Climate Change Knowledge Exchange Workshop: Acting on what we know and how we learn for climate and development policy

5-6 March 2013
Institute of Development Studies, Brighton, Sussex, UK

See the event flyer - Discover the list of participants - Read the final report


In this event, we will explore what is working well, what is not, and how/whether we are learning to do things differently when they do not go according to plan, in relation to the following four key learning themes, each ‘owned’ by one or more of the event organisers:
  1. Whose knowledge counts? Locally-held knowledge for climate change adaptation (IDS & CCAFS Climate Change Social Learning Sand Box) - See final theme report
  2. Brokers, translators and intermediaries: new roles and challenges for putting knowledge into practice (IDRC, IDS) - See the final theme report.
  3. How to learn from climate change evaluations in and between organizations (CDKN, GEF EO, IDS) - See the final theme report
  4. Extreme events and disaster risk reduction (IDS)


Most documentation for this event is available below (for plenary sessions) and in the respective pages of each learning theme/strand (links above).
In addition, you can see:

Agenda (and meeting notes)

Day 1 (Tuesday 5th March)

Registration, networking, tea & coffee
Welcome & Introduction to the event and learning themes
Refreshments break
First breakout into learning themes: what are we doing?
Second breakout: what could we do differently?
Refreshments break
Share and review reflections in plenary
End of day 1
Workshop dinner – Il Duomo, Brighton

Day 2 (Wednesday 6th March)

Plenary: ‘what next’?
Cross-theme learning and sharing
Reflection on learning to change
Refreshments break
Theme process of learning and market place of actions/reflections
Small group feedback marketplace
Lunch & clustering actions/reflections
Respond to marketplace

End of workshop
Refreshments break
Tangents and side conversations

Notes of the Knowledge Exchange

Lawrence Haddad introduction
How is learning is or isn’t taking place in climate or development spaces and how is the learning (fill in ) question posed by Lawrence Haddad
1st ...
2nd – multi disciplinarity and
3rd – a lot at stake; making this very politicized
4th not that much evidence, in the social sciences as an evidence based culture; need more evidence in the climate policy space
Challenges to acting on knowledge: Is this learning knowledge and evidence actionable?
At IDS; when is resilience tyranny and when useful
Capacity to implement is fragmented
Is this Action being picked up by M&E systems?
What is Climate change and what is it not?
We have to reflect not just knowledge and capacity, but also politics - Focus on whose knowledge counts? Who’s an expert and how do you blend local and scientific expertise?

Andy Newsham's presentation
Why are we here? We're not here for a conference but for an internal debate, a knowledge Exchange to:
  • Learn from each other
  • Find out how to better act upon what we learn - Sparked by a critical mass of people coming together to take ‘stock’ to really understand what we know and don’t know
  • Know what policy we should be pushing - Not just what we know, but how and why we know
The process focuses on: share, reflect, think, about next steps and then decide together how we act on it.
Learning themes – 4 themes;
  • Whose Knowledge Counts – Pete Cranston and Andy
  • Intermediaries – Fatema and Harvey
  • Learning and evaluation - Rob van den Berg and Geoff Barnard
  • Extreme Events and disaster – Terry Cannon and Carl Jackson

How we are going to Learn – Triple Loop Learning
  • First loop: Instrumental
  • Second loop: Conversational - do Collectively; learn Collectively
  • Triple loop: Transformational; questioning the assumptions that we use to set up what why and how we do

2 webinars on Thursday: Sea Change in the morning, Climate – Eval in the afternoon.

