Climate Change

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Back to Brussels 09 Main Page

Who Huddled

  • Carl Jackson [1]
  • Binetou Diagne [2]
  • Reza Salim [3]
  • Wini Dagli [4]
  • Samir Bejaoui [5]
  • Gabriela Fuerer [6]
  • Peter J. Bury [7] - WASHuddle facilitation allowing
  • Benjamin Zhu
  • James Nguo
  • Charles Dhewa [8]
  • Ana Maria Ponce [9]
  • Raphael Yimga
  • Phillipe Breton


  • Dr Dhujati Chaudhuri [10]
  • Denise Senmartin[11]

Introduction to the climate change huddle

Welcome to the Climate Change Huddle. With negotiations on the successor climate agreement at the top of the international agenda this year this is a hot issue. To date the climate change policy space has been dominted by scientific and economic debates and action agendas have focused on tangible issues like infrastructure and disaster risk reduction. Taking a knowledge management / knowlege sharing and development angle on climate change might highlight under valued factors such as local knowledges (including values and experience), investment in intagible adaptation / resilience assets, climate risks to knowledge infrastructure (how vulnerable is the internet to climate shocks) and role of decentralised knowledge networks in creating resilient systems for a radically changing world.

Pre-Huddle Questions / Issues / Possible Outcomes

Before meeting at the KM4Dev Gathering in Brussels we shared some questions and issues that could be discussed:

  • What's the scope for mobile phone based social networks sharing climate adaptation knowledge in rural areas (e.g. Frontline SMS, MxIt, Sembusa)?
    • I suppose this is possible and would be a wonderful idea to spread!!
  • What are the specific trends and challenges that are affecting climate change and for which KM/KS could have a positive impact?
    • overcoming recent history of knowledge being used in discredited ways to deny climate change
    • rapid and unpredictable changes in the demand for knowledge on climate change
    • bridging the gap between global climate change policy / science and local knowledges on climate adaptation / resilience
  • What factors/ideas are specific to KM/KS for climate change and which more universal?
    • specific factors / ideas include: link to systems / ecological framing of knowledge; globalised policy discourses; gaps between scientific and social epistemologies.
    • universal factors / ideas include: challenges of meta categorisation of knowledge; co-ordination of KM / KS funders / implementers; differential exclusion / super-inclusion of language groups.
  • How does climate change relate to the other huddle topics at the conference (agriculture, social media, education, water and sanitation, population)?

We also shared some possible outcomes for the climate change huddle by the end of the workshop:

  • principles of how knowledge management / knowledge sharing can positively and specifically impact on the trends and challenges of climate change and development
  • increased awareness of how KM / KS in other huddle areas relate to climate change and development and where there are opportunities for positive synergies
  • action / research agenda on KM / KS in climate change and development to share with actors beyond the KM4Dev community


Before meeting in Brussels we shared some examples that illustrated interesting application of KM tools, approaches, methodologies in relation to climate change.

