Ecology and Society 15(2): 11 http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol15/iss2/art11/latest emphasis on “climate proofing” implicitly that arises from these insights and debates is how toassumes that, once appropriate adaptation measures facilitate learning, information exchange, reflection,(typically technological in nature) are identified and innovation, and anticipation, all of which are keyimplemented, development policies, plans, and elements in the practical reality of the adaptationpractices can be shielded against adverse climate process.impacts (Brooks and Grist 2008). Such a projectfocus appears as a linear, largely self-limitingtrajectory that favors readily identifiable and Addressing the void in the existing learningdiscrete adaptation actions, both anticipatory and toolboxreactive (before and after a shock), often presentedin lists or inventories. More problematically, this This question brings us to the other and potentiallyview obscures the very processes that shape more problematic challenge in adaptation researchadaptation and resilient livelihoods. and practice: our existing methodological toolbox is sparsely equipped to facilitate and sustain suchRecent studies and project initiatives in some adaptive and anticipatory learning in the face ofAfrican and other developing countries, however, complex risks and uncertainties; in other words,start to emphasize the process notion within learning about the future before impacts areadaptation. For instance, a synthesis of early apparent. Much progress has been made in theadaptation projects in the Global South highlights North, particularly in Europe and Canada, to designthe evolving nature of adaptation, including learning approaches, decision scenarios, andlearning about risks, evaluating response options, adaptation portfolios (Cohen et al. 2006, Kok et al.and creating the right conditions for adaptive action 2007, Jäger et al. 2008, Hulme et al. 2009) although(Leary et al. 2008). McGray et al. (2007) also stress it remains contested whether existing tools andthe significance of decision making for adaptation models are sufficient for evaluating long timeefforts that evolve and improve with newly frames, cascading levels of uncertainty andemerging conditions and information. They surprises, and potentially catastrophic changes inspecifically refer to processes of “learning as we the climate system (Tompkins et al. 2008). Ingo,” checking and rectifying possible maladaptation, contrast, in most parts of the Global South, butexchanging information, and making trade-offs particularly in Africa (with the likely exception ofbased on public values. Along the same lines, South Africa), access to information, knowledgeOsbahr (2007) views successful adaptation as a networks, and climate learning tools that buildlearned process in which appropriate communication resilience into people’s livelihoods, institutions, andchannels constitute a crucial part. “The goal,” as ecosystems remain scarce, and especially so at thestated by T. Downing (unpublished manuscript), “is community level.not to be well adapted but to adapt well.” There are multiple reasons for this lacuna. From anContrary to “hard” technological and infrastructural international policy perspective, climate-relatedresponse options, this dynamic notion of adaptation risks and vulnerabilities in drylands and otherpromotes building resilience to enhance adaptive tropical ecosystems, many of which are in Africa,capacity now, rather than targeting adaptation in the have received much less emphasis than colder areas,future. Adaptive capacity, particularly from a small island states, and indigenous communitiessystems perspective, has been described as the portrayed as exceptionally unique and threatenedability to learn from mistakes (Adger 2003), to (Liverman 2008). From the angle of sciencegenerate experience of dealing with change (Berkes communication, research advances remain largelyet al. 2003), and the capability for innovation inaccessible to decision makers. Seely et al. (2008),(Armitage 2005). Fabricius et al. (2007) highlight with reference to southern Africa, assess the lack oflearning, anticipating, and forecasting through integration and understanding of climate scienceknowledge sharing and responding. Under climate into policy and practice, which hinders capacitychange, enhancing adaptive capacity implies paying building and decision making under uncertainty.explicit attention to learning about past, present, and Hellmuth et al. (2007:9), in a gap analysis on thefuture climate threats, accumulated memory of use and application of climate information in Africa,adaptive strategies, and anticipatory action to point toward “inadequate supply of climate servicesprepare for surprises and discontinuities in the ... for development decisions at all levels.” Asclimate systems (Nelson et al. 2007). The question argued by Twomlow et al. (2008), even among
Ecology and Society 15(2): 11 http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol15/iss2/art11/African researchers and extension services, the design of resilient livelihood pathways and theunderstanding of climate processes, driving forces, practicalities of adaptive capacity an exceedinglyand meaningful coping and adaptive strategies daunting task.remains insufficient. Practitioners and communitiesencounter major obstacles to concrete adaptation Conceptually and methodologically, the linksplanning; these include lack of awareness, between adaptation and (sustainable) developmentknowledge, and access to forecasts in addition to are well understood (Scoones 1998, Bebbingtonsparse communication platforms and often 1999, Mortimore and Adams 1999, Ellis 2000,unintelligible climate jargon (Enne and Yeroanni McGray et al. 2007). Yet, as argued by Lemos et al.2007, Leary et al. 2008). (2007), a more fruitful engagement between the two communities is needed to better build adaptiveMost worrisome is the absence of learning tools that capacity under the unique risks and stresses relatedexplicitly encourage adaptation processes, including to climate change. Risk is seen here as “uncertainexperimentation and innovation, in order to consequences, and in particular exposure toembrace complex risks and uncertainties. Although potentially unfavorable circumstances, or thethe Nairobi Work Programme, adopted under the possibility of incurring nontrivial loss” (Smith et al.UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2000). People’s ability to respond to risks is2007, specifically emphasizes information, tools, typically determined by a series of dynamicand communication for adaptation planning and livelihood decisions that depend on the opportunitypractice in developing countries, adaptive and set of household asset endowments and theanticipatory learning remains poorly understood. allocation of these assets to generate benefits andThis is the case despite numerous researchers pursue a meaningful life (Davies 1996, Kelly andarguing for collaborative, iterative, self-organizing Adger 2000, Barrett et al. 