Pete Cranston
  • This event requires you in a lot of different learning modes
  • Bring expertise, experience and ideas together in a group
  • Individual reflection, while at the same time diving deep
  • Learning what we bring to this in our assumptions
Three facilitators – Pete Cranston, Carl Jackson and Ewen Le Borgne

Presentation of the themes

Whose Knowledge Counts - Andy Newsham

  • Introduction – the way we are talking about locally held knowledge in the context of Climate Change is not completely put together
    • How locally held knowledge come into the policy process
    • IPPC and James Ford has knwoeldge about this
    • Lindsey Stringer in South Africa on how people are entering this process of effecting climate change
      • Malawi, Swaziland,
      • Working on land degradation policy, adaptation and learning how people adapt to these changes in policy
      • Disconnects to different stresses; how dealt with in different sectors; vast amount of indigenous knowledge
        • people don’t passively sit and wtch it happen
        • indigenous knwoledge not being tapped into sufficiently
        • where are the overlaps and where are the disconnects
        • set up a way based on this to build the strengths
Sponsor: CCAFS – working in a new way and CCAFS is one of the first programs working in this new way, diversifying partnerships, and embracing social learning approach, thinking about gender

Intermediaries brokers and translators - Blane Harvey

  • Who are the people inbetween knowledge bases, that change knowledge between spaces, translates between language; this role plays a lot of functions
  • What are we doing int his new space and new roles that we are forming with ITs and tech
  • Roles and values attached to it, also specific contexts
  • Using systems to develop centers that are place-based and remote to acquire information and find other intermediaries to get information how do we disseminate this information
  • Tan Copsey showing an image of a woman; don’t just want to communicate to someone but finding ways to communicate with people
    • 3000 interviews across countries, rural/urban, collective and participatory frameworks
    • put in the media to reach
IDRC will be launching a new program bringing together people from Africa and Asia to look at CC in different hot spots; bringing together difference stakeholders.

Learning and evaluation - Rob van den Berg & Geoff Barnard

  • How to learn is very subtle ; but we can be curious about how it happens and how complex it is; learning is the easy bit, but what we do with it is the hard part
  • Let's not stop at the learning, let's see how we go further
  • An evaluation is interesting, but it’s usually a mis-opportunity
  • Looking at the engagement and interaction (LISTEN TO RECORDING RIGHT HERE)

Extreme Events and Disaster Risk Reduction: what are we not learning - Terry Cannon

  • Disaster and risk reduction
  • Focus on many people in the world are not given priority to disaster risk, why do people not face up to the risks that exists; focusing on behavior and cultures; why experts in this are not learning that they are ineffective; is it because they are not listening to people; what are the barriers to this learning and what can we do to change this, what are the transformations to make this difference
  • Why are people willing to take risks? People live in dangerous places, because they get the benefits from these disaster areas
    • disaster relief plans do not agree with the way people live and their livliehoods
    • outsiders want to put people into a rational scientific way, in which people want to behave
    • Cultural relationships with disaster risks
    • This gap; disaster managers and the people needing disaster relief strategies
    • Concrete problem in understanding behaviors and the organizations involved with it
      • How is culture acting as a set of behaviors
      • Around the world people give priority to their livelihood needs over the risk that outside observers address

The hidden theme: Social learning - Pete Cranston, Ewen Le Borgne, Carl Jackson

Social Learning is a Process that will run throughout the entire Learning Exchange
  • We need to be thinking about transforming the way that we act
  • Triple Loop Learning
    • Single loop learning – instrumental learning is what people do things most of the time; I learn what works, problem-solving and adapt, feed-back loops fimportant for monitoring organizations
    • Double loop learning – re-interpret what is being said; convene and bring people together in a common space; this is where the CCSL sandbox is helpful; try to reach out, but don’t always understand what people are going through
    • Triple loop learning – without reflecting on why you are doing these things, this asks you why you do what you do, what are the underlying assumptions; helps put learning into action through reflection; reconsidering everything that you are involved in

