Catalysing peer-to-peer learning for better understanding climate risks

In a consultative process that drew on the experiences and expertise of its membership, the ARA has revealed guiding principles for learning communities on understanding climate risks.

Identifying the most urgent issues, challenges, gaps, and questions that must be answered to reduce vulnerability to climate risks is essential as the pace of climate change continues to accelerate.

As a global coalition working to accelerate learning, information sharing and networking on climate risks, the Adaptation Research Alliance (ARA) works in close collaboration with its members so we can better respond to the challenge of adaptation.

One of its strengths is being able to draw on and integrate the experience and expertise of a diversity of stakeholders that would otherwise be working in isolation. When it comes to understanding climate risks that face specific contexts within vulnerable and marginalised communities, sharing this knowledge is essential.

“Enhancing resilience to climate change is incredibly complex.  No one institution or individual can have the know-how or experience to respond to climate impacts comprehensively,” says Aditya Bahadur, lead for the ARA Tracking, Learning and Sharing (TLS) activities.

“Making connections and sharing data, approaches and experience is the only way to make progress with building resilience at the scale and with the urgency required.”

Using the Alliance’s network to catalyse peer-to-peer learning, generate a shared understanding of challenges, and to forge networks and communities of practice, the ARA Shared Learning Process on Understanding Climate Risks led a consultative learning process on understanding climate risks.

Over 150 organisations from the Alliance’s membership and network applied to take part in the initiative, underscoring the widespread interest in and need for such work. Ultimately, 57 participants from Africa, Asia and Latin America were invited to participate in a series of global and regional workshops.

“We found there are still many significant knowledge gaps for understanding climate risks,” says Bahadur.

In particular, there is a need to improve communication with marginalised groups and consider gender, youth and justice, as well as academic, practitioner and community knowledge. The insufficient mobilisation of climate knowledge to influence government policies must also be addressed.

“The findings from this process provide a robust and grounded framework for catalysing collaboration between a variety of actors engaged in enhancing resilience,” says Bahadur.

Emerging from the workshops were guiding principles for learning communities, including the need to be inclusive, gender-responsive, diverse and locally-led.  Knowledge must be accessible, and approaches used should be cross-sectoral, impact-oriented and context sensitive. Networking with local governments should be central to influencing policies.

These guidelines provide a baseline for improving shared learning processes around understanding climate risk, but there is still more work to be done. Highlighting the willingness and enthusiasm from participants, Bahadur says these workshops can provide a model for networks and learning communities within several ARA activities.

“One of ARA’s key objectives is to enhance learning across both climate research and climate action communities,” says Bahadur.

“Facilitating participant-led processes of reflection and collaboration like this can help us build relationships, and consolidating networks is an important way for us to achieve this objective effectively,” says Bahadur.