Knowledge for Climate (2007–2014) was a Dutch research programme aimed at developing applied knowledge, through cooperation between the Dutch government, the business community and scientific research institutes, to ensure that long-term decision making considers the impacts of climate change. It focused on a limited number of vulnerable areas, or ‘hotspots’, and regional knowledge programmes using an integrated multi-stakeholder participative approach in three phases: 1) ‘low-hanging fruit’ projects, which were often practical and easily implemented; 2) doctoral projects in science; 3) valorisation and regional adaptation schemes.
Research topic diversity, rather than ethnic, gender and socio-economic diversity, was an explicit aim of this programme. Thus, transdisciplinary actors were involved in a thorough exploration of possible research themes very early in the programme. Selection of research themes was based on scientific and societal criteria. In addition, funding was determined by societal actors who had to contribute up to 50% of the funds.
The main programme topics were climate resilience and climate adaptation. Projects considered possible impacts of climate change and subsequent climate adaptation measures early in the policymaking and innovation processes. Many resulting research projects studied risks and benefits, such as flooding of unembanked areas, insurance in high-risk flood areas and urban health stress. Some projects also studied citizens’ values (how citizens regarded living in areas associated with high-flood risks).
A broad array of stakeholders participated in the programme committee, regional hotspot coordination or research projects. On all three levels, stakeholders were expected to actively contribute to cognitive processes; thus, they were co-constructing R&D agendas and becoming aware of other actors’ perspectives. Some projects led to direct changes in policy schemes or to the creation of concrete building projects. Though there was no direct involvement by societal stakeholders, external pressures were considered.
After developing adaptation strategies, the programme established a climate knowledge facility, which focused on generic long-term knowledge issues and actively participated in knowledge transfer so that the knowledge generated through the programme was available in the Netherlands and internationally. The programme’s approach was exported to other delta regions and cities with similar climate resilience issues (e.g., Shanghai and Jakarta).
Knowledge co-creation aids effective research practice, increases understanding of each other’s values and disciplines, and encourages network building and inclusiveness. The chance of producing successful and feasible adaptation strategies is considerably greater if there is good cooperation between all relevant stakeholders and if the development of knowledge is actively demand driven.