ITD Conference: Transdisciplinary Research and Education –Intercultural Endeavours

Leuphana, Luneburg University, Germany, 11-15 September 2017

Cecilia Hidalgo chaired the session on Transdisciplinary (Td) climate research and stakeholder dialogue. Co-production of knowledge is currently considered essential to render climate information usable and actionable. This implies not only a wide range of transdisciplinarity (td) research but a renewed mode of interaction with stakeholders, now seen not as informants but as peers contributing on equal grounds with scientists to the provision of climate services and to the formulation of adaptation responses to climate change.  Experiences and insights gained in climate knowledge co-production settings in Europe, South America and Africa are discussed; questions such as what can Td research realistically contribute to enrich stakeholder dialogue are posed.

Representatives of three continents shared their experiences (Africa, Europe and America). We share the abstracts of the presentations that were followed by a lively discussion.

Co-creating climate change adaptation tools in the City of Johannesburg

Coleen Vogel - Global Change Institute, GCI, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
Mzukisi Gwata - EISD, City of Johannesburg
Kaera Coetser - Global Change Institute (GCI), University of the Witwatersrand,  Johannesburg
Mutizwa Mukute - Visiting scholar, GCI, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, and Rhodes University Senior Research Associate

Climate change is one of the multiple stressors facing African Cities. Consequently, the City of  Johannesburg and the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg have entered in a agreement to create adaptation strategies and responses to climate change in the City. The two actors are using social learning and transdisciplinary approaches to examine how a range of narratives, engagements and processes can frame an inclusive, empowering and multilevel planning process. One of the processes being used to try and develop the City of Johannesburg’s climate change adaptation plan is the expansive learning process that was developed in Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT).  Mediation formed a central part of the collaborative work, climate change impact analysis and co-development of strategies on adaptive capacity development. The challenges, opportunities and lessons learnt in this case will be explored in this paper.

Initiatives for the development of the relationship between climate knowledge and the agricultural sector in the Río de la Plata: exploration of the concepts of knowledge coproduction and transference

Claudia Simón - Universidad de la República, Uruguay
María Inés Carabajal - Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina

During the last decades the production of useful climate information has become a topic on the agenda of the international scientific and operational community. The advance of robust knowledge requires rethinking new ways of transmitting information and the generation of new links between institutions and different types of information users. In this article we will focus on two research projects that address this complexity, both financed by the Interamerican Institute for Global Change Research. The first one is of a regional scale, centered in the south-east of South America called “Towards usable climate science: Informing decisions and provision of climate services to the agriculture and water sectors of southeastern South America”, (CRN3035). It aims to collaborate in the construction of useful climate science, which will inform the decision-making of sectors sensitive to climate such as agriculture and the water sector. The second is a national project, developed in Uruguay (CRN3106), entitled “Transferring climate knowledge in the science-policy interface for adaptation to drought in Uruguay”. Which has the objective to analyze how the climatic information generated by the local institutions is used in the decision making process and how these affect the agricultural sector. In general terms, both projects fall within the paradigm of post-normal science, based on a transdisciplinary and cross-sectoral approach. In this sense, (1) we analyzed the differences and similarities between the projects, as well as the connections at both the scientific and thematic levels. Likewise, (2) we focused on the methodology implemented by each of them to address the link with the various users. Moreover, (3) we compared the concepts of co-production and transference of knowledge, from a historical point of view as they are the main concepts of the described projects. We concluded by (4) proposing how these new participatory / knowledge co-production approaches can collaborate in improving communication mechanisms between climate science and society. To do this we used a qualitative methodology of ethnography in both projects, a historical review of the uses of the different concepts, and semi-structured interviews.

Can Td research and climate modelling be combined? Preliminary results of the stakeholder dialogue of the new Swiss climate scenarios CH2018
Maurice Skelton - Institute for Environmental Decisions, Department of Environmental Systems Sciences, ETH Zürich
Michiko Hama - Swiss Federal Office for Meteorology and Climatology MeteoSwiss
Christian E. Pohl - USYS TdLab, Department of Environmental Systems Sciences, ETH Zürich
David N. Bresch - Institute for Environmental Decisions, Department of Environmental Systems Sciences, ETH Zürich

In the emerging field of climate services, the dominant view is that co-production of knowledge is essential to render these services usable and actionable. So far, inclusion of a diverse array of stakeholders is increasing, but most of the participants are the usual suspects: stakeholders with similar backgrounds, interests and capacities as the climate scientists themselves. The rich experiences, insights and principles gained from transdisciplinarity (td) research could contribute to fruitful stakeholder engagement. But often these climate services operate in a political-scientific setting in which td principles, such as involving stakeholders from the start, cannot be adequately adhered to. The stakeholder dialogue in the context of the upcoming Swiss climate scenarios CH2018 provides opportunities to discuss and pilot this challenge. So far, the new Swiss climate scenarios have focused mainly on physical parameters. Admittedly late to influence the results in a big way, we have taken on the climate scientists’ wish to start conversations with and between a wide set of stakeholders targeted by the Swiss National Adaptation Strategy. With these circumstances influencing the design options of the dialogue, what can td research realistically contribute? Which td principles be transferred and applied into the context of climate services? And how are these insights applied to start conversations, remove barriers and enable stakeholders’ voices to be listened to? In this interactive presentation, we will present and discuss our preliminary insights, challenges and results from the CH2018 stakeholder dialogue.