2001, Little et al. 2001,processes of learning-by-doing to enhance adaptive Ellis 2003; Little et al., unpublished manuscript).capacity and facilitate the role of boundaryorganizations for effective translation and diffusion These complex livelihood-vulnerability contexts(e.g., Füssel and Klein 2006, van Aalst et al. 2008). make novel experiments—crucial for successfulSuch a gap is particularly problematic for countries adaptation and resilient pathways—a highly riskywhere climatic uncertainties are high and impacts undertaking in which mistakes and failure may wellare likely to compound existing vulnerabilities with mean a downward spiral from transitory to chronicserious implications for development and poverty poverty (persistent deprivation). As shown forreduction. pastoralist communities in eastern Africa, poor households, in a rational attempt to manage risk, often trap themselves in chronic poverty through theLearning challenges in the context of complex allocation of asset portfolios that are unproductivelivelihood-vulnerability risks and insufficient to lift them beyond a critical poverty threshold (Barrett and McPeak 2004, Barrett 2010;Our focus on Africa is deliberate as it is the continent Little et al., unpublished manuscript). Clearly,where the “adaptation deficit” (Osbahr et al. 2007) poverty dynamics, inequalities and power—the lack of explicit integration of livelihood differentials, limits to adaptive strategies, and latentadaptation to climate change and broader adaptive capacity all shape adaptation processes anddevelopment issues—has been most evident. In options (Osbahr 2007). Our attempt to explorecontrast to vulnerable and disadvantaged places and spaces for anticipatory learning is situated withinpopulations in the North as well as hazard-specific these complex vulnerability-livelihood risks andvulnerabilities to hurricanes, tsunamis, heat waves, interactions embedded within a wider developmentand wildfires, Africa’s vulnerability is tightly context.coupled with structural problems of chronicpoverty, underdevelopment, food and livelihood We propose a methodological approach thatinsecurity, and socioeconomic and political emphasizes a multi-faceted, iterative way ofinequality. The difference between the developing analyzing and learning about changes andworld and affluent countries lies in the magnitude uncertainties to manage for resilience rather thanand even more so the duration of poverty (Barrett learning by shock. Viewing adaptation as aand McPeak 2004). These distinct dimensions of socioinstitutional process that involves cycles ofday-to-day risks and structural poverty make the anticipation and responses to a variety of stressors
Ecology and Society 15(2): 11 http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol15/iss2/art11/is radically different from considering adaptation as Learning within the resilience frameworkan adjustment to predicted future climatic impactsor residual damage associated with these impacts. The capacity for learning and experimentation hasBy focusing explicitly on learning, reflection, and long been understood as an integral part of resilienceforward-looking decision making about feasible, thinking. For instance, Davidson-Hunt and Berkessustainable, and fair adaptation choices under (2003) stress learning to live with change andvarious possible future climate realities, we portray uncertainty and combining different types ofvulnerable populations in Africa as active agents of knowledge as two key principles for buildingchange with particular skills, knowledges, and adaptive capacity in social–ecological systems. Avisions, rather than passive victims. resilience perspective on adaptation emphasizes learning, self-organization, and flexibility as crucial ingredients for navigating complex feedbacks,LEARNING PROCESSES TO MANAGE thresholds, and system changes (Berkes et al. 2003).FOR RESILIENCE: FROM THEORY TO Social–ecological resilience, also in the context ofPRACTICE climate change, highlights innovation and the capacity to learn and transform (Folke 2006). WeForward-looking learning and decision-support focus on learning processes with special referencetools in the face of climatic and other complex to adaptive cycles and managing for resilience.changes that involve high uncertainty are neededmore than ever. The challenge is to assess how and Much of the current understanding of resilience andwhen people learn to manage change, absorb the embedded conception of learning expands onshocks, take advantage of new opportunities, adjust, Holling’s (1973, 1986) original notion of the term,or completely alter their lives and livelihoods. This which focuses on the maintenance of structure andsection examines two theoretical frameworks— functioning of complex systems that undergoresilience thinking and action research/learning disturbance. In his heuristic model of complex(AR/AL)—to tease out key learning elements from adaptive cycles, Holling (1986, 2004) suggestsa dynamic systems perspective that may bolster distinct types of learning: incremental front-loopadaptation as a process. The end of the section learning, spasmodic or profound back-loopexamines the role of critical reflection, learning learning, and transformational learning that can leadspaces, and power. to innovative processes with high potential for transformability. Within nested cross-level andThe rationale for this comparison is threefold: (a) cross-scale system dynamics where transformationsThere is an urgent need to bring together resilience happen, often unpredictably and abruptlyand development theories (including action theory) (Gunderson and Holling 2002), learning canand their mutual concerns for self-organization, essentially take on two forms: (1) small and fastbuffering against shocks, and enhancing adaptive cycles “revolt” and affect larger and slower cycles;capacity to better inform practice and more an example is successful local innovations thatexplicitly take into account issues of equity and create opportunities for change at regional orpower (Osbahr et al. 2007). (b) Although resilience international levels; (2) larger and slower cycles,thinking and AR/AL have substantially built off through system “memory,” shape dynamics at othereach other, similarities with respect to learning scales by drawing upon accumulated knowledgeprocesses have never been consciously made and potential for renewal or reorganization (Fig. 1).explicit. Our aim is to explore interesting parallelsby illustrating when and how cyclical (loop) Recently, learning has been a prominent componentlearning occurs. (c) Given the urgency and the scale in discussions on managing for resilience. Thisof the problematic of managing for resilience under notion builds on Walker et al.’s (2002) idea ofclimatic uncertainty, particularly among the poor, resilience management in which the main intent iswe draw upon key facets of iterative learning and to prevent social–ecological systems from slidingreflection that may facilitate anticipation and into undesirable states. Learning, memory,experimentation in practice. creativity, and the need to move forward in spite of imperfect knowledge and vast uncertainties are imperative to avoid unfavorable thresholds. Today’s notion of managing for resilience entails both building and eroding resilience, the latter in the
