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Joint knowledge production for climate change adaptation: what is in it for science?

Dries Hegger, Environmental Governance, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University
Carel Dieperink, Environmental Governance, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University


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Both in literature and in practice, it is claimed that joint knowledge production (JKP) by researchers, policy makers, and other societal actors is necessary to make science relevant for addressing climate adaptation. Although recent assessments of JKP projects have provided some arguments in favor of their societal merit, much less is known about their scientific merit. We explored the latter by developing a conceptual framework addressing characteristics of doing JKP as well as hypotheses on potential merits and pitfalls in terms of its process, output, and impact for science. Semistructured interviews with six environmental science research leaders as well as discussions with five researchers involved in past JKP projects were used to start operationalizing the framework into criteria and compiling a survey. This survey was filled out by 144 researchers involved in Knowledge for Climate, a large Dutch multiactor research program. The findings suggest that, at least in the context of recently carried out Dutch climate adaptation projects, JKP contributes to a broader empirical knowledge base; more reflexivity on the part of researchers; and more publications for policy makers. We conclude this paper by formulating next research steps, including evaluating what would be a proper balance between more versus less participatory forms of scientific knowledge production.

Key words

climate change adaptation; joint knowledge production (JKP); science studies; survey; The Netherlands

Copyright © 2015 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087