Making the research count – David Gritten
Researchers are good at complaining. One of the most common complaints that I hear in my area of work is that “policy makers never read our research findings”. The frustration is understandable – after investing a large amount of time, sometimes years, often the research leads to nothing but a paper in a journal and a couple of citations… if lucky. For example, the only use for my PhD book is that it makes a nice stand for my computer screen.
Too often research on forest governance, including REDD+, is not being effectively communicated to the policy makers – with the discussions going on behind an academic journal paywall, in an inaccessible format (e.g. language). Luckily a few funding organisations recognise the importance of linking research with those that need the information the most, including recommendations, that they provide. The Conflict and Cooperation in the Management of Climate Change (CCMCC) programme coordinated by NWO-WOTRO Science for Global Development is one good example.
The CCMCC funds seven projects covering many countries in the global south. One project, of which my organization RECOFTC – The Center for People and Forest is a part, is the Conflict and cooperation over REDD+ (CoCooR) project covering Mexico, Nepal and Vietnam. The project brings together researchers from these countries, together with researchers based in the UK (University of East Anglia), and practitioners working in the fields of REDD+ and forest governance (RECOFTC and Winrock International).
The design of the CoCooR project recognizes the opportunities, as well as the challenges of connecting researchers with policy makers through the inclusion of RECOFTC and Winrock to act as a bridge between the two sides, as well as supporting the project’s innovative communication strategy (e.g. photovoice).
RECOFTC’s role in the project includes using the findings from the research in developing a training manual and providing training courses on Transforming forest conflict in the context of climate change mitigation. Participants from the course held in 2017, for instance, included high level staff from the REDD Implementation Center of Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation, Nepal and a Government Officer from Vietnam Forest Protection and Development Fund (VNFF) under VNFOREST.
The work under CoCooR has also complemented RECOFTC’s research on ‘Conflict transformation through REDD+’. For example, we have been developing a conflict predictor and transformation checklist. This has been developed as a learning exercise in our trainings on conflict transformation, and applied to REDD+ and tested in the field with the support of CCMCC, and the findings shared through various fora including high level national workshops.
Based on the learning from the CoCooR project and the CCMCC program we strongly urge researchers, and those that fund the research to emphasise multi-stakeholder processes creating an environment for mutual learning, and ensure that investment is made in communicating the research – including sharing the findings in accessible forms (e.g. in national language). We need to focus on a different kind of impact (factor).
David Gritten – RECOFTC