Ecology and Society 15(2): 11 http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol15/iss2/art11/Fig. 1. Nested adaptive cycles (Folke 2006, after Gunderson and Holling 2002)case of adverse system configurations (Lebel et al. poverty contexts is by no means a straightforward2006). Learning to cope with non-linearities and exercise. It involves fundamental methodologicalother types of uncertainties and surprises as well as and ethical decisions such as: Managing resilienceflexible experiments for innovation are seen as key for whom? When to change from adaptation toelements in this process. Most importantly, learning transformation? How to shift from post hoc analysesand the willingness to experiment play a central role to anticipatory thinking? Is continuing buildingfor system transformation. Olsson et al. (2006) adaptive capacity in low-income/high-vulnerabilitydescribe transformative capacity as the ability to environments a waste of time? Despite thesecreate a radically new system when adaptation and challenges, a resilience lens highlights learning asadjustments are no longer possible or desirable and part of dynamic and flexible capacities that arethe existing system becomes untenable. To prepare critical when dealing with irreducible uncertainties.for change, take advantage of windows of It allows a glimpse into how anticipation for climateopportunity, and successfully navigate transitions, change adaptation may shape resilient livelihoodsocial actors ought to be aware of a problem, build pathways in practice. The next section providesknowledge, diversify their ideas, reflect, communicate, useful input from action research and learning.develop a shared vision, and act.Albeit methodologically intriguing, managing forresilience under climatic uncertainties and in high
Ecology and Society 15(2): 11 http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol15/iss2/art11/Anticipatory learning within (participatory) Levin 1998, Reason and Bradbury 2001). Its aim isaction research and action learning to further reciprocal and transformational learning that results in future-oriented practical actionAnticipatory or forward-looking learning is the key (McTaggert 1991, Chandler and Torbert 2003).pillar of an approach known as anticipatory actionlearning (AAL), which falls under the larger Although AR rejects restricting itself to oneumbrella of action learning (AL), a field of inquiry theoretical perspective (Reason and Bradburyand practice that has converged with action research 2001), “action science” is seen as a grounding(AR) and future studies (Ramos 2006a). It is a theory/practice. The key distinguishing features orcollaborative, democratic, and heuristic-reflexive dimensions of action science, described byprocess that links iterative questioning, anticipation, Friedman (2001) and Reason and Torbert (2001),learning, and creation with the ultimate purpose of drawing upon Argyris and Schön (1974, 1978),crafting a different world (Stevenson 2002, Heron (1992), and Torbert (1983, 1991), are theInayatullah 2002, 2006, Ramos 2006a). Kelleher following five: (a) creation of communities of(2005:85, 87) describes AAL as a “process of co- inquiry where “theories of/in practice” are built andcreating the future” based on a “theory of tested for learning; (b) centrality of participation;participative human agency.” As core values, she (c) experiential grounding, through criticalstresses questioning of assumptions through subjectivity, multiple ways of knowing, andreflection, creativity, systems thinking, and territories of experience; (d) normative, analogical,emergence of novel patterns through self- and implementable theory that seeks surprise andorganization. Anticipatory action learning constitutes conditions for change; and (e) creation ofa process of foresight that is inherently diachronous; alternatives to the status quo through experimentationthe outcomes emerge during the practice and are and transformation.negotiated by those who participate, resulting infutures that are constantly revisited through The quintessential characteristic of these strands ofenvisioning, backcasting, experimenting, and action and learning schools is their focus onreflection (Stevenson 2002, 2006, Ramos 2006b). iterative, cyclical learning. Iterative cycles ofAs AAL does not subscribe to any particular acting, reflecting, and determining “windows” for(critical) theory, we review its main theoretical and solving emergent questions allow researchers andmethodological origins and underpinnings, with participants alike to develop and test theoriesparticular attention to action research. through action and facilitate learning about complex situations. There are numerous, partially overlappingAlthough AL has its roots in organizational learning manifestations of this cyclical type of learning. Theyand leadership development going back to Reginald include Lewin’s (1946) series of spirals of steps inRevans in the 1940s, AR—including participatory AR, as well as various forms of single, double, andaction research—stems from largely academic and triple feedback and loop learning (e.g., Kolb anddevelopment circles. It traces its origin to Kurt Fry 1975, Argyris and Schön 1974, 1978, 1996,Lewin’s work in social psychology from the early Keen et al. 2005, List 2006, Armitage et al. 2008).1900s. Later, AR gained ground as a critique of Single-loop learning allows correcting errors orpositivist research approaches in the social sciences improving the outcomes in standard managementand mirrored academic disenchantment with the practices, for instance with respect to croppinglack of action and concrete answers to persistent techniques. Double-loop learning, by contrast,social and environmental problems resulting from enables actors to learn about learning and questionpoststructuralist thought (Greenwood and Levin the assumptions behind inquiry, which enables1998, Pain 2003, Kindon 2005). Action research can shifts in understanding and behavior, whereasbe described as a theory of and an approach to triple-loop learning can trigger changes inlearning with a well-defined set of principles or underlying norms and governance structures.dimensions of inquiry, embedded in a “meta- Iterative cycles of single-, double-, and triple-loopmethodology” (Reason and Torbert 2001, Dick feedback also enhance the sophistication and2002). Grounded in a participatory worldview, it effectiveness of the four AR territories (vision,explores the interaction of power relations across strategy, action, and outcomes) as depicted in themultiple scales and with particular emphasis on space–time–voice dimensions of transformationalrepresenting or giving voice to the marginalized science (Torbert 1983, 1991, Chandler and Torbert(Maguire 1987, Park et al. 1993, Greenwood and 2003) (Fig. 2).
