Climate Knowledge Brokers workshop 2013

Submitted by Michael Rastall 11th June 2013 10:39

Many climate change portals, including weADAPT, have succeeded in achieving varying degrees of growth in recent years. However, by working together and engaging in 'knowledge exchange', these portals can drastically increase their collective impact.

Developing communication links between climate knowledge brokers will also serve to cure a number of perceived obstacles that we have all had to, or are expected to have to, overcome. To name a few: the ‘silo effect’ (the reluctance to share information among each other); ‘the portal proliferation syndrome’ (the tendency to create a new portal rather than build capacity in a previously existing one); being ‘supply driven’; ‘ill-funded’ and being inaccessible for policy makers.

You would be forgiven then for thinking that the prognosis for collaboration between climate change portals is rather dim. Not so. Rehabilitation has begun, and has been going strong for two years thanks to Climate Knowledge Broker workshops organised by CDKN.

The main remit of the annual gathering is to reframe those illnesses as challenges, and spread the optimism that ‘while some may not be curable, they are at least treatable’ (Geoff Barnard, CDKN) through the sharing of data and information.

This year, GIZ and REEEP co-hosted the conference in Bonn, Germany which saw over 30 representatives meet from climate portals from all over the world. 

It was an occasion to update each other on the latest collaborative projects we have been involved in (mostly funded by CDKN). These projects have ranged from weADAPT’s integration with the Climate Information Portal to incorporate downscaled climate data on to the adaptation layer to the creation of a Knowledge Navigator tool allowing users to find the most suitable platform for his/her needs.

The variety and ingenuity of these projects pays testament to the value of the Climate Knowledge Brokers collaboration. Of course, being innovative is always a lot easier when the funding landscape is agreeable and now that those projects are reaching their finalisation and evaluation stages, this meeting in Bonn was also an occasion to take stock and ask where we are. To this end, we asked ourselves some probing questions:

  • How is the environment changing?
  • What has been successful?
  • Where have we learnt some valuable lessons?
  • What have we learned as a Climate Knowledge Brokers community?

Sharing our stories of successes and lessons learnt with each other resembled the beginnings of a community of best practice seldom seen in other online groups. 

Looking forward, the CKB community is looking to deepen its internal ties by offering a commitment to meet in person whenever possible, and talk over email and skype more frequently. Futhermore, the one-to-one networking opportunities at the workshop will inevitably lead to further collaborative projects that we can look forward to in the future.

Once again thank you to those people who really made this event happen, in particular Geoff Barnard from CDKN whose vision for the potential of this group and drive to materialise that potential was invaluable. Also thanks to everyone at GIZ who had a hand in organising and lending us their HQ for the weekend, and, of course, James Smith for ensuring the smooth running of the event and providing evening entertainment. Special mention should also go to the Bauer brothers: Florian for his insights into the potential of open data; and Stefan for his help in marketing our platforms.