By Daisy Sibun and Fabio Valbuzzi
In the first official PROCOL event, the Institute for Global Prosperity (IGP) based at University College London (UCL) worked with the British Institute in Eastern Africa (BIEA) and the UCL Global Engagement Fund to organize a comprehensive workshop on public understanding of climate change. The workshop was organised in three different sessions.
Session 1 focused on public and citizen understanding of climate change among the population in certain parts of Eastern Africa, with panellists varying in terms of scope and focus of the work they presented. Citizen perceptions were elaborated on with focus on historic climate change related community responses as well as in relation to a study on “Digital Farmers” in Elgeyo-Marakwet, Kenya and in a country-wide youth-led initiative that deploys Virtual Reality to enhance understanding and awareness on climate change related impact.
The second session focused more on scientific and institutional understandings of climate change. Here, panellists discussed how the Kenyan media reports on the issue, what policy documents are currently in place in Kenya at national and sub-national level and what insights can be obtained from a climate change adaptation project in the area of Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania.
In session 3, panellists discussed the creation of multi- and transdisciplinary teams in efforts of raising awareness and ramping up communication relating to climate change. It was discussed how the public can get engaged with science, how a community in Kibera develops responses and adaptation to problems related to flooding and what our roles are in dealing with dissemination of knowledge about the cause-effect issues of climate change.
The workshop was very well attended and a successful start to PROCOL-led initiatives. It was fantastic to have so many people of diverse ages, experiences and knowledge gathered under the BIEA roof to confront a common agenda. We explored public perceptions of climate change from an inter-disciplinary perspective which gave a real richness to our analysis – not just within the speaker presentations but also amongst the questions and lively discussions that followed each session.
The workshop was filled with future-orientated discussions which felt equal parts well-informed about the multifarious concerns of climate change and optimistic for the future. This was a refreshing take from other forums that can operate at a more singular official level at the danger of excluding heterogeneous populations and perspectives from important debates. At the same time, the optimistic energy of the debate helped the dialogue from falling into the silos of determinist conclusions and helped us leave the room encouraged for the future.
We eagerly look forward to the bright future of PROCOL Kenya and continuing these lively, engaging and responsive discussions at upcoming events.