- Improve communication and harmonise language
- Connect actors and look forward
- Build structures for cooperation
1. Improve communication and harmonise language
- Be more aware and transparent in the use of language, recognising when key terms are being used differently and harmonising concepts to strengthen communication.
- Invest in knowledge management infrastructure to intelligently connect data, content and users, to put information in context and lead readers to relevant resources.
- Consider different audiences and tailor communications strategies to engage and mobilise these communities, in particular by using storytelling approaches to make communications more understandable, legitimate and compelling.
Good communication is critical for collaborative processes, alongside access to relevant, credible knowledge. However, differences in concepts, perspectives, terminology and language between the CCA and DRR communities can hinder information and knowledge flows. While both fields deal with risk, differences in terminology can generate challenges for building joint risk assessment approaches – as was the case in the 2012 Special Report on Extreme Events (SREX) from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2012). Although awareness of these differences has grown, the challenge remains especially prescient at the science–policy–practice interface where integrated thinking is critical and there is a focus on solutions.
Differences in professional terminology and jargon add to these difficulties, causing readers to be uncertain of meaning and purpose.
In this context, an enormous opportunity has arisen for information knowledge management, including climate services, to support decision-making (Barrott et al., Forthcoming). Yet the sheer volume and richness of information is only useful if people can access information quickly and efficiently. A lack of knowledge sharing between communities – particularly who is doing what and where – can lead to replication of mistakes and missed opportunities for generating better outcomes.
The PLACARD Connectivity Hub uses tagging technology and a linked, open data approach to deliver information from the across the largest CCA and DRR knowledge products in Europe. By searching for key terms, users are able to identify relevant resources (reports, projects, topics and experts) as well as understand precisely how different search terms are being used in each context (Figure 1). This technology-driven approach can contribute to harmonising language and terminology over the long-term, strengthen knowledge management, improve the uptake of relevant information, and generate opportunities for collaboration. The PLACARD Connectivity Hub demonstrates what can be achieved using a harmonised set of terms to connect knowledge across multiple data sources.
This work has provided the means for scaling up linked open data approaches and laid the foundation for artificial intelligence methods to leverage this vast array of data to yield new insights and expedite learning.
Figure 1: The PLACARD Connectivity Hub connects projects and organisations from across multiple European and global platforms to improve relevant, collaborative and efficient search and discovery of CCA and DRR knowledge.
Beyond information access, it is also crucial to think about how we communicate. While the audiences for CCA and DRR information continue to grow, different stakeholders may have different needs. Therefore, using a broader range of information types – including data visualisations, images, audio and video – can help engage relevant communities and mobilise action. The PLACARD Narratives Recipe Book can help professionals design compelling stories for different audiences. It provides a simple framework to create strategic narratives for achieving specific goals, including identifying the right audience, framing and mode of dissemination.
2. Connect actors and look forward
- Convene events and dialogues to bring together CCA and DRR professionals, focused on important topics or emerging issues for both communities.
- Involve boundary partners to help bridge the divide between actors and translate concepts across contexts.
- Invest in facilitation to engage participants, including using foresight techniques to develop future-oriented and policy-relevant risk assessments, drawing on CCA and DRR expertise.
The CCA and DRR communities often operate in distinct ‘spaces’ with expertise and experience clustering around specific themes. Therefore, increasing interaction between experts and stakeholders is key to sharing knowledge and experiences. An obvious opportunity is to convene regular discussions on key topics and emerging issues, with the express intention of facilitating learning and exchange. But what makes an interaction like this successful?
One key factor is who participates. Drawing on the right technical expertise and including perspectives from different nationalities and genders are important as well as representatives from organisations who are active in both CCA and DRR can help to bridge the divide between participants and build common understanding. PLACARD conducted a social network analysis of actors engaged in CCA and DRR throughout Europe and found that distinct communities existed with only limited communication and collaboration between them (Karali et al., 2017 and 2020). However, several institutions emerged as critical interlocutors, including Climate-ADAPT and DG Research (formerly DG RTD) (Figure 2). These boundary partners form the key connective tissue between the communities, bringing together relevant actors and sharing information. And yet, this function is rarely acknowledged in the mandate of these or other institutions. This underscores the need for dedicated boundary partner organisations to actively facilitate the exchange of knowledge and expertise between actors, especially in fragmented landscapes.
