Connecting Climate Information Producers and Users: Boundary Organization, Knowledge Networks, and Information Brokers at Caribbean Climate Outlook Forums

Zack Guido Institute of the Environment, The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona

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Valerie Rountree School of Natural Resources and Environment, The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona

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Christina Greene School of Geography and Development, The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona

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Andrea Gerlak Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona

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Adrian Trotman Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology, Bridgetown, Barbados

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Abstract

Boundary organizations, knowledge networks, and information brokers have been suggested as mechanisms that help integrate information into decision-making and enhance interactions between the producers and users of climate information. While these mechanisms have been discussed in many studies in disparate fields of research, there has been little empirical research describing how they relate and support each other within studies on climate services. In this paper, two Caribbean Regional Climate Outlook Forums (CariCOFs) convened in 2014 are studied. CariCOFs facilitate the production of regional seasonal climate information and the dissemination of it to a diverse climate and socioeconomic region. Network analysis, key informant interviews, and small group discussions were used to answer two questions: 1) what are the barriers to using seasonal climate forecasts (SCFs) by CariCOF participants and 2) what are the iterative processes of information exchange that address these barriers? The barriers to using SCF include difficulty in demonstrating the value of the forecast to potential users, difficulty in interpreting and explaining the forecast to others, and challenges associated with the scientific language used in the information. To address these constraints, the convener of the CariCOF acts as a boundary organization by enabling interactions between participants representing diverse sectoral and geographic settings. This develops a network that helps build shared scientific understanding and knowledge about how different sectors experience climate risk. These interactions guide information brokering activities that help individuals communicate and translate climate information to facilitate understanding at local levels.

Corresponding author address: Zack Guido, Institute of the Environment, University of Arizona, ENR2, 1064 E. Lowell St., Tucson, AZ 85721. E-mail: zguido@email.arizona.edu

Abstract

Boundary organizations, knowledge networks, and information brokers have been suggested as mechanisms that help integrate information into decision-making and enhance interactions between the producers and users of climate information. While these mechanisms have been discussed in many studies in disparate fields of research, there has been little empirical research describing how they relate and support each other within studies on climate services. In this paper, two Caribbean Regional Climate Outlook Forums (CariCOFs) convened in 2014 are studied. CariCOFs facilitate the production of regional seasonal climate information and the dissemination of it to a diverse climate and socioeconomic region. Network analysis, key informant interviews, and small group discussions were used to answer two questions: 1) what are the barriers to using seasonal climate forecasts (SCFs) by CariCOF participants and 2) what are the iterative processes of information exchange that address these barriers? The barriers to using SCF include difficulty in demonstrating the value of the forecast to potential users, difficulty in interpreting and explaining the forecast to others, and challenges associated with the scientific language used in the information. To address these constraints, the convener of the CariCOF acts as a boundary organization by enabling interactions between participants representing diverse sectoral and geographic settings. This develops a network that helps build shared scientific understanding and knowledge about how different sectors experience climate risk. These interactions guide information brokering activities that help individuals communicate and translate climate information to facilitate understanding at local levels.

Corresponding author address: Zack Guido, Institute of the Environment, University of Arizona, ENR2, 1064 E. Lowell St., Tucson, AZ 85721. E-mail: zguido@email.arizona.edu
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