weADAPT Survey 2021 Results - A Brief Insight

Submitted by Megan MacGillivray | published 19th Oct 2021 | last updated 26th May 2022
How weADAPT supports adaptation work.

Summary

In June 2021, weADAPT conducted a survey of its users to better understand the different uses and applications of the platform. The results offer valuable insights on ways to improve learning opportunities and user experience for both new and existing members of weADAPT. 

weADAPT.org is one of the world’s leading and longest-running global climate adaptation knowledge platforms. weADAPT is an online ‘open space’ on climate adaptation issues (including the synergies between adaptation and mitigation) which allows a wide range of users, from practitioners, researchers and planners to students, government officials and policy makers to access credible, high quality information and to share experiences and lessons learned with the global weADAPT community.

This article will firstly explain the goals and vision of weADAPT; discuss the audience and community of research and practice; discuss the June 2021 survey results and finally identify suggested areas for improvement and next steps.

Background

weADAPT's Vision and Goals

Established in 2007, weADAPT’s goal is to accelerate learning, knowledge sharing and networking on climate change adaptation issues. weADAPT’s vision is to co-create a space with users to share and access credible, high-quality information. Users can also collaborate with peers and networks on climate change adaptation issues and access policy-relevant tools and guidance for adaptation planning and decision-making.

A key goal of weADAPT is to enable knowledge sharing in the global South and ‘hard-to-reach’ (e.g. low-bandwidth) areas to ensure all voices are heard equally. This ethos is reflected in the design and knowledge management processes carried out on the site e.g., working with many boundary organisations and ensuring all content is equally branded and shared whether from an international research institute or a local community-based organisation. Content goes through a comprehensive editorial process to co-create syntheses of documents that are uploaded together with contributors to ensure their knowledge is represented correctly and that the most useful and relevant knowledge is shared with climate change adaptation community. 

weADAPT's Audience

weADAPT receives over 100,000 unique users each year (150,000 in 2021) and, to date, has over 6000 registered users from more than 1500 organisations. These organizations are typically INGOs, NGOs, think tanks, government ministries, national hydrometeorological services, universities and research institutes, civil society organisations, social enterprises, private sector businesses and grassroots charities. weADAPT is regularly used in university and professional training courses.

In 2021, platform visits increased significantly, growing by over 30%. The figure below compares the number of visitors from different locations from January through November in 2020 and 2021. The highest increases come from: Central, North and West Africa; South, Southeast, Central and West Asia; and, Eastern Europe. 

Visitors (1 January -- 15 November, 2020 and 2021) from more than 5000 cities in more than 220 countries and territories globallyshowing a high density of visits from East Africa and the Asian subcontinent.
 

Methodology

weADAPT conducted the 2021 survey to gain information about how the platform is used, the demography of its users, to understand how it supports adaptation work, and to explore how the platform can be improved. The weADAPT survey was sent to 5523 subscribers of the weADAPT newsletter. It received 381 responses, a response rate of almost 7%.The results are presented below.

Results

The survey results highlight that weADAPT has a global audience, with site visitors working in many roles (see below) and 96% of survey respondents stating that weADAPT has helped to improve their adaptation work in some way.

Trust in weADAPT and its content is growing. Nearly all (93%) of survey respondents would recommend weADAPT to a colleague. “It is one of the most effective one-stops for great knowledge and tools reflecting current research and practice on adaptation,” a survey respondent said.   

The longevity of the platform and its knowledge-management model add value. As a survey respondent underlined, “It is one of the few online sites tailored to adaptation…(that is) openly accessible and participatory, and (receives) regular moderation and updating.” Users appreciated the longevity of the site, now nearly 15 years old, saying that this provides a rich experience. 

weADAPT is reaching new communities in the Global South. In 2021, platform visits increased significantly, growing by over 30% with the highest increases come from: Central, North and West Africa; South, Southeast, Central and West Asia; and, Eastern Europe (see above).

The platform supports knowledge sharing, adaptation planning and decision-making. Nearly all (96%) of survey respondents believe that weADAPT has helped to improve their adaptation work. In addition, 94% said that weADAPT findings added to their existing knowledge.  

Case studies and local knowledge are key. Survey respondents cited case studies on the weADAPT map as the most useful aspect of the platform. “Information in this platform is transformative…[going]…from global to local scales,” one respondent said. 

weADAPT is a connector. Roughly three-quarters (74%) of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that weADAPT brings together all the relevant actors within the field of adaptation.   

See selected responses below on why users would recommend weADAPT to a colleague: 

"It is a great repository of information, highly accessible, and easily searchable."
 
"The comprehensiveness of information on adaptation, the capacity to set into context, the quality of information."
 
"weADAPT is the best resource on climate change adaptation and relevant issues. It also brings locally-relevant information which is very useful for knowledge sharing and capacity development."

(Source: 2021 survey responses).

Who uses weADAPT?

Most survey respondents were in the 35–54-year-old age bracket (55%) with the majority of respondents being somewhat familiar with the platform (67%). Respondents hold a wide variety of roles (Figure 1), and come from NGO’s, consultancies, Universities, Government, research institutions, civil society organisations, advisory services, international government organisations, government ministries, private enterprises, community-based organisations, think tanks or are private citizens.


Figure 1: The main professional role of respondents. 

The location where most people focus their work was a key consideration (the survey allowed for the selection of multiple regions). Connecting with hard-to-reach regions is a key part of weADAPT's ambition. This sample of weADAPT users mostly represents those working on issues in Africa (37%) and Asia and the Pacific (34%) (Figure 2).


Figure 2: The regions in which weADAPT survey respondents are primarily working with in their professional role.

Of all respondents in this sample, 34% have used weADAPT for less than a year, with 47% using it for 2-5 years, 15% using it for more than 5 years, and some long time users, who had been using weADAPT for more than 10 years (4%) (Figure 3).


Figure 3: The number of years respondents have engaged with the weADAPT platform.

The survey also explored users' main purposes in accessing weADAPT to better understand needs and to improve the platform. 

Results showed that users prioritise learning, sharing and connecting in this order when using the weADAPT platform, and that 61% of users primarily use weADAPT to find information for their everyday work such as supporting decision-making (Figure 4). 


Figure 4: Day-to-day tasks.

How effective is weADAPT at helping users? 

The survey showed that 96% of respondents felt that weADAPT has helped to improve their adaptation work in some way, mostly in the areas of knowledge of adaptation options and adaptation planning or decision-making (Figure 5). In the same vein, 94% felt that weADAPT findings added knowledge to what they already knew, with 52% of respondents stating that this was always or usually the case.


Figure 5: The areas in which weADAPT has supported respondents’ climate change adaptation work (weighted average ranking).

The survey also showed that 74% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that weADAPT brings together all the relevant actors within the field of adaptation.

Next steps

The survey provides feedback on what is valuable (e.g. the case studies) and what can be further improved on weADAPT. We have been very encouraged to see the overwhelming positive feedback on how the platform is being used in many different kinds of work. We will delve into this further by conducting more in-depth interviews in early 2022. Many of the areas in which respondents have suggested improvements align closely with the priorities identified for planned changes in 2022. e.g. improving spaces for collaboration; finding even better ways to present the Map of Case Studies; enhancing the 'search and discoverability' of content; general improvements to the user interface; and content-wise, including failures as well as successes, alongside ‘good practice’ information 

The team at weADAPT would like to thank all users for their responses and are excited to share these improvements with you very soon!

Further resources