Keene, NH — In order for scientists to effectively research climate change, they must collaborate with and positively reinforce input from local stakeholders, according to a new study conducted by a team of researchers that includes Antioch University New England’s Dr. Sandra Pinel. Pinel is a research scholar at AUNE, a Fulbright NEXUS Scholar and a member of the leadership team at the Mountain Social Ecological Observatory Network (MtnSEON).
“The rules we follow to ensure that our climate change research and methods are sound were developed for scientists and view the role of community stakeholders as participants for research, rather than as researchers,” Pinel said. “We suggest that we — as a scientific community — need to revise the rules to encourage a more collaborative model.”
The study, “Stakeholders in climate science: Beyond lip service” features research from AUNE’s Center of Climate Preparedness and Community Resilience. The Center has compiled, summarized, and shared the results of the road test with Federal agencies for a spring 2015 conference and report to inform ongoing efforts to improve usability of the Obama administration’s Climate Resilience Toolkit for decision makers and planners on the ground.
The study, which was funded by the Fulbright NEXUS Regional Scholars Program, was published in the November 13, 2015, issue of Science. It helps define the ways climate change research is conducted in partnership with local stakeholders – from farmers, fishermen and hunters, to people living in areas especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Along with collecting valuable information that will assist others with conducting their own research, the study brought to light the ethical considerations, lack of compensation and intellectual property policies and positive reinforcement that local partners receive for their work. Pinel also drew on the work of her PhD student mentee, Paulina Viteri, who is documenting her research with community members on the Andean bear and arguing for science co-production with stakeholders. Many concerns should be addressed by academic institution to develop public-private partnerships and research alignment with unaffiliated organizations.
Changing the rules of the game for collaborative climate change research
Pinel, along with colleagues from the University of Oregon, Universidad del Valle, Metropolitan Autonomous University and UC Berkley, catalogued 27 climate change research networks from across the globe to understand and categorize the many ways local stakeholders investigate the effects of climate change in their communities. The research team captured the information in an interactive database that also lists the various functions that local partners perform to illustrate the essential role collaboration must play in this important research discipline.
“Climate change is an issue that nobody can afford to ignore, so we must champion the contributions and do everything we can to encourage collaboration across geographic boundaries, cultural ethos, and academic disciplines,” Pinel said. “I’m honored be a part of research that will help bring together the many people working on arguably one of the most important social, environmental and economic issues of our age.”
Antioch University New England’s (AUNE) Center for Climate Preparedness and Community Resilience, with co-sponsorship from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regions 1-4, will convene the 2016 Local Solutions: Eastern Regional Climate Preparedness Conference April 4-6, in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Antioch University New England’s Center for Climate Change and Community Resilience convenes local practitioners bi-annually for peer learning and networking on adaptation strategies. To learn more about Antioch University’s Center for Climate Preparedness and Community Resilience visit www.communityresilience-center.org.