Ecology and Society 15(2): 11 http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol15/iss2/art11/These theoretical and methodological dimensions Although AR/AL processes can build the capacityof AR/AL stress two other key elements: the of participants to challenge the underlying causeselement of reflection and that of anticipation. of their marginalization and vulnerability throughCritical reflection constitutes the backbone of an iterative and collective process of action-iterative (loop) learning. Kolb and Fry (1975), for reflection, the spatiality of these processes remainsinstance, argue that possibilities for “double-loop under-researched. In the context of climate changelearning” emerge through reflection on experiences adaptation, Thomas and Twyman (2005:121) called(what works and why) (Fig. 3). Such for the “need to create space, and the right kind oftransformational learning happens at decisive nodes space, and to facilitate appropriate innovative andof reflection as they are likely to trigger new loops creative adaptation.” But what is the right kind ofof learning, critical engagement, and the willingness learning space that encourages anticipatory learningto take risks (Fig. 4). They embody possibilities for and how do we build it?unexpected connections and surprise. The role ofanticipation in this learning process is to focus We argue that such spaces need to have both anexplicitly on possible futures by giving meaning to abstract and a material dimension. Kesby (2005)images, trends, and memory that can be views such learning spaces as arenas in whichqualitatively envisioned, tested, and revisited people assess their own knowledge and its limits,(Inayatullah 2006). renegotiate behavior, and improve communication. Empowerment and positive transformations in people’s lives require “temporary time–space arenas” (Kesby 2005:2055). Within these arenas,Loop learning in practice: learning spaces and empowered agency—the ability to act and changepower reality—can be reproduced, sustained, and scaled up within everyday spaces to facilitateNumerous practical applications of loop learning transformation, something Kesby (2005:2039) callsprocesses exist that build upon resilience theory and “rehearsing for reality.” Yet, such rehearsal requiresAR/AL, with prominent examples in the field of sufficient ontological depth (Inayatullah 2006) toadaptive (co-) management (e.g., Olsson et al. 2004, challenge and transform social reality. In otherLebel et al. 2005, Armitage et al. 2007). Berkes words, it is not sufficient to introduce small-scale(2009), among others, stresses the role co- revolts, perturbations, and learning probes in oneproduction of knowledge, power sharing, joint sub-loop of the system (Lynam et al. 2002,problem solving, bridging organizations, and Karkkainen 2006) if they cannot be sustained to alterreflection play. The adaptive facet of co- awareness and behavior at larger scales.management is captured in the incremental anditerative learning-by-doing process where system However, such arenas for iterative, anticipatory, andunderstanding, action, and evaluation are updated transformative learning and reflection are rarelyand refined every time new information is available. neatly structured. They require high creativity and flexibility, adjustments by “muddling through,” andWe identify some overlapping key elements of spontaneous constellations of cooperation, particularlyresilience theory and AR/AL, distill implications in weak, unstable, and messy institutional andfor learning, and indicate how they may apply to political settings (Wollenberg et al. 2007). It mayclimate change adaptation in practice (Table 1). be through this “messy” approach, mediated bySeveral of these reflect recent lessons from adaptive bridging/boundary organizations, that windows ofmanagement and adaptation under climate change, opportunity for experimentation and action can befor instance in the European ADAM Project, detected and utilized. Referring specifically tohighlighting the need for processes that connect adaptation, Pelling and High (2005) advocate forinquiry with experimentation and reflection to the opening of informal spaces (places of “boundedovercome incomplete knowledge about driving instability” or shadow systems/networks) outside offorces and uncertainties (Lonsdale 2009a). Two but connected to formal institutions to allow formain questions merit further attention: (a) how can novelty to emerge out of free experimentation,spaces for learning be created?, and (b) how to deal learning, and reflection.with power inequalities?
Ecology and Society 15(2): 11 http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol15/iss2/art11/Fig. 2. The span of research/practice with four territories of experience (Chandler and Torbert 2003).Finally, we do not want to suggest that such learning benefits, the typology of AR practices, as presentedspaces are inherently harmonious. Much has been by Reason and Torbert (2001), seems particularlysaid about the “tyranny” of participation and useful. First-person research allows the researcherparticipatory spaces of power and domination (e.g., to learn through self-reflexive action and criticalLefebvre 1991, Cooke and Kothari 2001). Yet, subjectivity. Second-person research pursuesinequalities of power simply cannot be avoided. cooperative inquiry and a consensus-seekingAcknowledging and negotiating power and process for and with research partners. Third-personconflicts need to be seen as integral parts of learning research strives for inquiry that involves widerprocesses. This should not distract from the fact that learning communities through networks ofnot all participants in these time–space arenas may organizations. In practice, it is through thebenefit equally. Osbahr (2007), for instance, integration of all three levels that learning anddescribes adaptation and transformation of transformation are most likely to be achievedlivelihood strategies as a competitive process that (Bradbury and Reason 2001).produces winners and losers. To engage with thedeeply ethical question of who learns and who
Ecology and Society 15(2): 11 http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol15/iss2/art11/Fig. 3. Double-loop learning (Brockbank and McGill 1998).ANTICIPATORY LEARNING AND through an iterative process of action-reflectionMANAGING FOR RESILIENCE UNDER (Fig. 5). Risks can be reduced, agency buildingCLIMATE CHANGE: A enhanced, and resilient livelihood pathwaysMETHODOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK designed through the iterative re-performance within time–space learning arenas. Participants canWithout testing in the real world, more concepts, explore ways to achieve resilient designs in practicetools, and methods and better science solutions will by moving forward despite imperfect knowledge,only be of academic interest unless these solutions risks, and uncertainties and taking advantage ofmake sense “on the ground” and can be absorbed windows of opportunity. Through this learningand implemented (Lonsdale 2009b:2) process, they may be able to transform undesirable states—transitory and even chronic poverty andWhat is the relevance of comparing these theoretical marginalization—into more desirable and resilientand methodological insights from resilience futures. Managing for resilience is hard work, notthinking and AR/AL in the context of climatic simply a twist of fate.changes? We argue that the most significant lessonis the recognition that the impetus for anticipatory We propose the following methodologicaland transformative learning stems from AR/AL’s framework for facilitating anticipatory learning asexplicit emphasis on creating deliberative spaces for an iterative socioinstitutional process, specificallylearning; these spaces then allow participants to for high poverty/high livelihood vulnerabilitychallenge the very causes of their vulnerability contexts. We draw upon concrete examples from an
