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Communications on Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss with Local Populations: Exploring Best-practices and Postcolonial Moments in Eight Case Studies from across the Globe

Discussion Papers 1945, 51 S.

Dawud Ansari, Regine Schönenberg, Melissa Abud, Laura Becerra, Anne Cristina de la Vega-Leinert, Nigel Dudley, Michael Dunlop, Carolina Figueroa, Oscar Guevara, Philipp Hauser, Hannes Hobbie, Mostafa A. R. Hossain, Jean Hugé, Luc Janssens de Bisthoven, Hilde Keunen, Claudia Munera-Roldan, Jan Petzold, Anne-Julie Rochette, Matthew Schmidt, Charlotte Schumann, Sayanti Sengupta, Susanne Stoll-Kleemann, Lorrae van Kerkhoff, Maarten P. M. Vanhove, Carina Wyborn


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Climate change and biodiversity loss trigger policies worldwide, many of which target or impact local communities. Although research, international development, and policy implementation (and, thus, success in fighting both threats) require thoughtful consideration and communication of the underlying concepts, field work encounters a cascade of tangible barriers. Technoscientific representations of quantifiable causes and effects often remain alien to local perspectives, and failure to involve communities constantly and genuinely creates gaps that may ultimately prevent research and policy success. Therefore, in this article, we present the results of a collective self-assessment exercise for a panel of eight case studies (covering four continents) of communications between project teams and local communities within the context of climate change or biodiversity loss. Our analysis develops eight indicators of good stakeholder communication, which we construct from the literature, in addition to Verran (2002) 's concept of postcolonial moments as a communicative utopia. Our study contributes to the (analytical) understanding of such communications, while also providing tangible insights for field work and policy recommendations. We demonstrate that applying our indicators can foster a more successful communication, although we find an apparent divergence between timing, complexity, and (introspective) effort of the project teams. While three case studies qualify for postcolonial moments, our findings show that especially the scrutiny of power relations and genuine knowledge co-production are still rare. We verify the potency of various instruments for deconstructing science; however, we also show that their sophistication cannot substitute other crucial factors. Instead, simple deconstruction efforts may suffice, while trust-building, proper time management, and an advanced awareness of the scientists are crucial. Lastly, we consider that reforming rigid and inadequate funding policies will help overcome significant barriers and improve the work in and with local communities.

JEL-Classification: Q54;Q56;Q57;F54;R11
Keywords: transdisciplinary communication, climate change, biodiversity loss, co-production, postcolonial moments, local communities
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