Climate Change and Social Learning (CCSL): Supporting local decision making for climate change, agriculture and food security

Submitted by Caroline Lumosi | published 21st Mar 2014 | last updated 26th Sep 2014


Introduction

The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) is challenging its own community of scientists and partners to understand the importance of co-created knowledge in finding solutions to local climate change issues. Local communities dealing with the daily realities of climate change risk, adaptation and mitigation don’t have time to wait. They need an immediate way to combine their own knowledge with that of others to build better solutions. CCAFS believes it can use the concept of social learning to challenge the CGIAR family and others to adopt new ways of working, forge new partnerships and co-create new knowledge to support more collective local decision making on climate change.

Climate change is ‘wicked’

‘Wicked’ problems are defined as highly complex with constraints, challenges and resource needs that change over time, further complicated by varying stakeholder perspectives, knowledge and cultural framings. Climate change and climate variability present just such complexity, and their effects on agriculture and our future food security are among the most pressing problems the world faces. Many communities already face the consequences of climate change, ranging from dried earth to rising tides, and all needing very different solutions. In the face of uncertainty these solutions must be flexible and adaptive.

A collective focus for collective problems

Wicked problems call for wicked solutions. Global and local climate change adaptation, mitigation and risk management will depend on individuals’, communities’ and agencies’ willingness to collectively address issues 
that cannot be addressed by any one individual or household. Successful adaptation or mitigation outcomes 
depend on coordinated (personal and collective) actions from decision makers at different levels, including local, national, regional and global. The challenge is less to determine a single solution and more to chart a course navigating many perspectives, and to co-create new knowledge drawing on the many voices and ‘knowledges’ of different stakeholders.

One of CCAFS’ main objectives is to research the best ways to support local decision making around climate change issues. To make the best decisions, communities need to gather their own local and traditional knowledge as well as engage with others whose different expertise can co-create new knowledge. Collective decisions require full engagement across the range of stakeholders, finding ways for everyone involved to understand each other and learn together. 

A range of stakeholders necessitates communication through a range of channels. Getting this right means 
understanding how different people communicate – including nuances for gender, generation and local culture. 
It means understanding what they know already and what it is they need to know more of. This combining of new knowledge with old knowledge, together with collective reflection on what this learning implies for finding solutions, offers the key to successful social learning.

Suggested citation

Carlile, L., Ballantyne, P., Ensor, J., Foerch, W., Garside, B., Harvey, B., Patterson, Z., Thornton, P. and Woodend, J. (2013). Climate change and social learning (CCSL): supporting local decision making for climate change, agriculture and food security. A Climate Change and Social Learning (CCSL) Initiative Learning Brief No. 1. 

Further resources

Suggested citation

Carlile, L., Ballantyne, P., Ensor, J., Foerch, W., Garside, B., Harvey, B., Patterson, Z., Thornton, P. and Woodend, J. (2013). Climate change and social learning (CCSL): supporting local decision making for climate change, agriculture and food security. A Climate Change and Social Learning (CCSL) Initiative Learning Brief No. 1.