Topic 2: Supporting and Working with Local Users

Submitted by Robin Hocquet | published 27th Aug 2021 | last updated 10th Sep 2021

Background: The KE4CAP Synthesis Report

This topic page forms a chapter of the KE4CAP Synthesis Report, which brings together learning from across KE4CAP's activities, including five virtual knowledge exchange events, three bilateral knowledge exchange event series, and the KE4CAP Survey (see Further Resources for links to relevant pages). The KE4CAP project is providing a global forum for developers and operators of climate adaptation knowledge platforms (CAPs) to come together to share knowledge and best practices, and to work together to address common and emerging challenges.

This early summary (September 2021) aims to provide food for thought for the KE4CAP Synthesis Workshop and will be followed by a more detailed and further illustrated synthesis report (and further developed topic pages) in December 2021. 

Introduction: Supporting and Working with Local Users

Climate adaptation ultimately takes place on the ground through tangible measures and behavioural changes, and CAPs can play a pivotal role in stimulating, supporting and enabling such action at the local level. This topic focuses on how to encourage and support local users, including how to engage with them, how to demonstrate the benefits of acting on climate change, and how to help build their capacity to implement adaptation. As the demand for climate-related information from a diverse range of local users increases, platforms are assessing how best to allocate their resources to support evolving and maturing user requirements.

Lessons Learnt

Current practices

  • Engagement. Platforms are broadening their approach to engage with a wider range of audiences via stakeholder groups and advisory panels, working directly with community groups, speaking at local business events, implementing helpdesks, and working through local hubs.
  • Knowledge brokerage. Local users often don’t need detailed and complex scientific information to make decisions. Platforms play an important role in selecting relevant data and information to translate and share, and in ensuring user needs are communicated to data providers.
  • Capacity building. Many platforms provide bespoke training to help local users understand, access and use the available information and tools. Peer-to-peer learning is encouraged as is the sharing of successful local action e.g., via users’ journeys and case studies.

Selected innovations 

Adaptation Scotland. Has a work package on ‘Place-based adaptation’ where they collaborate with city, regional and local partners to establish local adaptation initiatives across the country. Local buy-in helps ensure initiatives are self-sustaining and able to secure ongoing funding. 

NIAdapts (Northern Ireland). Works with the 11 local councils to provide an adaptation planning approach tailored to the local context, stripped back to essentials, and focusing on practical action to be delivered by non-specialists. As there is no legislative backing for local authority action in Northern Ireland, the approach has been kept very simple to enable local officers to make a start.

CoastAdapt, Australia and ICLEI, Canada. Have developed effective peer-cohort models. CoastAdapt uses champions to represent groups of users in platform development and who also act as mentors within their community. ICLEI works with local authorities grouped according to specific commonalities which then allows municipalities to support each other as they progress over time.

Shared challenges

  • Balancing available resources with the diverse requirements from across the range and increasing number of local actors, including the need to keep up-to-date in translating information and data to reflect local actors needs and capacities. 
  • Establishing and sustaining long-term collaborative relationships with local actors recognising that appropriate approaches can take time to gain traction and require effort to sustain.
  • Measuring and demonstrating the success of platforms in terms that are meaningful to local users, including to help promote value and increase trust.