Ecology and Society 15(2): 11 http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol15/iss2/art11/Fig. 4. Nodes of reflection, triggering new learning loops in an ACM process for creating betterlivelihood options (Hartanto et al. 2003:64).ongoing climate change project (CCLONG) in envisioning future uncertainty and surprise.Ghana, a country where increased frequency and Consequences of past experiences and the emotionsseverity of extreme climate events result in impacts associated with them allow for learning thatthat are outside the usual and experienced coping prevents the repetition of mistakes and opens futurerange. The framework consists of five elements choices based on present decisions (Walker et al.(Fig. 6): (1) lessons learned from the past (memory); 2006, Marx et al. 2007, Bohensky 2008). In practical(2) monitoring and analysis of trends to anticipate terms, this involves an understanding of how peoplefuture events; (3) deliberate surprises, perturbations, have responded to past climatic extremes (e.g.,and discontinuities that distinguish anticipated floods and droughts), what concrete decisions theychange from known (and potentially also cyclical) have made in the face of slow and rapidly changingchange; (4) measures of anticipatory capacity; and conditions, and what strategies were most and least(5) design of decision-support tools for adaptation effective and for whom.planning. It can be argued that people’s memory is flimsy, especially if past experiences are quite dated. Also, lessons from the past may no longer be meaningfulLessons learned from the past if contexts have changed (Bohensky and Lynam 2005). Yet, people who subsist in marginalBoth resilience theory and AL/AR pay attention to environments, as in many parts of Africa, tend toaccumulated knowledge and stored or latent have surprisingly good recollection of events andpotentials for renewal and reorganization thresholds that may have pushed them into a poverty(“memory”). Memory, also referred to as trap and attempts to get out of such lock-ins. Their“experiential grounding,” serves as the knowledge memory, ability for self-organization, and agencybase underlying the capacity for anticipating and are of particular importance for adaptation planning
Ecology and Society 15(2): 11 http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol15/iss2/art11/Table 1. Conceptual similarities and overlaps between the resilience framework and participatory actionresearch/learning (AR/AL), implications for learning, and examples for climate change adaptation. Resilience Action Research/ Implications for Learning Examples for Climate Change Framework Learning (AR/AL) Adaptation Complex adaptive Loop learning and Iterative, cross-level/cross- → Learning about and practicing cycles spirals of steps scale information exchange adaptation as an action-reflection process Windows of Nodes of reflection Opening for unexpected → Possibility for adjustment in opportunities connections, innovation, and agriculture or diversification out of transformation agriculture Memory Experiential grounding Knowledge base for → Lessons learned from past envisioning the future droughts and floods to facilitate foresight Re-organization Insightful questioning Challenging assumptions and → Understanding of local and global for action worldviews drivers of climatic changes Experimentation Testing theories Flexible, incremental learning- → Local monitoring of climate and through action/practice by-doing, learning from other changes and testing mistakes adaptation options Back-loop learning Co-production of Arena for creative knowledge → Local and scientific climate knowledge and generation knowledge and re-abstraction of multiple voices external information Self-organization Spontaneous Participant-led problem solving → Agricultural innovation through cooperation and and action farmer–extension agent bounded instability collaboration Revolting Challenging of power Empowerment, new dynamics → Shift from vulnerable people as imbalances across scales passive victims of climate change to active agents who shape change Small disturbances Management probes Out-of-the box thinking, → Introduction of extreme climate and surprises innovative learning events into scenario building to explore adaptation options exceeding current response repertoire Navigating Rehearsing for reality Learning spaces for → Several alternative plans for transitions transformation managing climate uncertainties(Twomlow et al. 2008). Methods used under the resourcefulness, and provide a sense of agencyCCLONG project for investigating memory include among the poor to feel prepared for future climatehistorical matrices on extreme events, listing, shocks (Finan and Nelson 2001, Tschakert 2007,ranking, and scoring of response strategies, and Nelson and Finan 2008).mapping of knowledge transfer within and betweencommunities during times of crisis. Other studiesconfirm that shared knowledge and experiencesfrom past climate events can raise awareness, spur
Ecology and Society 15(2): 11 http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol15/iss2/art11/Fig. 5. Elements of a deliberative learning space for building anticipatory capacity.Monitoring and analysis of trends to anticipate effective response options. Drivers of change mayfuture events include external shocks and surprises such as climatic changes, people’s hopes and fears for theAlthough past and present actions inform future, and actions of policy makers, for instancereorganization, the system is still constrained by the imposed policies (Walker et al. 2002). In a contextconsequences of past response, larger and slower of high livelihood risks and vulnerabilities, many ofvariables (cycles) or drivers of change, and which are likely to be further exacerbated by climateinsufficient knowledge (Walker et al. 2006, Marx change, it is particularly crucial to thoroughlyet al. 2007, Bohensky 2008). Thus, identifying and monitor ecological and socioinstitutional processes.monitoring slowly changing variables such as The failure to do so may result in outdated andrainfall patterns and integrating and reflecting on potentially counterproductive adaptation policies,new knowledge allows for a better understanding projects, and strategies, even before they areof processes that are already under way. The same implemented (Enfors et al. 2008).is true for anticipating possible events assumingobserved trends continue. Monitoring enhances Experiences in the CCLONG project have shownflexibility during times of disturbance and boosts that drivers of climate change remain poorlythe capacity for anticipatory action. understood, especially global drivers outside of people’s empirical radar. True, the uncertainties ofBohensky and Lynam (2005) and Bohensky (2008), climate variations are fairly abstract concepts thatanalyzing water management in southern Africa, necessitate analytic understanding and, therefore,stress awareness of impacts as well as drivers of often the introduction of external information suchchange as key elements in learning and constructing as historic meteorological records and climate