Feedback about group presentations on day 1

(At the end of day 1, all groups presented back the work they had completed and participants were invited to buzz and note down key observations about what they heard in each of these presentations).
  • Do not ridicule business as usual
  • Embrace failure
  • Is the local community romanticized?
  • Does the inclusion of different types of knowledge complicate decision/policy making? Is that desirable and feasible?
  • Role vs. function of knowledge brokerage - should we have specialised roles or understand the way we are all involved? / knowledge brokerage: person or function?
  • Knowledge brokers should be demand-driven / less supply-focused
  • If knowledge is power, how do you deal with transparency requirement of knowledge brokers?
  • How to evaluate the effectiveness of the knowledge broker? / What is successful knowledge brokering?
  • Knowledge brokering and intermediaries as a capability as well as a specialist type of organisation?
  • To what extent do knowledge brokers 'facipulate' people and information?
  • Self-reflective knowledge brokers
  • Intermediaries as honest brokers or pushing agendas?
  • Which intermediaries are legitimate where and when?
  • Introduce national frameworks for open publication of all publicly funded evaluations
  • Multiple purposes of evaluation --> tension (can real learning happen?)
  • Disconnect between evaluation for accountability and evaluation for learning
  • Should evaluation for accountability and evaluation for learning be de-linked? Be a one-way flow? Have firewalls?
  • Link evaluation to live world of policy makers
  • Who are the core people influencing policy development/making?
  • Align research and policy processes
  • Attributing / ok as authentic source of knowledge
  • Importance of addressing incentive structures within organisations so that people have time to learn

Commentators' perspectives

(One commentator was selected for each thematic group to make some observations - they fed these back on the morning of day 2)

Commentator 1 (Angelica)
An issue of identity. How do we manage our expectations, audience etc. We need to understand better who we are and what we do.
Scale: What do we do today that will affect the future?
Work at micro, meso and macro scale. We shouldn’t focus only on local level but also with macro scale processes (NAPA / NAMA etc.)…
We need to innovate in our learning!
I didn’t hear: How to operationalize these new ideas and approaches. Nobody mentioned or explored new partnership models. How to work better with the private secotr, with the media, with governments. We need to raise awareness among new donor communities.
I didn’t hear about: New opportunities rising with CC, new livelihood options, new institutional landscapes, new ICTs towards resilience.
Traditional knowledge came up in the whose knowledge counts but not in the brokers and in the evaluation strands. How to bring it in?

Commentator 2 (Hillary)
With evaluations, what are we evaluating and why? Some bits of eval help us improve programming. Impact of CC and DRR is difficult to assess.
The issue of including livelihoods as a centerpiece: why wouldwe put livelihood as a centerpiece is crucial.
Lobbying and advocacy: we need to continue capacitating beneficiaries on action learning and participatory learning. With all that we did, how do we integrate all the pieces from yesterday? Who is who? Who are beneficiaries? Who has to take action and underline the process of CC impact and DRR. How do we get down to other levels with what we are talking about?

Commentator 3 (Gilbert)
We are trying to assess whose knowledge is better – but how do we compare local knowledge with scientific knowledge?
?? (Missed bits - had to fix sthg else)

Commentator 4 (Liz)
What is the role of learning? We’re still in delivery mode. We are talking about starting and finishing things, success and failure. But learning is incremental, needs reflection.
When talking about success and failure we’re not talking about change. We use terms about transformational change.
Roles and responsibilities in ourselves and in organisations. How do we leverage collective change… ?
What I’ll take away is about my own learning so this should work well.

Marketplace of actions, ideas and commitments


  • To follow up with identified partners in livelihoods integration to DRR and also evaluation knowledge sharing topic relevant to my everyday work!
  • (Andy Newsham, Saleem Huq & group) Post workshop meeting on research agenda for 'whose knowledge'
  • (Andy Newsham) Follow up at a later date to see if anyone has had a 'eureka' moment & what changes that has delivered
  • (Agnes) Go back to our work,find out what the knowledge filter looks like and identify what a different filter might look like?
  • (Sarah Wade-Apicella) I will become more active in existing DRR, CC(A) & KM networks: to share experience, listen and learn, feedback to organizations
  • (Geoff Barnard) Be a personal champion for more effective communication of evaluation learning --> Building the ambitions and capacity of evaluators to be change agents
  • (Ewen Le Borgne) Synthesize results of this workshop for the CCAFS science meeting (with Marc Schut)


