START led the design and facilitation of a workshop for fellows from the Global Program of Research on Climate Change Vulnerability, Impacts and Adaptation (PROVIA) after the Adaptation Futures conference in Rotterdam, 14-15 May 2016. Dr. Saleemul Huq, Dr. Emma Porio, and Ms. Saskia Harmsen participated as guest facilitators, along with the four fellows from Nepal, Malawi, and Kenya. The fellows had recently completed a one-month stay at their respective host institutions and prepared draft proposals for their PROVIA Fellowship research projects. The Adaptation Futures conference and START-organized workshop provided a well-timed opportunity for the fellows to meet each other and refine their research proposals before embarking on implementation.
The morning of May 14th was dedicated to discussing what it means to involve stakeholders in the research process. All three guest facilitators were present and possessed extensive experience working with communities. Dr. Huq shared stories on working with stakeholders in Bangladesh on climate adaptation research, and community-based adaptation in particular; Dr. Porio similarly shared stories of working with communities in the Philippines; and Ms. Harmsen highlighted the importance of using varying methods of communication to reach different audiences. The fellows also contributed stories from their own experience, and there was a lively discussion on how researchers can build trust with the communities they want to work in, continuously engage with communities throughout the research process, and communicate research findings to influence change in policy or practice.
This framing conversation was followed by presentations from the fellows on their research ideas. Each fellow identified their research purpose, methods, stakeholders involved, outputs, and impact they hoped to have. Their presentations were followed by feedback from both the guest facilitators and fellows. It was an important chance for the fellows to receive constructive criticism and input before beginning their field research. Facilitators also suggested novel outputs, in addition to academic publications, for the fellows to produce. These ranged from a publicly available database on Baghmati River water quality in Nepal, to an agricultural extension circular in Malawi, to a PhD proposal.
Day 2 drilled down deeper into research planning and communication. Tools for planning how the research projects would engage with stakeholders to bring about change were introduced, including project theory of change and outcome logic models. Fellows considered the various actors they would interact with in their research project, and strategies that they would employ to encourage use of their research outputs. Fellows also thought more carefully about communication, how nuanced it is, and how vital it is to understand these nuances when working with communities and striving to bring about change in actors’ policy and practice.
The workshop concluded with reflections from the fellows on their PROVIA Fellowship experience so far, the Adaptation Futures conference, and the workshop. All felt privileged to be PROVIA fellows and were grateful to receive support and mentorship from the program, as well as exposure to experts in their field and recognition for their research accomplishments. The PROVIA fellows are now implementing their research projects, and will have final papers and outputs produced by the end of September 2016.