  • The Role of Participatory Video in Amplifying Children's Voices on Climate Change: [12] This research project, part of the Children in a Changing Climate program, is determining if new, affordable video technologies can be used to help Nepali communities, including children, identify climate risks and develop adaptation strategies. It is also part of citizen-led advocacy efforts that help the community more easily and effectively engage with decision-makers.
  • AfricaAdapt is an independent bilingual network (French/English) focused exclusively on Africa: [13] The Network’s aim is to facilitate the flow of climate change adaptation knowledge for sustainable livelihoods between researchers, policy makers, civil society organisations and communities who are vulnerable to climate variability and change across the continent.
  • Community Based Adaptation Exchange (CBA-X) is a shared online resource designed to bring together and grow the CBA community: [14] It provides a site for the exchange of up-to-date information about community-based adaptation, including news, events, case-studies, tools, policy resources, and videos.
  • weADAPT is a collaboration between leading organisations on climate adaptation and includes new and innovative tools and methods, datasets, experience and guidance:[15] weADAPT provides guidance by pooling expertise from a wide range of organisations that contribute to adaptation science and practice.
  • Capacity Strengthening of Least Developed Countries for Adaptation to Climate Change (CLACC) [16] CLACC works to strengthen the capacity of civil society in LDCs to adapt to climate change creating greater adaptive capacity among the most vulnerable groups; establish an information and knowledge system catering to countries dealing with the adverse impacts of climate change; and mainstream the NAPA process with key non-governmental stakeholders
  • Extracting grassroots indicators of Climate Change (contributed by Charles Dhewa, Knowledge Transfer Africa, Harare, Zimbabwe). People of Kamwa Community in Gokwe North District of Zimbabwe are renowned farmers who have been producing cotton, maize, groundnuts, small grains and livestock for decades. Since 1985 to date, they have seen a decline in their production and standard of living due to the adverse effects on climate change on their agricultural activities. We recently engaged the community through Open Space, Appreciative Enquiry and other participatory methods to understand their interpretation of climate change. Identifying and documenting more than 30 community indicators of climate change was an intriguing process. Farmers, traditional leaders and rainmakers in the community have diverse climate change signals for tracking changes to their fortunes. According to the participants, in the 1980s, the Stork bird used to appear around early September indicating impending rainfall. These days, it does not come at all. Cotton planting often commenced on 15 October but the dates have now shifted to mid November. Birds and trees which used to signify changes in the agricultural season are no longer doing so and the farmers have to guess whether there will be sufficient rainfall or not. Drought, which used to affect the community once in four years, has become a permanent feature once every two years. Local rainmakers (Svikiro) blame it on the fact that people no longer appease their ancestors. They no longer brew beer according to procedures laid down throughout generations. One of the reasons is that due to repeated drought, there is insufficient sorghum and rapoko which are the main crops used to brew the beer. Elders who were well versed with the practice have also died without passing on the skills and traditions to young people. Community experts who can identify the water table using small branches of the mumbondo tree say it is now difficult to site water wells compared to the 1980s. Traditional medical practitioners are walking long distances to harvest herbs and medicinal trees which were previously abundant in the community. A small tree with large leaves has started growing in most fields. The farmers say they have never seen such a tree in their lifetime. We took branches of the tree to the National Herbarium in Harare so that botanists could assist in identifying its scientific name. We are still to get the answer. Some of the adaptation measures in the communities include conservation agriculture, tree planting and various water harvesting methods. Our input to adaption has centred on setting up Community Knowledge Centres where local knowledge such as community indicators of climate change and income levels is stored, evaluated and integrated with knowledge from other sources such as agricultural extensionists. This is helping communities in making decisions about local empowerment initiatives. Young people are being trained to collect and process the information. Through this process, local communities could contribute their knowledge to global strategies for dealing with climate change.
  • Climate Voice [17] ClimateVoice is the hub for online reporting as world leaders focus on climate change. We have independent bloggers covering the UN climate summit, the G20, UN Bangkok and Barcelona negotiations, and Copenhagen itself. Read dispatches from on-the-ground journalists and bloggers at ClimateVoice digital media centers and catch breaking news, live video, twitter streams, and aggregated blog feeds.
  • Climate Change Videos (selected by Binetou Diagne - ENDA TM / AfricaAdapt)
    • Climate Change: Who to Trust? Traditional Knowledge vs Science in Alaska [18]
    • Climate Modeling & Native Knowledge in Alaska [19]
    • Remapping Africa - Indigenous Mapping and Climate Change (Indigenious People African Coodination Committee) [20]
    • Remapping Africa - Part 2 [21]
    • Traditional Knowledge and climate prediction in Kenya (ICPACC) [22]

Process for Climate Change Huddle

At the Brussels gathering the Climate Change Huddle explored our topic by: 1. Storytelling (personal experiences of the impact of climate change) 2. Identifying Unique Features (of the climate change issue) 3. Brainstorming Potential KM/KS Tools and Approaches 4. Reorientation of Focus Day 2: choosing one unique feature and one related issue for discussion 5. Mindmaping KS Tools and Approaches (that could respond to the issue) 6. Identifying Practical Actions

Outcome of climate change huddle

Participants: Carl, Binetou, Gabriela, Ana Maria, Raza, Raphael, James, Charles, Wini, Ben, Samir, Philippe (Bee), Peter(Bee), Nadja(Bee)

Process Overwiew: 1. Storytelling 2. Unique Features 3. Brainstorming km4Dev Tools 4. Reorientation of Focus: choosing a unique feature and one related Issue on that feature 5. Mindmap on Issue 6. Practical Actions

1. Storytelling To ground our discussion of KM / KS and climate change we decided to begin by sharing concrete and ideally first hand stories of the impacts of climate change.

