A critical systematization of the role of knowledge brokerage in climate change adaptation processes in Portugal

16:15 Tuesday 28 May

SS020 • OC120

Room S16


João Mourato (Portugal) 1; Alexandra Bussler (Portugal) 1; Claudia Santos (Portugal) 1

1 - ICS - Institute of Social Sciences - University of Lisbon

Climate change adaptation (CCA) policy is a fast developing field. At its core sit two key issues. On the one hand, there is a growing consensus that CCA should primarily take place at the local level. On the other, there is a deliberative shift towards more inclusive and cooperative forms of knowledge production, transfer and application in order to inform local-level adaptation policy processes and meet specific policy needs and expectations.

These new forms of joint knowledge production are defined by the cooperation between scientists, policymakers and other societal actors. This implies multiple challenges in terms of the identification of knowledge sources, their validation and output transfer into implementation policy instruments. Concepts such as knowledge integration, hybridization, and co-creation are becoming common jargon often without sufficient critical assessment of its implications.

Over the last decade, Portugal experienced a shift from an almost total absence of local-scale CCA policy initiatives to a booming adaptation policy environment. Although impressive in its absolute figures, the impact of the the growing number of joint knowledge production transdisciplinary research projects aiming at filling this policy void is still under-examined and the empirical literature on joint knowledge production between science and policy scarce.

In this paper we begin by reviewing the current literature on knowledge transfer in the context of CCA to map how the collaboration between science and policy is bridging the gap between these two realms while tapping into local knowledge and community inputs. Secondly, and building on a set of interviews to academics, community leaders and policy officials that took part in CCA-related knowledge transfer initiatives, we engage in a retrospective analysis of the identifiable dynamics of knowledge brokerage between the science, policy and community dominions and its determinant and hindering factors. In sum, this paper critically reviews the role of knowledge brokers in Portuguese CCA policy processes. We aim to (i) add empirical evidence from Portugal to the growing body of CCA knowledge transfer literature; and (ii) shed some light on the key facilitating mechanisms and key obstacles that such processes experience in the Portuguese CCA landscape.