The 7th edition of the Adaptation Futures 2023 (AF2023) conference took place 2-6 October in Montreal, Canada. The AF2023 conference was structured around four main goals, with 180 sessions, master classes, and field visits, and gathered more than 2000 members of the climate change adaptation community in-person and online, from over 120 countries.
The AGORA project organised a 90-minute interactive world café session focussing on ‘Good practice community and citizen engagement for accelerating a climate resilient future in Europe and beyond’. The session aimed to identify good practice in citizen and stakeholder engagement methodologies; increase peer-to-peer learning and knowledge exchange; provide a better understanding of evaluation opportunities; and spark ideas for the co-designed Digital Agora online space. During the session, participants discussed four key topic areas in the World Café:
- What are the opportunities, barriers and solutions to citizen and stakeholder engagement methodologies?
While many barriers and solutions were mentioned relating to engagement methodologies, some key barriers included lack of support from key stakeholders, lack of communication, lack of dissemination and awareness, limited availability of participants, and the project not being relevant to stakeholders so there was limited motivation. Participants highlighted potential solutions to these challenges including building relationships and trust with stakeholders, conducting early engagement which is sustained throughout the project, ensuring informed representation within the project, reducing existing silos, and providing positive stories as examples and inspiration.
- What impacts are citizens and stakeholders looking for in order to adapt to climate change?
In order to support citizens and stakeholder adaptation to climate change and climate change impacts, participants highlighted what impacts they are looking for out of the AGORA project. Participants raised a number of views based on their experiences of engaging stakeholders in climate change projects. This included the importance of creating and building networks, ensuring legacy over time for long-lasting impacts, fostering community-level empowerment, raising awareness about climate related hazards, promoting capacity building and training, fostering social inclusion of the city and creating attention to the shared space, and promoting social innovations.
To support the impact citizens and stakeholders are trying to make meaningful engagement, collaboration, and knowledge sharing it appeared useful to put in place an online knowledge and engagement platform that serves as an entry point to involve people based on their interests and needs. This online space should showcase the targeted communities and their situations, allowing them to make connections to their everyday lives and feel important and proud and to make it rewarding for them to engage over time. In order for the platform to make an impact it should be easily accessible and user friendly, provided in local languages, allow people to remain anonymous and to break barriers with technology to engage elderly people.
- How can you measure progress in citizen and stakeholder engagement?
As part of the AGORA project and evaluation framework is being created, and participants at the Adaptation Futures session discussed how to measure progress in citizen and stakeholder engagement. Key insights from the Adaptation Futures session, as well as additional workshops, suggest there will be four key impact areas for the evaluation framework, including: 1) Contextual adaptation knowledge and action that align with local needs, expectations, and values; 2) Citizens and other stakeholders have an equal opportunity to participate in the adaptation decision-making process; 3) Citizens, decision makers, researchers, and other stakeholders learn and co-produce knowledge; and 4) Citizens, decision makers, researchers, and other stakeholders build, develop, or improve their partnerships.
- What would this look like in practice in an online interactive platform?
The Adaptation Futures session helped to inform and design the Digital AGORA platform as participants suggested key features and content to be included. Some key priorities identified included having interactive visualisations e.g. maps and graphs, networking opportunities and user profiles, key information on funding sources, and community champions to encourage use of the platform.
All of the information and discussions throughout the Adaptation Futures session are being assessed and incorporated into the next steps for the AGORA project. If you are interested in sharing your insight on citizen engagement and the design of the Digital AGORA, please complete our short online survey or get in touch with us: Åsa Gerger Swartling (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Sukaina Bharwani (email@example.com).