WEBINAR: Lucia Scodanibbio and Georgina Cundill on Driving equitable systems change in a world of urgent transitions


On Monday, 12th of March 2023, the PECS working group on collaborative governance and management hosted another webinar: Michael Schoon invited Lucia Scodanibbio and Georgina Cundill to talk about ‘Driving equitable systems change in a world of urgent transitions.

Treating the need for urgent climate action as a technical problem that can be solved through more accurate information alone is a fallacy. We know enough to act on climate change, and yet action is slow or lacking entirely. In this session, the researchers explore the changing role of knowledge brokers in closing this knowledge to action gap. Knowledge brokering is not only about brokering science to decision makers. Many sources of knowledge (local, experience-based, indigenous, scientific) are needed. The work of the knowledge broker is to create inclusive, safe spaces for these different types of knowledge to be recognised and learned from. Knowledge is also just one component of any decision-making context – supporting climate action, and therefore the role of the knowledge broker, is also about navigating societal rules, fragmentation, politics, power asymmetries, as well as people’s values, aspirations, and world-views. Knowledge brokers have a crucial responsibility to contribute to shifting the discourse away from the linear production of (broad, untailored) scientific knowledge (e.g. on the climate problem) to understanding, navigating and acting in complex decision-making and implementation realities. In this sense, they will be increasingly required to broker relationships alongside information, be comfortable engaging with politics, cultural and governance issues, and challenge the very idea of whose knowledge and voice counts in climate action.

The researchers share lessons from 10 years of experimentation with knowledge brokering through the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN), and share details on a new initiative called Step Change, which aims to grow the number of organisations and individuals with the skills to do this crucial work.

A recent paper on the changing role knowledge brokers can be found here, and a summary with key ideas can be found here.

Lucia Scodanibbio is a Learning Advisor for the Climate and Development Knowledge Network at SouthSouthNorth, leading reflection processes to gather lessons learned around knowledge brokering and locally-led adaptation. Previously, Lucia coordinated the Adaptation at Scale in Semi-Arid Regions project at the University of Cape Town (UCT). She also worked in the United Nations Environment Programme regional office for Latin America and the Caribbean, coordinating a project on integrated coastal management in Central America; with the Africa team at the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands Secretariat in Switzerland; and in Mozambique, creating awareness on the impacts of hydropower dams and promoting integrated water resources management of the Zambezi River. She has an undergraduate degree in Ecology and Environmental Sciences from UCT, and a master’s in environmental planning from the University of British Columbia.

Georgina Cundill is a Senior Program Specialist in climate resilience at Canada’s International Development Research Centre, and is a research associate at Rhodes University in South Africa. Georgina works to connect evidence to action through climate change programming across Africa, South Asia and Latin America. She leads the Step Change program, a 5 year Canada-Netherlands partnership to accelerate locally-led adaptation in the global South, promoting gender equality and social inclusion, ecosystem-based adaptation, adaptation finance and capacity building. Georgina is the co-chair of the science committee for Adaptation Futures 2023 in Montreal, and sits on the international advisory board for Bangladesh’s action plan on climate-induced displacement.

You can listen to the recording of the webinar here.

All other past webinars hosted on behalf of the PECS Collaborative Working Group are available here.

Text by Michael Schoon/ Upload by Johanna Hofmann