THE ROYAL IRISH ACADEMY IS IRELAND'S LEADING BODY OF EXPERTS IN THE SCIENCES AND HUMANITIES

Watch: Better Together: knowledge co-production for a sustainable society

11 June 2021

Symposium exploring how the Irish research system can increase the impact of sustainability research through co-production of knowledge

The RIA symposium ‘Better together: knowledge co-production for a sustainable society’ on 3 June 2021 explored how the Irish research system  can respond to the demand for increased levels of collaboration and interaction amongst  scientists, stakeholders and funders to co-produce knowledge and increase its use in decision making and practice, to enable the necessary transition to a zero carbon and resource efficient society in the coming decades.

Overview of knowledge co-production for environmental and sustainability research in Ireland

Watch the symposium session featuring an overview of knowledge co-production for environmental and sustainability research in Ireland by Dr Paul Bolger, UCC, Global perspective on research co-production for improved sustainability outcomes by Dr Christian Pohl, ETH Zurich, and four case studies on co-production of knowledge with government or local government and non-governmental organisations.

Addressing societal challenges using transdisciplinary research: policy implication

Watch the presentation by Carthage Smith, OECD, on 'Addressing societal challenges using transdisciplinary research: policy implication,' followed by four case studies on sustainability research partnerships with industry and community.
 

Background

Across the world, universities, research organisations, funding agencies, professional societies and national academies are striving to contribute to the knowledge needed to transition to a sustainable society. It is, however, increasingly recognised that for many intractable sustainability challenges, such as climate change or environmental resource management, additional scientific knowledge about the underlying problem may not be a key limiting factor in the development of more sustainable outcomes. A central challenge is to link the production of knowledge with actions that both meet human needs and preserve the planet's life-support systems. Aligning knowledge and action for global sustainability is essential to the human future; research on the interface between science and decision making necessitates continual engagement to spanning the boundaries between stakeholders and researchers. Co-production of research and knowledge may offer a powerful approach for crossing the “applicability gap” between scientists, professionals and policy makers.

Co-production of knowledge for sustainability

Co-production is an important emerging idea in the theory and practice of knowledge and governance for global sustainability. Co-production refers to the design and implementation of scientific research in true partnership with end-users so that scientific outputs are as useful as possible to those groups making decisions based on scientific findings. Its key insight that knowledge and action are interdependent reshapes how we think about the solutions for global environmental challenges. It recognises that a greater focus is needed on knowledge that can be used to alter social behaviours and societal arrangements to improve sustainability outcomes.

In the last decade, co-production how-to guides, webpages, handbooks and peer-reviewed articles have proliferated, and many funding calls now include requirements for scientist–stakeholder engagement and co-production. This symposium will explore how the Irish research system can respond to the demand for increased levels of collaboration and interaction amongst scientists, stakeholders and funders to co-produce knowledge and increase its use in policy, decision-making and practice.

This event is very timely given the need for evidence-based knowledge to facilitate a transition to a climate resilient, biodiversity rich and climate neutral economy and society in Ireland. The need for a close engagement between the Irish research community and stakeholders involved in implementing this transition has never been greater.

This event was organised by the RIA Climate Change and Environmental Sciences Committee in collaboration with Future Earth Ireland.

Supported by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland and the Environmental Research Institute.

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