IDS Knowledge Exchange Event on learning for climate and development policy

Marc Schut participated in a Knowledge Exchange event that was held at the Institute for Development Studies (IDS) in Brighton on 5 and 6 March 2013. The knowledge exchange attracted a variety of participants, representing international development organisations, universities and CGIAR agricultural research institutes.

The knowledge exchange was organised around the theme of “learning for climate and development policy”. Marc participated in a workgroup on the role of ‘knowledge brokers’ in facilitating learning for development.

Some (personal) lessons learned on the theme are:

  • Knowledge brokerage can include: knowledge production together with stakeholders, reconciling knowledge demands and supply, knowledge translation, facilitating learning, mediation, foster institutional change, lobby, matchmaking, networking, fundraise, etc.
  • There are a lot of different perceptions on what knowledge brokerage is or should be. There is a need to clarify/ translate the concept in terms of its actual mandate, activities and impact.
  • Knowledge brokerage is not neutral. It affects and is affected by stakeholder dynamics. A legitimate question is therefore: Are knowledge brokers stakeholders in problem solving processes?
  • The success of knowledge brokerage must be viewed from both a process-perspective (how did knowledge brokerage influence the decision-making process) as well as for an outcome-perspective (what did it lead to in terms of the type of solution agreed upon). In that way, there can be more space for learning from failure, which is currently seen as ‘unfeasible’ in the light of donor and incentive structures.
  • Rather than managing multi-stakeholder processes, there should be more emphasis on contributing to an enabling environment for multi-stakeholder collaboration. This requires flexibility and context-sensitivity from the side of the knowledge broker and the institution in which the knowledge broker is embedded.

The event was inspiring and Marc committed himself to contributing to a broader reflection on the functions of innovation brokerage in learning for development, policy and innovation processes.

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