A@A Knowledge Network: Learning Event #1 Summary

Multiple Authors


The Adaptation at Altitude (A@A) Knowledge Network convened its first learning event on 28th November 2023. The learning event was hosted online by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) under the Adaptation at Altitude programme, supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). The event gathered approximately 30 participants all working on or with an interest in mountain environments and co-creating and integrating local knowledge. 

The A@A Knowledge Network meeting was opened by Rosie Witton (SEI), who provided a brief introduction to the A@A Knowledge Network then Kate Williamson (SEI) provided an overview of the learning event agenda before introducing the panellists:

  • Emilie Dupuits, Professor of international relations at the University San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador​
  • Kweku Koranteng, Senior Partnership and Fund Engagement Lead at the Adaptation Research Alliance​
  • Tariel Karelidze, Community Liaison Officer at the Asian Development Bank​

A panel of experts convened during the learning event to discuss what co-creation is, why integrating local knowledge is important in adapting to climate change, and how we can apply and operationalise this approach effectively in mountain environments. This was followed by a Q&A session.

Meeting Outcomes

Why is local knowledge so important when conducting mountain adaptation projects or adaptation projects more broadly?
  • Climate change as we know it is challenging and can be difficult to adapt to. We have reached crisis levels and there is a need for various stakeholders to work together and address the impacts of climate change using a multi-stakeholder approach.
  • Each definition of local knowledge can be different, and this should be considered when conducting projects/research.
  • Co-creation process are often proposed within projects, to work with various stakeholders including community members, policy makers, and other sectors who may not be engaging already. Co-creation is important to start the engagement process, break down silos, and to ensure projects are aligned with interests and relevant challenges. 
  • It is important to change perspectives on local actors including indigenous or local communities, from being considered recipients of projects to direct actors of change.
  • Often local knowledge has been considered separate or inferior to scientific knowledge but this should be considered complementary and important in adaptation projects. 
  • Importance of knowledge integration is very important at each stage, including design.
  • Cultural sensitivity is important during implementation of all projects, and participation should be undertaken in all projects and activities as most important message.
Can you provide a successful story or a co-creation example, and/or can you provide an example of the challenges you have encountered whilst conducting co-creation projects?
  • One major challenge experienced is being able to mobilise various actors into the same space. Different actors have different power dynamics; academia has knowledge power, policy makers have political power, and community members may not have power but they may have influence. It is important to manage interest, expectation, and power.
  • When planning interventions in communities, there are defining factors that make a community vulnerable or key topics that are important to the community. By addressing these vulnerabilities or identifying key topics of interest as entry points for a project there is likely to be increased support for co-creation and integration of local knowledge in the project. 
  • During the design stage of the project it is important to map needs, concerns, and expectations of a project. Comprehensive mapping is very important and trainings and capacity buildings are vital as climate change in rural areas is something we should work on. Even at the monitoring stage it is important to have local actors involved.
  • It is important to learn from other projects’ challenges and where projects have not done so well. 
How do you build co-creation into project proposals to begin with?
  • Before the project begins, its great to have funder who understands the co-creation process and adaptation research funding interventions. As researchers it is important to provide capacity for funders to learn about changing landscapes, changing projects, and how things can be done better. It should be a learning process for everyone – be humble!
  • It is important to know the local context well as each local context is different. It can be a mistake to come with best practices from another context assuming these would work perfectly in a new setting. Approaches need to be adaptable and it is vital to engage in discussions with local communities.
  • Trying to improve the livelihoods of people is key, so it’s important to ask what language meetings should be held in to support co-creation and local knowledge programmes.
  • Ensure community members are engaged throughout a project are engaged in their requested/preferred language and meet in a comfortable environment e.g. researchers going to their communication spaces instead of holding workshops in official buildings or hotels.

What’s next?

To keep informed about upcoming meetings and events, please refer to our A@A Knowledge Network homepage.