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REPORT: Cultivating fields of change: Collaborative learning through research


This START publication highlights the need for co-productive processes between researchers and affected communities in dealing with the effects and risks of climate change.

“Cultivating Fields of Change: Collaborative Learning Through Research” features research findings from the 2011–2012 round of START’s GEC research grants, which was co-funded by CDKN. The publication offers a highly readable synthesis of 16 research projects from 14 African countries on the theme of global environmental change, agriculture, and food security.

The featured projects are topically and geographically diverse. They range from food production and livelihoods in estuaries, river deltas and lagoons in northern, western and southern Africa, to agriculture and conservation at the forest fringe in humid areas, to livelihoods derived from agriculture and tourism in semi-arid areas. However, a unifying characteristic of the research is the innovative partnerships between researchers, local communities, policy makers, NGOs, sectoral experts, and others that START’s “action oriented” research agenda cultivates.

In assessing the findings that emerge around climatic uncertainty, vulnerability and adaptation, Jon Padgham, START Secretariat Deputy Director, notes that the focus should be on learning to adapt well rather than being well adapted. “A key element of adapting well is to create opportunities for strong engagement between scientific and traditional spheres of knowledge that support processes of co-exploration and learning as well as the co-development of relevant and actionable responses for dealing with climate change,” argues Padgham.

The full publication is available here.

For more information on CDKN’s support for START, visit the project page.

Image courtesy of Charles Nhemachena – a happy farmer in maize field, Zimbabwe.

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