Collaborating with climate knowledge brokers – two workshops

I just got back from another intensive workshop – or rather two to be precise.

Last Friday REEEP and OpenEI held a joint workshop on Linked Open Data and how it could be a useful technology to accelerate climate change adaptation and mitigation. REEEP‘s IT Director Florian Bauer and Jon Weers of OpenEI presented the status quo of data silos and explained how LOD can help us overcome these and reduce duplication and errors. Again, some of the most fundamental issues that came up in discussions were quality of data, demand and reuse as well technical implications.

Saturday and Sunday were packed with presentations and sessions of the Climate Knowledge Brokers (CKB) Workshop, this year co-organized by Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN), German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) and REEEP. Since this yearly get-together of the people behind many of the world’s best platforms on climate related subjects is a unique opportunity of peer discussion, participants were highly engaged and outspoken about challenges, success and ambition.co2.gif

Some of the major thematic blocks included online marketing and increased outreach, recognition of one’s platforms (target) users, measuring impact and the changing funding environment. The integration and use of shared tools that were developed as a direct result of the CKB groups’ networking activities were also presented as major success stories.

The tools are both available for free integration and use:

  • the Climate Navigator Widget, a project led by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS). This widget functions as a “portal of portals” in the climate knowledge sector, and helps users to reach the right location to fulfill their needs. Specification of sector  (mitigation, adaptation, development) and required type of resource (project outcome document, research findings, numerical data etc) allow much more efficient searching.
  • the reegle Tagging API is a project initiated and led by REEEP and aims to harmonize tagging and categorization across individual climate knowledge platforms and promote increased cross-referencing to overcome information silos. The idea is that when documents are consistently tagged it becomes much easier to automatically recognize related resources and offer the user further reading on a subject area, even when a document is located on another platform.

A recurring theme across many discussions was the tougher-than-before funding environment and how to access the funds available. It was agreed that proofing impact is a major requirement, and the Theory of Change approach was often mentioned as a framework to design successful proposals. recycle.gif

Analyzing the users of our respective platforms, and trying to pin down who it is that we actually cater for, was another important area of exchange. A strong focus on what our target users, often policy-makers or advisers, really need and want is key. Results of a survey presented at the workshop showed that many still search mostly for documents (reports or summaries), and a low-tech approach was often preferred. That is a clear call to improve search functionality within our portals through better tagging and guiding the user to related resources.

All in all is was a very active and busy weekend with everyone contributing and learning. It became obvious that the CKBs are keen to continue this collaboration, possibly in a more formalized way. I will be interested to see what the future holds for us!

Both the LOD and the CKB workshop were held at the GIZ premises in Bonn, Germany.

Also check out the CDKN’s article  about the CKB workshop series!

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