Case Study - Targeted Workshops and the Value of a Facilitator
Workshops that bring researchers together with targeted groups of stakeholders to explore specific, well-defined topics can help to ensure influential outcomes from the KE process. Dr Vicky Hayman of UKCIP explains how sessions arranged by the Adaptation and Resilience to a Changing Climate (ARCC) Co-ordination Network delivered tangible policy results, and how the use of an experienced facilitator proved crucial to success.
In the context of the Network’s overall mission to promote the design of urban systems that are more climate-resilient, overheating in buildings is a priority issue. A key aim has been to ensure that research findings are made available to Central Government Departments in a timely manner so that evolving policy in this particular area can take the very latest science into account. We organised two workshops to achieve this as effectively and efficiently as possible.
The first was a ‘broad brush’ event introducing the subject of overheating and timed to help Departments develop their initial climate change adaptation thinking in this field.
We invited around 35 people in all, drawn from six Departments and 10 ARCC research projects. Researchers responded directly to queries from the Departments, with many questions posted online prior to the event to inform participants. Delegates also split into five groups to focus on topics of particular interest to them.
A year later, a more tightly focused workshop with a smaller group of participants drilled right down into the figures coming out of the research to fully understand their policy implications.
We invited around 20 key policy-makers and researchers and, during the five-hour session, looked at outputs from five specific ARCC projects relating to overheating in cities and neighbourhoods. On this occasion, we deliberately set the workshop up to be much more interactive. Posters around the room summarising the main research findings provided an informative backdrop to the discussion.
The workshops proved to be an important conduit for the transfer of ARCC CN findings into the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment process and the Greater London Authority’s Climate Change Adaptation Strategy for London.
During the two workshops, UKCIP’s Director Roger Street acted as facilitator. The presence of a ‘knowledgeable independent’ who was respected both by policy-makers and by researchers and who could gently keep the meetings on track proved absolutely invaluable. Policy-makers tend to want black-and-white answers quickly, whereas researchers are generally more cautious in their use of results. The key, then, is to work closely with both groups to provide information that’s timely, clear and comprehensible for use in a policy-making context.
Being an effective facilitator is all about finding a common framework as a basis for discussion and moving everyone forward step by step at a speed they feel comfortable with.
Please also see the report attached below.