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    Review of 'Communicating climate change and biodiversity loss with local populations: Exploring communicative utopias in eight transdisciplinary case studies'

    Communicating climate change and biodiversity loss with local populations: Exploring communicative utopias in eight transdisciplinary case studiesCrossref
    This article certainly addresses a critical issue in the transition to transformative research.
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        Rated 4.5 of 5.
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        Rated 4 of 5.
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        Rated 4 of 5.
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        Rated 5 of 5.
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    Communicating climate change and biodiversity loss with local populations: Exploring communicative utopias in eight transdisciplinary case studies

    Climate change and biodiversity loss trigger policies targeting and impacting local communities worldwide. However, research and policy implementation often fail to sufficiently consider community responses and involve them. We present the results of a collective self-assessment exercise for eight case studies of communications regarding climate change or biodiversity loss between project teams and local communities. We develop eight indicators of good stakeholder communication, reflecting the scope of Verran (2002)'s concept of postcolonial moments as a communicative utopia. We demonstrate that applying our indicators can enhance communication and enable community responses. However, we discover a divergence between timing, complexity, and (introspective) effort. Three cases qualify for postcolonial moments, but scrutinizing power relations and genuine knowledge co-production remain rare. While we verify the potency of various instruments for deconstructing science, their sophistication cannot substitute trust building and epistemic/transdisciplinary awareness. Lastly, we consider that reforming inadequate funding policies helps improving the work in and with local communities.

      Review information

      This work has been published open access under Creative Commons Attribution License CC BY 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Conditions, terms of use and publishing policy can be found at www.scienceopen.com.

      Philosophy of science,Environmental economics & Politics,Environmental studies,Environmental management, Policy & Planning,General social science,Development studies
      Climate change,Biodiversity,Sustainable development,People and their environment,local knowledge,local communities,climate change,Environmental justice and inequality/inequity,transdisciplinary communication,biodiversity loss,Environmental policy and practice,postcolonial moments,knowledge co-production

      Review text

      The paper raises some critical and topical points for the transition from current still Global North-dominated approaches to research for sustainability to knowledge co-production. I have a general comment, and a few specific comments to further clarify the findings and overall narrative of the paper, and ensure that the paper is in line with current thinking and practice in this area. 

      On a general note, the article does not come across as a fully coherent line of argumentation: are the authors actually challenging quite fundamentally the idea of "science communication" to ensure post-colonial moments (which seems to be necessary in the light of thier findings on deeper understanding of power and other barriers, as mentioned in the conclusions) or are they suggesting some adjustments to "communication" as generally understood and pracitces in Global North-led research projects? Some of the discussion throughout the paper (and the abstract) seems to be more aligned with the latter conclusion. 

      On more specific points, I would encourage the authors to think about some questions that appear between the lines of their article, mainly to do with their own self-reflection:

      - isn't there also a question of training Global North scientists in understanding indigenous and local knowledge, before even starting to design a research project that will rely on other knowledge systems? In various points in the article, the assumption is that "stakholders" in the Global South need to understand the framing and terms of researchers, not the other way around, and "communication" helps stakeholders to understand researchers mainly (even if sometimes it also helps researchers better understanding local knowledge). This is critical for some of the assumptions that emerge in the paper ("biodiversity" is a complex concept for local communities, whereas their own knowledge and lived experiences may actually have more to do with and say on complexity than our own/international notions of biodiversity).


      - should researchers consider indigenous and local knowledge holders as "co-researchers" as part of knowledge co-production, rather than "essential for data collection and policy implementation" (p 17). Isn't this in itself a barrier to post-colonial research practices? And how does it speak to the authors' conclusions (or has it fallen through the cracks)? 


      - what have the authors learnt about research co-design with Indigenous and local knowledge holders (p 15): is this  a matter of communication or does it go deeper/elsewhere?

      - there is no (self)-reflection in the article about the role of local academic researh and researchers in 1) supporting research co-design; 2) providing an essential preparation for Global North-researchers before engaging in co-designing research projects and 3) in implemenation and post-implementation of knowledge co-creation projects. The disregard for prior local academic research contributes to misunderstandings and inaccurate assumptions by Global North-led research projects, missed opportunities for connected with pre-existing trusted relationships and ensuring fair and equitable benefit-sharing from research projects in terms of recognition, mutual learning and long-lasting enhancements in research capacities in the Global South. 

      - please make sure you use the correct spelling of "Colombia" (not "Columbia") throughout the article 


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