  • Work with other interested parties to pioneer / test out better approaches to capturing & sharing learning with a view to influencing change / action (Geoff Barnard, Sarah Wade-Apicella)
  • Look across DRR portfolio of CDKN to look at systemic constraints to change being adapted and find models for overcoming --> Learning + innovation hub (already being planned)
  • Develop theory of change for CDKN's DRR 'vision' for India through 'back-step' exercise to inform future programming
  • CDKN to offer ToC training and training for ToC facilitator for country programmes and suppliers and evaluators
  • CDKN to write short practical papers on effective programmes on thematic areas including domains of change (indicators, methods for gathering info)
  • In my organization, UNISDR, I will advocate for org-wide increased participation in DRR, CC and dev networks (internal KB & KT) global <--> local.
  • My organization, UNISDR, can/should uild in reflection, evaluation and distill lessons learnt to share internally, then externally, to strengthen cross-linked DRR, CC + Dev processes (global <--> local)
  • Look across DRR portfolio in Asia on how knowledge is transferred + where assumptions are being imposed
  • The organisation to follow up on working with the academic institutions on strengthening risk reduction and arm of development ==> Also the knowledge management systems and evaluations
  • Theory of change approach to CDKN Africa country portfolio learning & evaluation (thinking about a theory of change approach in the context of CDKN's learning programme in Africa)
  • CDKN to develop theories of change + change pathways for thematic areas and share these
  • I will work within my organisation to lead greater reflection on how we privilege and broker certain types of knowledge over others... (Blane)

In theme groups

  • (Climate eval - Maureen O'Flynn, Kinsuk Mitra, Robbie Gregorowski, Rob van den Berg, Sarah Wade-Apicella, Saleem Huq, Vasantha Chase)
    • "In order to succeed, I try to fail as fast as I can" (Einstein);
    • We don't know what works in climate change. We need to make mistakes. Theory-based approach to evaluation works for this
    • Need for new generation of evaluations (focus on learning, include new criteria) & new methods
    • Things to do: develop short practical guides e.g. resilience, ToC / indicators and methods. Evaluators need to contextualise
  • (Climate eval) Link up learning and communications
  • (Climate eval) Thing
  • Build on personal connections through for example LinkedIn discussion group
  • (KB group) Continuous engagement is (an important) part of the KBs' role and actions.
  • (KB group) Recognising risk of knowledge brokerage using 'extracted' info from research subjects and conducting elite conversations - see what can be done to broaden knowledge exchange and diversify conversations through CLEARER LANGUAGE
  • (KB group) Synthesis written piece recognising the strength of learning -send envoys to research / Knowledge brokerage fora + orgsy
  • (KB group) Link knowledge brokers with power brokers concept - nuance role of intermediary

Collectively (beyond)

  • (Climate eval) How to improve evaluation communications? Flavio Pinheiro, .
    • Come up with a checklist / manifesto i.e. 10 reasons why communicating evaluation results makese sense
    • Conduct market research with target audiences to test out what they are looking for and what comms approaches work
    • Develop the concept of 'best practice' in this area (using climete-eval / sea change + other eval communities)
    • Document good practice example to show where new ways have worked to convince boss/senior manager
    • Walk through sr. managers in adopting learning-conducive comms strategies for their evaluations
    • Evaluation units should get together with colleagues from their comms teams (we can all do this)
    • Train evaluators on communication skills and connect them to stakeholdres during field workshops for feedback.
  • Enhance local peoples' confidence in their knowledge capacity to borrow knowledge from evaluators
  • Recognising the risk of knowledge brokers not understanding sufficiently the positive and negative impacts of work, be responsible for tracking impact pathways.
  • Collectively in CKB group, exchange best practice methodologies in impact assessment.
  • Individually and collectively talk about ethics of knowledge brokerage.
  • Sea Change webinar communicating M&E results (Glen O'Neil of OWLRY) May-July 2013.