CCAFS / Climate change / Event / ILRIComms / Knowledge and Information

Social learning, climate change and food security: The CCSL sandbox

In late 2011, the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) issued a call for proposals to help develop a CCAFS ‘strategy on communication and social learning’.  This was the start of a collaboration between CCAFS and ILRI’s Knowledge Management and Information Services (KMIS) team on Climate Change and Social Learning (CCSL)

In May 2012, CCAFS organized a workshop on communication and social learning in climate change to examine how social learning and communication could further CCAFS objectives to generally support better local decision making on climate change in agriculture and food security. The event brought together participants from CGIAR centres but also non-governmental organizations and donor agencies. Out of the workshop, the CCAFS teamset up a series of followup activities.

Social learning is a fuzzy concept which was debated at length in May and led CCAFS social learning work to focus on five promising themes: endogenous social learning, documentation of social learning, time scales, social differentiation and social learning in CCAFS. Several projects were undertaken to unpack the concept and existing experiences.

In particular, a CCSL ‘sandbox‘ was set up as a space to source ideas and discuss these issues. The sandbox is also intended to help seed joint initiatives that could lead to social learning ventures supporting CCAFS’s objective to improve local decision-making about climate change adaptation. Essentially, the sandbox consists of a wiki and a Yammer network.

CCAFS also funded a stock-taking exercise of social learning and related initiatives across CGIAR – looking for expertise and experiences to build on.

These were discussed in a November 2012 workshop to review the lessons and insights gathered through the years. In addition, this workshop planned some additional activities around priority areas for CCAFS (and possibly other CGIAR research programs).

Through the three days of the event, participants have thus heard about the stocktaking project they organized a ‘show-and-tell’ marketplace featuring some of these experiences in more detail; they pictured what social learning in climate change could look like (see here and here).

To better make sense of the rich CGIAR social learning experience – as represented by the 128 social learning cases compiled by consultant Julian Gonsalves, participants agreed to develop a narrative to explain the rationale of social learning (in climate change and food security and beyond, as there is value for all other CGIAR research programs), and to try and pin down a framework that explains how the different social learning initiatives fit today’s research for development challenges. The workshop paved the way for additional work on these two tracks and on a number of other ‘next steps‘.

Over the course of 2012, the KMIS team has worked closely with CCAFS – on the event design and facilitation, establishing the sandbox, helping connect the various project partners (IDS, IIED, Euforic services, and others), and generally moving the process forward.

In March 2013, CCSL moves to the UK and the USA with a series of events planned to bring these ideas into other forums. From the sandbox, social learning is stepping into the wild – but the unknown is where social learning thrives…

Read notes and see products from the November meeting.

See a selection of pictures from the November workshop.

Find out more about the climate change social learning sandbox.

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