  • (Kenya): Because lack of the rainfall the water supply utility has been restricting the piped water supply to Nairobi so that the hydro-electric plant will still work. As a result people are storing water at home in underground tanks when it is available. However because the hydro-electric plant is not able to work at capactiy the power company is restricting electricity supply. So even though people have water in their tanks they often can not access it because there is no electricity to run the pump that brings water up from the tank. The story illustrated first that the impacts of climate change can complex and interconnected in ways that individual actors (the water Water Utility and the Power Company) don't or can't see in a joined up way. Secondly because the impact is in an urban area of one million, including those more wealtly and powerfull, there is an opportunity for those who make decisions to experience the problem and be motivated to action, perhaps pressured by civil society organisations who are also more active in urban areas. This contrasted to impacts of climate change in rural locations where decision makers and campaigners were less represented.
  • (Bangladesh): In the coastal region of Bangladesh a community ICT4D program had initiated community household surveys of 100 households as a tool for community development. Students in the community were trained in survey methods and had access to laptop computers to compile and analyse the data which was updated update every week. When the most recent cyclone struck the coastal areas of Bangladesh the impact on lives and infrastructure was devastating. Suddenly there was no electricity, no mobile or phone communication and no information availabe on the situation on the ground was available for 18 hours. However in the community surveyed by the students the students laptops, running off battery with their own duplicate copies of the community survey had a recent accurate baseline just priort to the cyclone's impact and so could report on the extend of loss of life and damage. The government and other relief agencies were able to access this information in 6-8 hours. This story illustrated the value of a detailed and up to date database as a tool for post disaster planning and also the resiliance of a distributed network of knowledge with the capacity to work off the power and communications grid.
  • (Philippines) Less than a month before our workshop typhoon Ketsana hit Manila and neighboring parts of the Philippines, killing around 300 people, causing millions of dollars in economic losses, and leaving thousands homeless. According to expert, the typhoon was the strongest in 40 years and dumped more rain than Hurricane Katrina in the U.S. People were caught unprepared as there were no accurate early warning information given to the public hours before a great flood inundated the urban Manilla area. In the aftermath of the disaster, lapses in government policies were obvious-- lack of effective and proactive pre-disaster management plans, few rain gauges in the urban areas, failure to link climate change issues to other sectoral issues such as poverty alleviation in urban areas, water and sanitation, uncontrolled urbanization in flood-prone areas, and lack of coordination among agencies who provide disaster response and rescue operations functions. There had been a tendency to focus on planning for the anticipated negative impacts of climate disasters rather than on preventative measures and links to positive development (social safety nets, insurance).
    • Similar sudden flooding events were also reported in urban areas in West African countries where urban development was not being managed, the biggest in Burkina Faso and also Senegal. In Dhaka water had risen above the level of cars in a short time and people were trapped in offices. The next day colleagues reporting for work had lost all their possesions and the office rallied round to offer support and loan clothes and money. Even today in some areas houses continued to be so damp that frogs were now moving into peoples homes and causing distress.
  • (Sahel Zone) Food insecurity the Sahelian area of Africa was partly due to population pressures and land tenure but also strongly linked to climate driven issues of water availability and pests. The food security crises of 1974, 1983 and 2005 had all been predicted by research and specialist scientific bodies set up to advice government but each time those responsible for taking decisions, the politicians, had failed to act in time. So with what confidence could we believe that politicians would respond any differently to current advice on climate change? What was needed was more of a planned developmental approach taken by government in advance rather than humanitarian responses by outside agencies in reaction to disasters. Again this illustrated that climate change was a systemic issue that requires systematic preventative planning.

2.Unique Features of Climate Change that KM/KS Should Note Having shared and clarified our first hand stories of climate change impacts we highlighted what were the most unique features or issues of climate change that KM / KS practitioners and actions should consider paying special attention to. In doing this we tried hard to exclude things that though part of the climate change challenge were also common to challenges in other sectors.

Climate Change has the following unique features:

  • sudden impacts are often totally life threatening (more like conflict than lack of education)
  • causes and effects are often systemic (complex and interconnected) and so linear / silo responses are very inadequate - requires a systematic approach
  • it is a global phenomenon but has very localised impacts
  • concrete data for prediction of the local impact (when, where, how, scale) of climate change is very difficult or impossible to gather
  • [one feature missing here]

3.Brainstorm on Common Knowledge Management / KS Tools and Approaches Before moving to discuss the issuses and possible actions that related to the unique features of climate change we decided to share examples of common KM / KS tools and approaches (approaches too becuase Knowledge Management is also a method to achieve knowledge sharing) so that we had a more shared understanding of our practice area:

  • Common KM/KS Tools and Approaches
    • Face to face Meeting
    • E-conferencing Meetings
    • Social Media: Radio, TV, Blip, Flickr, Web 2.0
    • Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, D-group, Blogs, Chats, E-Mails, SMS, Wiki, Youtube
    • E-bulletins
    • Virtual Libraries
    • Web Platforms
    • Organizational Learning
    • Peer assists
    • Mentoring / Coaching
    • Monitoring and Evaluation
    • Knowledge Mapping
    • Knowledge Banking (Data Systems)
    • Storytelling
    • Diagraming
    • Drama
    • Radio
    • Networks
    • Partnership Building
    • Multistakeholder discussions

Wini Dagli later provided his reflections on the climate huddle's discussions and the process used to frame them. Wini was particularly struck with the complexity and difficulties associated with prediction that are an integral part of working in the climate context. See the video here:

4.Reorientation of Focus: choosing a unique feature and one related Issue on that feature

On Day 2 of our Huddle we became pressed for time and also concerned that we need to get even more concrete in our discussions and so we chose to focus on one of the unique features of climate change A global phenomenom with very local impact and one practical issue How to make regional climate scenarios relevant to local communities

Target groups: Regional Governments, Easy fort hem to say that problem ist to big or low priority Context: Responsible Governments for taking decisions, they aren’t responding Scientist are not successfully informing Government Approach: • Capacity Development of Scients/Medias in Influencing Intermediaries ( of Governments o KM-Role: Introduce effective alternative approaches to sharing knowledge o KM-Role: Supporting Actors (Media, Parlamentarians etc. Researchers, Radio Stations) to inform Decision Makers, helping different actors to become aware of each other o Improving access of Local Governments to other Local Governments which have better access to Research Results • Network of Parlamentarians (field visits etc.) • Campaigning by National and International Groups with E-campagning Tools and Social Media, to implement International conventions Tools: Mapping knowledge flows and actors in a policy space

6. Praktical Actions - KM/KS Event at Copenhagen - Regional/International Monitoring Systems - Exploring the linkages between humanitarian and developmental responses to climate change

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