Bridging silos with social learning

Ministries from around the world gather in Bangkok, Thailand, for social learning event on ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.

Mangrove EcoDRR Thailand seedling coastal resilience

In the face of more and more interconnected and intensifying challenges, there is a range of solutions that can be put in place to ensure the sustainable wellbeing of humankind and nature. For example, in the face of ever increasingly frequent, intense and costly disasters, Ecosystem-based Disaster Risk Reduction (Eco-DRR) is “the sustainable management, conservation and restoration of ecosystems to provide services that reduce disaster risk by mitigating hazards and by increasing livelihood resilience" (Partnership for Environment and Disaster Risk Reduction).

Workshop partcipants social learning Veronica Ruiz Photo: IUCN IUCN is a convenor of sustainability transformation dialogues, where learning leaves people inspired and equipped with action-oriented solutions for our planet. In a recently convened, global three-day workshop, for Ecosystem-based Disaster Risk Reduction (EcoDRR), IUCN brought together highly qualified and experienced policymakers from nineteen countries around the world, in Bangkok, Thailand. During the workshop, IUCN created safe and inclusive learning spaces for Government officials to apply and share knowledge to the concept of EcoDRR, through feeling comfortable with confirming, validating, challenging and ultimately, co-developing new knowledge on the concept.

Radhika Murti Photo: IUCN Relief Kit

“The workshop was mostly about participants being able to tap into their own knowledge and experiences versus knowledge transmission from the facilitators,” says Radhika Murti, Global Director of the IUCN Ecosystem Management Programme. “In shifting the focus of such capacity development workshops from top-down knowledge transmission and teacher-learner mode, to more informal, engaging and interactive ways of learning, we have a real shot at developing the solutions we seek to complex sustainability challenges such as environmental management and disaster risk reduction.”

Engaging and interactive learning modes such as peer-to-peer learning or social learning allows for tapping into the diversity of knowledge and experiences, in this case, from 19 countries around the world. Valuing the individual participant’s knowledge and experiences (versus creating formal country reporting platforms, as commonly done in many international capacity development workshops) allows for the learning process to tap into the richness and diversity of knowledge and experiences.

Workshop partcipants social learning Photo: IUCN Relief Kit

This is of particular significance to EcoDRR, which integrates two disciplines, whereby harnessing existing knowledge on environment management, together with disaster risk management. EcoDRR and ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change have gained recognition, been piloted on the ground and mandated through global policy frameworks such as the Paris agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) through its governing body the Conference of Parties (COP) - CBD COP decision XII/20 Biodiversity and Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction in the past 10 years. It is, therefore, necessary to build capacity to understand, appreciate and implement the potential of ecosystem-based solutions to their disaster and climate risks.

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