Cascading knowledge through third party networks via open conferences
The ARCC network
The performance of UK buildings and infrastructure is critical to our national well-being and economic stability. To ensure policymakers and practitioners have the best available evidence on which to base decisions, EPSRC is investing heavily in research in these sectors to improve resilience. This includes research projects within the Adaptation and Resilience in a Changing Climate (ARCC) programme and the overarching network. By engaging researchers and a wide range of national, regional and local stakeholders, ARCC maximises and accelerates the use of research outputs to inform the development of a more sustainable built environment. ARCC conferences, designed to bring together researchers and stakeholders from across the sectors, are a key aspect to achieving this.
The BIOPICCC project
The Built Environment for Older People’s Care in Conditions of Climate Change (BIOPICCC) focused on the adaptation and resilience of health and social care systems for older people at the community scale. It sought to combine the knowledge of scientists, service providers and local government to inform the development of community resilience to extreme weather events and the impacts of future climate change. The BIOPICCC toolkit is a series of resources to help local authorities, partner organisations and neighbourhood and community groups with local level resilience planning. It was developed in close consultation with a number of stakeholders including Essex County Council.
ARCC conferences to enhance knowledge exchange
Regular ARCC conferences encourage participation by both researchers and stakeholders through showcasing scientific advances from across projects, highlighting potential implications for policy and practice and providing dedicated networking opportunities. The most recent conference Living with our Buildings and Infrastructure: Adapting for the Future, 2012 achieved this by including sessions focusing on cross-projects themes, encouraging project members to give joint presentations with stakeholders to emphasise the value of outputs, and by allowing sufficient time in both formal sessions and informal periods for further discussions.
BIOPICCC took the opportunity of giving several joint researcher / stakeholder presentations at the conference, including one with Essex County Council illustrating the toolkit in action. This reached an audience which included other local authorities keen to build on existing expertise as well as additional organisations with a remit to promote climate change adaptation at the regional level.
The value of ARCC conferences for cascading knowledge
Conferences bringing together researchers and stakeholders are just one way in which ARCC is working with projects and end users to deliver impact. They have been used to establish new relationships, as well as strengthen existing ones. By attending, Sustainability East identified the BREC initiative both as a presentation for a forthcoming meeting of its own East of England Climate Change Adaptation Network and as a specific case study it wanted to publish. The Environment Agency then took up this case study and promoted it through Climate Week 2013.
Following the conference, the Greater London Authority and West Sussex Council requested information about BREC to integrate into their own projects and business plans. And the Local Government Association has also included a summary of BREC in their 2013 report on Local Climate Actions: supporting growth, saving money and safeguarding communities.
For the future
ARCC conferences emphasise the co-production of outputs by researchers and stakeholders and the importance of allowing sufficient time for face-to-face discussions. They are a valuable approach for both broadening and deepening communication, encouraging further engagement and facilitating mutually beneficial links way beyond the network. Experiences and recommendations are being shared with other programmes and networks, and future events will build on lessons learnt here.
- Further information on BIOPICCC project