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Next steps for climate change social learning initiative – implementation, incubation, partnering, testing, scaling…

Climate change is a wicked problem, it requires wicked solutions, not business-as-usual.

The CGIAR research program on climate change, agriculture and food security (CCAFS) recognised this when they joined up with International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and other partners to look at the potential of social learning and communication approaches to support decision-making on climate change adaptation and mitigation. The growing body of work has been referred to as ‘CCSL’ (climate change and and social learning) since the foundation workshop in May 2012. See related ILRI news items and these blog posts.

One year later, a small CCSL group sat together in a ‘plan-and-write-shop’ to review progress made and outputs developed and to bring this work to the next level. The focus was on implementation and testing of social learning hypotheses and approaches or tools at scale.

Since the start of this work, the CCSL team has developed a body of work which encompasses a number of projects which has led to a growing collection of resources dedicated to social learning in climate change and agriculture.

Much has been done and produced, however the team has worked in a rather opportunistic manner. The priority was to explore the five priority areas identified in May 2012 and to understand social learning approaches looking at past literature and experiences (i.e. desk-based work). When that body of work was presented to the wider CCAFS team during their annual science meeting, the feedback was clear: ‘make this practical and help us try it out in vivo’.

Results of the plan-and-writeshop

From 25 to 27 June, the CCSL group systematically reviewed all projects and publications produced and planned (resulting in this updated table of CCSL resources). The team will systematically review case studies and develop them into a well-structured database, including clear examples of successes and failures with social learning and associated experiences.

The team also developed a very initial vision and a strategy for a second phase of CCSL, focused on implementing social learning in CCAFS and elsewhere and engaging other institutions and individuals interested in this work. For the second phase, ambitions are stepping up, as CCAFS is ready to test CCSL ideas in its activities, but also other players, among which the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and partners in the Food Systems Innovation for Food Security (FSIFS) programme in Australia.

The new vision and strategy elaborated in late June are the following:

The vision – and overarching hypothesis – is that social learning helps institutions and individuals involved get smarter by combining their perspectives and capacities, and as a result they achiever smarter, more sustainable and collectively supported development outcomes.

The strategy is still in the making but some of its main pointers are:

  • To rapidly collect evidence of benefits and limitations of social learning by supporting incubation mechanisms for networks of local innovators (and social learners).
  • To document experiences using social learning approaches that primarily test two assumptions: 1) that social learning positively influence institutions and their effectiveness (led through IDRC’s CARIAA [Collaborative Adaptation Research Initiative in Africa and Asia] programme); and 2: that social learning helps achieve better development outcomes (led through CCAFS and FSIFS).
  • To work around these initiatives following a robust and replicable ‘framework for action’ that involves assessing and choosing social learning approaches, ensuring proper process facilitation, documenting and collecting evidence, feeding evidence into planning, and disseminating results.
  • To continue using the CCSL sandbox as a mechanism to incubate and validate ideas and possible joint activities with an interested group of people that connects around various events and other initiatives.

The three days were very intensive and productive. The next step is to turn these words into action …

Notes from the plan-and-writeshop

Next steps

Social learning resources

Take a peek at upcoming and past events involving CCSL members

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