Ecology and Society 15(2): 11 http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol15/iss2/art11/Fig. 6. Methodological framework depicting anticipatory learning for climate change adaptation withembedded cycles of critical reflection, anticipation, and responses.projections (Marx et al. 2007, van Aalst et al. 2008). In Ghana, we have distributed simple rain gaugesThese can raise awareness, fill potential knowledge to record precipitation events and initiatedgaps, and initiate reflection on the efficiency of community-based monitoring systems for expectedcurrent adaptation strategies under possible future timing, duration, and severity of looming heavyconditions. Although caution is required when rains and dry spells. For instance, overabundanceadding science information to the learning process of small black ants in homes and farm plots suggest(van Aalst et al. 2008), co-generating knowledge heavy rains and flooding will occur. Such localbetween researchers and stakeholders allows for the monitoring is combined with community fora tore-abstraction of analytical information into address certain misconceptions of climate change.changes in memory and action. Even if subsistence Most recently, CCLONG hosted open days in twofarmers have no control over most larger-scale district capitals to complement existing knowledgedriving forces (such as emissions from cars and with a more detailed science perspective and engageindustries in the North), a better understanding of the diverse audiences (150–190 people) intothe mechanisms behind these drivers can enhance discussions on greenhouse gases, the ozone hole,confidence in anticipating change (Biggs et al. historical climate data and trends, seasonal2007). forecasts, and downscaled climate projections for
Ecology and Society 15(2): 11 http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol15/iss2/art11/2065. Now, high schools request similar Scenario building is now recognized as a useful toolinformation events. to examine climate risks and uncertainties and involve decision makers in the adaptation process. Several integrated assessment projects in Europe,Planning for surprises, perturbations, and including VISIONS, MedAction, and ADAM, havediscontinuities through scenarios used scenario building to explore the impacts of climate change across multiple scales (Kok et al.The third part of the framework moves from 2003, Biggs et al. 2007, Patel et al. 2007). In Africa,memory and relatively predictable trends to scenario building focuses mainly on managingsurprises, discontinuities, and potentially cataclysmic natural resources and ecosystem services (Lynamevents. As stated by Scoones, the “real world” is et al. 2002, Bohensky and Lynam 2005, Ochola etshaped by “ignorance and surprise,” not just risks al. 2006, Kok et al. 2007, Bohensky 2008, Enfors(Osbahr et al. 2007:16). The capacity to cope with et al. 2008). In fact, Biggs et al. (2007) caution thatnonlinearities and other surprises depends largely incorporating global issues such as climate changeon openness for learning, the willingness to accept into local-scale scenarios may hijack communitychange as inevitable, and the ability to engage in concerns, which could result in loss of credibilityinterventions/experiments (Lebel et al. 2005). and ownership over the process. Although we seeProcesses of inquiry, experimentation, and the danger, we argue that there is an enormous needreflection are essential given incomplete knowledge to tackle local-level climate change for adaptationabout climate change (van Aalst et al. 2008, planning; scenario building provides an ideal spaceLonsdale 2009a). Hence, we advocate for the use for exploring options, uncertainties, limitations, andof participatory scenario planning/building as a trade-offs. Rather than imposing climate change asmethodological tool not only to explore a “foreign” element into one single scenario-interconnectedness, surprises, and uncertainties but building exercise, we believe that fruitful learningalso to offer empowering learning spaces where outcomes stem from iterative experiences andmultiple voices, experiences, and constraints can be cycles of reflection. Empowered agency andheard. Echoing AR/AL, we see it as an “exercise of managing for resilience can be sustained throughagency” (Ramos 2006b). the continuity of the learning process before and after the scenario building.Scenarios are stories of plausible futures and theways they may unfold. Scenario building is a For complex livelihood-vulnerability contexts,participatory process that involves multiple drawing upon Biggs et al. (2007), we propose local-stakeholders and their creative visions for assessing scale exploratory scenarios that are loosely linkedsituations in which future-shaping factors are to larger-scale drivers. Typical elements in co-uncertain and often impossible to control created storylines include local and regional(Wollenberg et al. 2000, Swart et al. 2004, Evans et environmental change and development trajectoriesal. 2006, Biggs et al. 2007, Peterson 2007). coupled with actual manifestations of poverty. WeUncertainties may include climatic ones as well as also advocate for integrating down-scaled climatedaily life and livelihood stressors and larger-level projections. This differs from other scenarioeconomic, environmental, and policy disturbances exercises in Africa that use long-term projectionsand risks. They are best investigated through or general descriptors of possible climatic changesalternative storylines and different iterations (Ochola et al. 2006, Enfors et al. 2008). Our(cycles), each focusing on subsets of driving forces experiences in the CCLONG project show that localof change. Learning and innovative thinking are resource users, teachers, agricultural extensionexpected to occur by exploring what is not known, agents, and policy makers are all interested in moreoften through the use of management or learning detailed projections. For example, the available dataprobes (envisioning a disturbance that exceeds for central Ghana indicate more delays in the onsetactual experiences, for instance drought and of the rainy season, an increased likelihood of moreflooding back to back), deliberating scenario frequent and more severe dry spells in the middleoutcomes, anticipating consequences, and planning of the major season (June–July), and risks of moreadaptive responses. Hence, scenario building heavy rainfall events toward the end of the season.exemplifies communities of inquiry where “theories It is crucial that this external science information isof/in practice” are built and tested for opening introduced and re-abstracted in prior learning cycles“windows of opportunity” and preparing for and then reused through the storylines andtransformation. experimented with as management probes that
