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EcoAdapt Working Paper Series N3: Generation of shared knowledge and joint learning on water governance and climate change adaptation

Prins K., Cáu Cattán A., Azcarrúnz N., Leclerc G.. 2014. s.l. : Projet Eco Adapt, 53 p..

EcoAdapt ( is an ambitious, complex and demanding action-research project about water security in a context of climate change. The issues the project deals with are also complex and demanding. A central challenge is how to get the investigators, the project partner Model Forest local teams and the relevant local actors in the territories on the same page. That is why joint knowledge development and shared learning from different sources and ways of knowing is of such strategic importance in EcoAdapt. Moreover, a viable and sustainable community based response to environmental and climatic challenges requires a critical mass of motivated, informed and concerted local actors. To make good headway in this direction, an arduous but dynamic process has been set into motion resulting in a growing commitment and capacity building among the local actors in the three EcoAdapt territories. The project's mini and synthesis workshops were building- and stepping-stones in a continuous path of joint learning and capacity development. In the former events the information captured in the base line study was discussed with the locals actors, while in the second ones, the interest aroused was capitalized upon to form the change agents groups (an essential aspect of the EcoAdapt strategy) and to respond to the demand of more precise and accessible information, by means of a series of field learning activities. This had some promising outcomes such as contributing to a common interest and growing understanding of water as a central watershed ecosystem; widening of the horizon and view towards watershed and landscape management; strengthening of community drinking water systems with regards to its hardware and software (physical infrastructure, local management and governance); growing cooperation among urban and rural groups or between civil society and policy makers around water issues; creating a link between the legal framework and policy making and the processes on the ground. A spiral of learning took place. As people satisfy their curiosity and initial interest they want to know more and understand better, and they become even more investigative as the activity gets geared towards action and towards helping them achieve their needs and aspirations. Learning does not stop and is clearly evolving in the project with regards to aims, content and methods. This proves to be entirely in line with one of the working hypothesis of the project and also with constructivist theories such as meaningful learning. It has been fundamental and very instrumental to induce the formation of multi actor platforms of change agents in the three territories, through which the field learning activities are organized. These new instances are pivotal in the EcoAdapt learning and organization process by the local project partners: due to a broad representation of local groups and institutions, these platforms get grounded and obtain a growing legitimacy in the territory; they fill a real demand by tackling felt needs for local development around water issues and capitalizing human, institutional and financial opportunities and resources; information is spread and debated; trust and chemistry is built and a common language and vision developed; by lowering barriers between groups and institutions transaction costs are lowered and opportunities are taken advantage of to decrease operational costs and achieve higher effectiveness in ongoing or initial action around water issues and management. Hence it is also very cost effective in economic terms. Climate change adaptation is a variant of risk management to secure water, food and other means of living. Management of climate risks is a millenarian old need and practice, but recent climate change tendencies give it a whole new dimension. Traditional knowledge and practice is a good springboard to climate change adaptation, but new science based information and views must be inserted in what people alre...

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