Beyond the expertise in the room, it is also crucial to consider how participants can engage effectively with one another. Participatory techniques and good facilitation are essential elements so that strong connections can be forged and information is retained. The Participate! course is a useful resource, which aims to teach practitioners critical skills for facilitating CCA and DRR-related workshops. The course provides tools and methodologies for hosting effective events, as well as facilitation techniques to engage participants in exciting ways.
A key lesson of Participate! is that engaging participants in collaborative activities can encourage people to share their views and insights, produce new knowledge, and explore opportunities for action as they engage with issues in novel ways. Given the focus of CCA and DRR on managing future risks, foresight methods can be particularly effective for helping to integrate CCA and DRR in practice.
Foresight techniques go beyond modelling exercises or qualitative scenarios; with the aim of developing forward-looking risk assessment approaches, foresight techniques can support decision-making in a variety of contexts and will be strengthened by the inclusion of more diverse inputs and perspectives.
The Foresight promotion report for policy and decision-makers presents a comprehensive stocktake of foresight approaches employed across the CCA and DRR communities and identifies a number of concrete ways that each approach could be fruitfully employed. Key factors for using foresight to bridge CCA and DRR include a balanced and equitable engagement of stakeholders; using common ‘intermediate’ time and spatial scales; harmonising definitions, key terms, drivers and exposure values; selecting methods and tools tailored to the objectives of the exercise; producing common outputs; focusing on positive concepts and outcomes; using a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods; giving equal attention to climate/environmental and socio-economic factors; and employing good facilitation to guide the work and manage the process.
Figure 2: Key boundary partners for bridging CCA and DRR in Europe. In-degree connections refer to the number of linkages originated by a partner, while degree centrality refers to the total number of linkages. Actors in the upper right-hand quadrant are the best-connected actors in the European CCA and DRR landscape.
3. Build structures for cooperation
- Strengthen existing institutions by safeguarding sound governance, ensuring effective financing, seizing opportunities for cooperation, sharing new forms of communication, and enhancing knowledge management.
- Create new initiatives or bodies with a specific mandate for convening stakeholders and acting as a boundary partner between the CCA and DRR communities.
- Make structural changes to risk governance approaches, aligning relevant agendas and sharing risk ownership across sectors and scales.
At a universal level, institutions that engage in the daily work of CCA and DRR need to be strengthened so that they have the expertise, tools and mandates to work effectively with one another. But institutional coordination and capacity cannot be improved through the initiative of staff alone; governance and incentive structures need to be developed that encourage cooperation and enable it in practice.
The PLACARD Guidelines to Strengthen CCA and DRR Institutional Coordination and Capacity showcase innovative activities that target cooperation, collaboration, improved communication, increased coherence and capacity-sharing between the CCA and DRR communities. The recommendations provide hands-on insights and precise policy advice from more than 30 experts in an effort to encourage initiatives and activities that can further strengthen the collaboration between, and capacity of, relevant institutions. Some of the core conclusions comprise the need for more concerted funding and greater investments, but the Guidelines also suggest that in many places existing capacities can be enhanced easily by targeted cooperation, setting new priorities, and anticipation in process development.
There is also a need for new initiatives or bodies to fulfil key functions, or structural changes to risk management and governance approaches to establish and sustain an enabling environment for cooperation. New institutions, for example, could act specifically as boundary partners, convening relevant actors, innovating by developing new tools and approaches to support decision-makers, and learning by investing in intelligent knowledge management.
Structurally, there is a need to set agendas for CCA and DRR with common goals and targets and similar timelines for implementation. Risk ownership should also be shared across actors and scales to incentivise governance approaches that include local actors, as well as multiple ministries or agencies. This would enable CCA and DRR communities to benefit from multiple perspectives and to produce contextually specific whole-of-government approaches to risk management.