Ecology and Society 15(2): 11 http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol15/iss2/art11/exceed current adaptation repertoires. To make social actors can certainly enhance their individualalternative scenarios more plausible, facilitate forward-looking abilities, we argue that anticipatoryownership over the stories and the characters capacity emerges and flourishes at the intersectioninvolved, and strengthen second- and third-person of first-person awareness, second-person conversation,research/practice, we use visual representations and third-person organization, as depicted bythrough local artists and participatory environmental Chandler and Torbert (2003); see Fig. 2). Inspiredtheatre and video (see also Biggs et al. 2007, Enfors by Alexander Ballard Ltd. (2008), we propose theet al. 2008). following broad determinants of individual and collective anticipatory capacity for a developing country context: awareness of climate change,Measures of anticipatory capacity experiences with and effective responses to past climatic extremes (“memory”), agency, leadership,The fourth component in our methodological engagement in concrete learning activities withlearning framework is the most challenging as it external agents (researchers), collaboration,attempts to identify and measure people’s capacity availability of wider communication networks andfor anticipation. With several learning cycles of access to climate information, visionary yet tangibleremembering, monitoring, re-abstracting knowledge, planning outcomes for dealing with futureand exploring uncertainties and surprises through conditions through consensus building (scenarios),experimentation and reflection, possibilities for and managing change.action should emerge that then feed into anticipatorycapacity (see Fig. 5). We define this capacity as the Given the collaborative nature of anticipatoryability to shift from envisioning possible futures (as learning processes, it seems essential to encourageexplored through scenario planning) to the ability all participants, from community members toto develop a dynamic plan for how to deal with researchers and policy makers, to design their ownpotential uncertainties. In AAL, this is understood metrics for success. This substantially reduces theas the capacity to “see what is not commonly seen danger of being hijacked by external agendas. Theand create what is not commonly known” only requirement is that these metrics and tools for(Inayatullah 2006:656). Stevenson (2006) argues evaluation are based on clearly defined objectivesthat people make the transition from vision to action and desired outcomes at the very beginning of thethrough the integration of critical reflection into a first learning loop and continually rehearsed.decision-action “process of foresight.” This is Practically, we can measure variables such assimilar to preparing for system change in resilience evolving awareness of climate and other changes,thinking. the willingness and ability to engage with unknown yet conceivable risks, and channels for informationIn the context of high poverty/high vulnerability, exchange through methods such as individual andthe crucial ingredient for grasping windows of community learning baselines and networkopportunity and actively shaping change in this mapping. More challenging is to pinpoint specifictransition is empowerment. According to Bohensky nodes of reflection at particular constellations inand Lyman (2005), effective strategies are chosen time and to evaluate—in retrospect and inand implemented at the congruence of being aware anticipation—emerging pathways, the factors thatof the scope and drivers of a certain impact and make some pathways more resilient than others, andfeeling empowered to respond to it. As witnessed the ultimate choices people make. This is a start;in the CCLONG project, rural stakeholders feel yet, we realize that other variables or proxies foroverwhelmingly powerless to alter the larger-scale anticipatory capacity may exist and deserve furtherprocesses that influence these changes. Often, they exploration.refer to Allah or God as holding the supreme powerto determine rains and periods of drought. Havingaccess to learning spaces where existing Design of dynamic decision-support tools forassumptions can be questioned and alternative adaptation planningpathways tested and reflected upon makes today’srealities and future uncertainties less terrifying. To date, few cyclical learning and decision-support tools exist to explore anticipatory adaptation in highIn order to measure such anticipatory capacity, we poverty/high vulnerability contexts. Interactive,need to first understand where it resides. Although multi-media learning tools in developed countries,
Ecology and Society 15(2): 11 http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol15/iss2/art11/including the “Winds of Change” board game from processes of action-reflection in which underlyingthe European Climate Forum and Potsdam Institute causes of vulnerability can be challenged andfor Climate Impact Research, the Australian TV alternative behavior, visions, and trade-offsshow “Scorched,” and the UK Climate Impacts renegotiated and re-performed. Although suchProgramme’s Adaptation Wizard, serve as learning spaces are a refreshing and long overdueinspiration for creative approaches that involve the complement to, if not substitute for, infrastructuralpublic in climate change debates. The irony is that adaptation projects, there is no doubt that they canplaces and populations that have low levels of be appropriated by power dynamics. Naming,adaptive capacity and would need such empowering acknowledging, and actively engaging with powertools most are the last to be served. International differentials implies recognizing learning outcomesnon-government organizations, such as the —in this case concrete adaptive responses—as aInternational Red Cross and Red Crescent and competitive process shaped by hierarchical andCARE International, are beginning to embrace the political control (Stevenson 2006, Osbahr 2007).possibility of using their community-based decision Despite the participatory, democratic, andrisk reduction and development tools to facilitate pluralistic underpinnings that typify anticipatorymore active, engaged, and forward-looking learning action learning, not everybody is able to afford(e.g., Red