Learning to tackle climate change: innovative approaches to knowledge sharing and co-production in highly dispersed development organisations


  • Tom Tanner
  • Carl Jackson
  • Fran Seballos
  • Jane Clark


social learning, climate change, organisational change, knowledge sharing


Tackling climate change in the context of development requires particular attention to reflection and learning. In part this is because of the new sources of additional uncertainty and cross-sectoral complexity that it introduces, but also because of the limited experience of what works and what doesn?t. This poses significant challenges for many development organisations, which tend to function on the basis of bureaucratic principles of accountability and a cycle of planning, implementation, impact and evaluation. This paper presents findings and reflections from a climate change learning programme with the UK Department for International Development. The programme combined external facilitation with staff knowledge exchange, reflection and problem solving to co-produce knowledge on climate change and development rather than following a set of prescribed technical solutions. We argue from this experience that knowledge management for tackling climate change requires much greater use of explicitly collaborative and improvisational learning approaches, rather than conventional supply-driven knowledge platforms. While there remains space for orthodox technical responses, such learning approaches are better able to situate the climate change and development problem within the diverse range of personal, organisational and problem contexts in which it is encountered.