Communication approaches for science-policy-practice interfacing discussed


The International Centre for Integrated Mountain development (ICIMOD) and the Asia Pacific Adaptation Network (APAN) successfully concluded a two-day workshop aimed at strengthening communication approaches in dealing with science, policy, and practice. 

The workshop ‘Supporting Climate Change Adaptation Policy and Action in the HKH Region: Strengthening Communication Approaches for Science-Policy-Practice Interfacing’ was an important side event of the recently concluded international conference on poverty and vulnerability in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region.

The workshop, held on 3 and 4 December 2013, sought to identify effective communication approaches to support climate change adaptation policy and action in the Hindu Kush Himalayas. It recommended approaches to strengthen science-policy-practice interfacing.

Welcoming the participants to the workshop, Anja Moller Rasmussen, Senior Manager, Knowledge Management and Communication, ICIMOD, stressed on the need to strengthen communication, networks, and break knowledge silos in adaptation to change. 

Dr Eklabya Sharma, Director Programme Operations of ICIMOD, called on the participants to draw up a set of recommendations on how to strengthen communication approaches in view of science-policy practices. 

“Adaptation is living with change, change is not new, and people have been adapting to change,” he said. “However, the rate of change is rather unnerving. Therefore, communicating with an effective integrated approach for planned adaptation is of utmost importance.”

Dr Jian Liu of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) stressed that such platforms bring knowledge brokers and development communication experts together so that they can appraise each other of ongoing seminal works in the region. 

Mozaharul Alam (Babu) of UNEP Regional Office for Asia Pacific (ROAP) underscored that Science-Policy-Practice is a very important nexus, and communication plays an important role in connecting the three actors. Failing to consider communication while addressing scientific knowledge brought forward by scientists would be like treating a patient without proper diagnoses, he said.

Dr Paul Desankar, Manager, Adaptation Programme, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), emphasized that science is already there, but the challenge lies in using it for policy formulations and in reaching out to the most vulnerable communities. 

At a guided discussion on science-policy-practice interfacing and communication needs and recommendations, participants reached the following conclusions:

  • Scientific findings could be simplified for policymakers and general public
  • Capacities of those who simplify the scientific findings into easy-to-understand language could be further built
  • Channels for effective communication between scientists and policymakers needs strengthening 
  • Communication should be recognized as a two way traffic 
  • The role of media in science communication to be recognized and their capacity must be further built
  • Dialogue between policymakers and scientists could be strengthened and simplified 

Speaking at the closing session, Dr Jian Liu of UNEP stressed that climate change adaptation is a knowledge intensive process where stakeholders should start working with the assessment of the problems and identify the options on the ground. 

The need to simplify the message while considering the problems that over simplicity might bring was the key message from Dr Puja Sawhney of APAN. She also highlighted the role of APAN in bringing experts and practitioners to a common platform for regular and relevant dialogue.