Cross/Red Crescent 2007). However, participation and some will benefit much more thancaution is required to capture the unique intersection others.of slow and rapidly changing climate conditionswith complex livelihood vulnerabilities. Integrating We have presented a methodological frameworkclimate change information into AAL processes built around five elements for facilitatingcalls for a skillful blend of a potentially top-down anticipatory learning processes as well as someexternal agenda with local-level awareness and practical examples of how to implement it.agency building. We have only started to investigate Although the individual elements are by no meanspossible options. new, we believe the iterative and cyclical structure in this reflection–decision–action process of foresight enables poor and vulnerable communitiesCONCLUDING THOUGHTS: to transform their current conditions into moreOPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES desirable and resilient futures. The process highlights their rights and skills to reduce harm andWe have shown that both resilience thinking and avoid undesirable thresholds by providing space forAR/AL have vital contributions to make for their framings and imaginations. Yet, the realanticipatory learning in the process of climate challenge remains “on the ground.” Carr (2008)change adaptation. However, so far, these questions the fairness, durability, and gendercontributions have occurred in parallel rather than implications of seemingly successful localsynergistic ways, and we argue that the time is ripe adaptations. Others point to new anxieties amongto integrate these two schools of thought and “the vulnerable” that may be triggered by learningpractice much more effectively. Boyd (Osbahr et al. about climate complexities and uncertainties (van2007) is right in noticing that issues of power, Aalst et al. 2008). Leary et al. (2008) draw attentionagency, and equity in social systems have yet to be to unexpected inability or lack of will to participateexplicitly incorporated into resilience thinking. At and adapt.the same time, the adaptation and developmentcommunity has lots to learn from resilience Most of these obstacles need to be seen in light ofmanagement by navigating periods of transformations multifaceted livelihood-vulnerability risks thatin high poverty and high vulnerability contexts. distinguish African contexts from those in the North. Equally to blame are inadequateAn important opportunity to achieve this integration communication channels to connect with deprivedoccurs by creating learning spaces to build adaptive populations and insufficient protection against risksand anticipatory capacity with and for vulnerable and failures that are likely to result from innovativepopulations, and to appreciate what adaptation experiments. Although agency building andoptions may be most feasible, sustainable, and fair empowering learning spaces can help identify andunder possible future climate and development spread risks, it is largely the responsibility of staterealities. We have described learning spaces as and non-governmental agencies to remedyarenas of iterative, experiential learning-by-doing structural poverty and limited asset portfolios. This
Ecology and Society 15(2): 11 http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol15/iss2/art11/includes providing “safety nets” to help thetransitory poor over rough patches and moresubstantial “cargo nets” to boost asset productivity Acknowledgments:of the chronic poor (Little et al., unpublishedmanuscript). This is where climate change We wish to thank the United States Agency foradaptation intersects with wider development International Development (USAID) for supportingpriorities. CCLONG (Climate Change Collective Learning and Observatory Network Ghana; #EEM-As for improving communication, it is also time to A-00-06-00014) and the National Sciencerehabilitate the role of external facilitators and Foundation for funding HSD #0826941 onparticipants as useful contributors to the learning anticipatory learning under climatic uncertainty inprocess, despite real dangers of tyrannical expert Ghana and Tanzania. We are grateful for conceptualpower. Their science input is essential for re- contributions from Maureen Biermann, Robertabstracting analytical information and incorporating Crane, Christopher Hoadley, Esther Prins, and Kenclimate surprises as learning probes into scenario Tamminga and valuable input from Polly Ericksen,building. Including their knowledge can reduce Emily Boyd, and Kamal Kapadia.biases toward local-level driving forces of changeand false optimism in futures thinking. We advocatefor more engaged teams of practitioners andresearchers to design creative learning tools and LITERATURE CITEDmeans for clarifying climate facts and uncertainties.Who else is better positioned to translate and Adger, W. N. 2003. Social capital, collective action,communicate complex dynamics, foster learning and adaptation to climate change. Economiccommunities, challenge assumptions and empirical Geography 79(4):387–404.understandings, and maneuver between inquiry andaction? Alexander Ballard Ltd. 2008. Adaptive capacity benchmarking: a handbook and toolkit. ProjectWithout a doubt, committing to a learning process carried out for Hampshire County Council on behalfthat aims to enhance anticipatory and adaptive of the European Spatial Planning: Adapting tocapacity, especially among vulnerable populations, Climate Events (ESPACE) extension project,takes time and resources from both local Berkshire, UK.stakeholders and external facilitators. It alsorequires a clear normative stance of what resilience Argyris, C., and D. Schön. 1974. Theory inmeans and for whom. Given the urgency and the practice: increasing professional effectiveness.scale of managing for resilience under climatic Jossey Bass, San Francisco, California, USA.uncertainty, more climate knowledge in itself is notenough to make climate change adaptation work. Argyris, C., and D. Schön. 1978. OrganizationalThis knowledge needs to be accessible for those who learning: a theory of action perspective. Addisonneed it most, through carefully designed yet Wesley, Reading, Massachusetts USA.flexible, iterative learning-reflection that is tailoredto real day-to-day risks, that allows experimentation Argyris, C., and D. Schön. 1996. Organizationalin practice, and that offers tangible and short-term learning II: theory, method and practice. Addisonresults. Learning by shock is neither an empowering Wesley, Reading, Massachusetts, USA.nor an ethically defensible pathway. Armitage, D. 2005. Adaptive capacity andResponses to this article can be read online at: community-based natural resource management.http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol15/iss2/art11/ Environmental Management 35(6):703–715.responses/ Armitage, D., M. Marschke, and R. Plummer. 2008. Adaptive co-management and the paradox of learning. Global Environmental Change 18:86–98. Wesley, Reading, MA, USA.
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