45 Break out groups IV (part 1):
Exploring sensemaking support tools for CCA and DRR multi-stakeholder collaboration
11:30 Break out groups IV (part 2):
Exploring sensemaking support tools for CCA and DRR multi-stakeholder collaboration
12:15 Reflection facilitated by PLACARD team
12:45 Lunch
Strategic narratives as governance tool: How to use strategic narratives as soft governance tool for transformative action in practice, policy and science?
13:45 Break out groups V:
Narratives in governance –practice, policy and science
15:15 Tea break
16:45 Plenary discussion and workshop reflection by the PLACARD team:
Use of narratives in daily work, follow-up activities, feedback
Reimund Schwarze
17:00 Close