This is a lay summary of the article published under the DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-92798-5_23
A study in East Africa has shown that creating diverse networks of people to tackle climate change increases knowledge of climate science and ensures that policies are “climate smart”. The result is improved decision-making and a better approach when creating climate change policies.
In East Africa, climate change poses a threat to the livelihoods of many rural people. Though there have been efforts to tackle the issue, a key challenge is coordinating the work of government and other institutions and organisations.
One way to achieve this is the creation of groups, called multi-stakeholder platforms (MSPs), that include representatives from many different institutions, like the government, universities and non-profit organisations.
In this study, the researchers wanted to find out whether creating MSPs would lead to better climate change policies.
Between 2014-2017, they monitored 8 MSPs that were created as part of a larger project about climate change and agriculture in Uganda and Tanzania. The researchers attended the same meetings as the members of the MSP groups and used questionnaires to find out how much the members knew about climate change and policy-making processes.
They also asked whether MSP members knew about climate adaptation strategies that could be used in specific areas. These strategies allow people in rural areas to adapt to climate change by using “climate-smart” approaches, like growing different crops or managing their water supply more efficiently.
Finally, the researchers asked members of two of the MSPs about the organisations they worked with. They were interested in finding out how different organisations shared knowledge about climate change projects and guidelines.
The researchers found that at the start of the MSP meetings, most of the members knew about the impacts of climate change, but very few knew about adaptation strategies that could be used in specific areas, and only some knew about policy-making processes.
Over time, however, the MSP members learned a lot more about climate change adaptation from experts who gave talks during their meetings. The members said that they shared the knowledge they gained with other people in their communities, as well as politicians and colleagues.
The researchers also found out that most organisations learned about climate change projects and guidelines from government departments, like the Forestry or Wildlife Department. Through the MSPs, however, members had a chance to build new connections and found new ways to share information.
Importantly, the researchers said that the MSPs had an influence on policies that were created at national or regional levels. In the smaller MSPs, for example, members discussed how specific areas could best adapt to climate change and made “climate-smart” recommendations that informed governmental development plans in those areas.
The researchers say that these results show that creating MSPs can lead to better climate change policies, made with climate-smart science in mind.
They add that future studies should look at whether MSPs continue to operate successfully in the long-term. They also say it’s important to investigate how many members of MSPs should be from the government versus other organisations to ensure their continued success.
The study was a collaboration between scientists from Uganda, Kenya, Colombia, the Netherlands and Vietnam.
Research-based evidence on the adoption of climate-smart agricultural practices is vital to their effective uptake, continued use and wider diffusion. In addition, an enabling policy environment at the national and regional levels is necessary for this evidence to be used effectively. This chapter analyzes a 4-year period of continuous policy engagement in East Africa in an attempt to understand the role of multi-stakeholder platforms (MSPs) in facilitating an enabling policy environment for climate change adaptation and mitigation. The study shows how MSPs enhanced a sense of ownership, developed knowledge, created linkages between different governance levels and a wide variety of actors (including policymakers and scientists), and, most significantly, improved policy formulation.
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