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Learning to act on what we know

  • Published at 05:48 pm January 6th, 2017
  • Last updated at 06:14 pm January 6th, 2017
Learning to act on what we know

How do we translate research into action?

Even if we know everything there is to know about climate change (which obviously we don’t), much of that knowledge will go to waste unless it informs policy-makers and practitioners working on the ground.

At its core, this is what the Gobeshona program is all about: An attempt to not only bring together and improve climate change research in Bangladesh, but also feed that research into policy and action as soon as possible.

Gobeshona is essentially a knowledge-sharing platform. It consists of a consortium of stake-holder organisations in Bangladesh, including public and private universities, research institutes (both national and international) and NGOs. The platform has a website (www.gobeshona.net) that has databased 1,746 publications on climate change and Bangladesh to date, and includes information on the program’s monthly seminars.

The program also organises a year-long program for young researchers to train them on how to publish their work in international peer-reviewed journals.

However, the biggest Gobeshona event by far is the annual conference, where researchers, practitioners, and policy-makers come directly face-to-face to figure out the best way to tackle climate change.

The first conference occurred in January 2015; the second a year later in 2016; and the third will be starting tomorrow, from the January 8 to 11 at the Independent University, Bangladesh in Dhaka.

In the first three days of the conference, several hundred academics and researchers from various disciplines present their latest findings on climate change-related issues on Bangladesh.

On the last day of the conference, we facilitate a policy dialogue between decision-makers in government and the researchers themselves.

The reason the event goes so well, or has so in the past, is the threat of continuity from year to year. To fully understand the progression of the Gobeshona conference and the international interest it has generated, especially among other LDCs, we need to understand how the first conferences worked.

This is because the conference creates a feedback loop between policy-makers and researchers. On the one hand, researchers can inform policy-makers on the latest climate change knowledge; and on the other, because of Gobeshona, policy-makers can ask for topics they need researched. In other words, climate change research under Gobeshona becomes demand driven and the topics of each conference are informed by the conference prior to it.

So if policy-makers want to address salinity, for instance, they can ask researchers to determine to what extent salinity is caused by climate change, how much of the coastal area it affects, and what the best approaches to alleviate it may be.

Even if we know everything there is to know about climate change (which obviously we don’t), much of that knowledge will go to waste unless it informs policy-makers and practitioners working on the ground

This will then inform policy-makers’ decisions regarding how best to approach the problem.

Added to this, the conference provides opportunities to network, build bridges, mobilise ideas, and generally have a discourse on critical and relevant issues on climate change. This year, there will also be an additional communications day, hosted by BBC Media Action, called “Inspiring Resilience,” and a photo-voice exhibition on climate vulnerability among the urban youth of Dhaka.

While everyone may know that Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change, they should also know the country is actively addressing the problem.

The conference is a place where all the different people working on climate change in Bangladesh can come together and meet, discuss, and have new ideas.

At the heart of it, this is how we are going to survive and thrive in the era of climate change.

Ina F Islam is the deputy director of the International Center for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD). Mohammad Nazmul Chowdhury is a research officer at ICCCAD, and Tamanna Haque is the coordinator of Gobeshona at ICCCAD.