Using action research to tackle climate change – an update on the engagements of the Adaptation Research Alliance 

‘Knowledge that informs action is what society is calling out for right now. We have to prioritise action research for the Global South to improve the lives of billions, avoid maladaptation, [and] get ahead of the race,’ Debra Roberts (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)). 

As part of the UK COP26 Presidency Adaptation & Resilience campaign, the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) is working with partners to co-develop an international Adaptation Research Alliance (ARA) for launch at COP26. The ARA aims to catalyse action research for high impact climate adaptation and resilience and has been engaging in a number of online events to build its global network and receive input on a set of ARA Principles to underpin the programme’s activities and theory of change. 

True to what it promotes, the formation of the ARA is built on collaboration and partnerships with organisations, initiatives and actors, all of which have taken part in the formation of the ARA Principles. These stakeholders are further invited to contribute to the ARA’s exciting workstreams

The ARA has benefited enormously from engaging in three salient events over the past two months: Global Forum of Funders, 5th European Climate Change Adaptation conference (ECCA), and the 15th Community-based Adaptation conference (CBA15). Participation in these key events has increased outreach and contributed to practical suggestions from participants on improving the ARA Principles and strengthening its planned programme of work. 

The participation of the wide array of stakeholders has ensured that the ARA’s activities and Principles are relevant for a diversity of stakeholders (funders, actors, researchers, and more). ARA members will be asked to endorse a final set of Principles ahead of COP26. In addition, engagement in the events has provided a space for urgent and fruitful discussions on what is needed to bring adaptation solutions to life within communities at risk of climate change impacts in the Global South. 

Meaningful discussions on collaboration, reducing climate risks and enabling adaptation action

 

Anand Patwardhan (ARA Co-Chair) presents at Global Forum Funders: “The ARA’s mission is to instigate the transformative change needed for action research, with emphasis on the Global South. We not only address the knowledge gap, but build capacity.”

 

The ARA session at the Global Forum Funders event provided a space for stakeholders to discuss the challenges and opportunities associated with multi-lateral collaborations, a key focus point the ARA seeks to explore and leverage. Key messages emerging from the discussions were the need for funding partnerships (both private and public), a focus on implementing transdisciplinary and participatory research methodologies and an iterative and adaptive approach to finding solutions to climate change. 

At the 5th European Climate Change Adaptation Conference (ECCA), Rosalind West (Co-chair of the ARA) continued the discussion on collaboration and pressed the need for co-creative and consultative research processes in which multiple stakeholders from various disciplines identify priority questions in the climate adaptation space. The discussion continued in a later breakout group in which the ARA Principles were reviewed. One participant, in particular, raised the importance of the Principles being used to enable research that responds to the demands of communities at risk of climate impacts. This critical point is at the heart of the ARA mission. 

 

The 6 Proposed Principles of the ARA.

 

The series of events culminated in a session on ‘radical collaboration’ at the 15th International Conference on Community-based Adaptation to Climate Change (CBA15) that the ARA hosted together with the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre. Examples of iconic radical collaboration were shared by Resurgence, We Effect and SOAS University of London, and the Akiba Mashinani Trust providing important lessons for the ARA and highlighting the critical need to use radically collaborative approaches such as these to address climate risks and adaptation solutions. The ARA aims to harness the main points from these discussions in developing co-creation spaces to facilitate radical collaborations amongst researcher and practitioner organisations and funders to develop transdisciplinary projects and programmes.

What next? 

Radical collaboration is key to the systemic changes needed for effective action research at a scale commensurate with the climate challenge. We invite you to strive toward this systemic change with us and join the growing action and research communities that are building this pioneering global partnership to make radical collaboration the norm for climate adaptation.

Over the next few months, the ARA will build on this progress with further engagements to maintain momentum and continue to develop the ARA and grow its network in the run-up to its official launch at COP26. 

 

Upcoming ARA engagement not to miss: 

  • Asia-Pacific Climate Week: ‘’Radical Collaboration – Strengthening Action and Research on Adaptation in the Asia Pacific Region’’, 6 July- 15:00 – 17:00 (GMT+9). Register here.

_________________________________________________________________

If you would like to become a member of the ARA, you can contact ara@southsouthnorth.org  

For updates, follow the Adaptation Research Alliance on Twitter: @Adapt_Alliance and LinkedIN: Adaptation Research Alliance

This article was written by Sydney Church with contributions from ARA Secretariat.