The Climate Knowledge Brokers Group (CKB) is writing its manifesto. It is a mammoth act, carried out by a dedicated group of fifteen people connected with the CKB Group and with input from some eighty more. It is also a necessary one, for the process of creating it has unearthed difficult but fundamental questions of identity, of purpose, and of scope. It has also galvanised and mobilised the CKB toward a common purpose, and is generating some of the most compelling evidence available for why the field is more important than ever before.
Among the contributers to the CKB Manifesto is William (Bill) Becker, Executive Director of the Presidential Climate Action Project (PCAP) and long-time policy advisor on climate and energy issues in the United States.
His interview, conducted by Vickie Healey of the Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), is the first of a series to be published by CKB in advance of the Manifesto's publication, and gives tremendous insight into several key questions facing brokers of climate knowledge, not least among them the nature of "knowledge brokering" itself.
A climate knowledge broker is "someone who conveys objective information and conveys it effectively to other stakeholders in the climate and energy fields... good knowledge brokers do not simply serve as a pipeline through which information flows from one place to another. The "broker" role involves assimilating, interpreting, sorting, translating and integrating information to create new or derivative language."
But, as Mr. Becker points out, "there is a narrow line between advocacy and information." Locating that line and staying on the right (information) side of it is a key challenge for climate knowledge brokers, who are continually developing new techniques to bring critical information to users and audiences in need of that information - even those who are not necessarily interested in hearing it. "What I and others in the environmental arena have learned is how we convey information is as important as the information we convey," says Mr. Becker. "There was a time when I and many of my colleagues went in search of moral victories by converting poeple to our points of view. The better part of knowledge brokering, however, is to communicate ideas in the language and in the value systems of the audience... One has to be multi-lingual in the cultural sense."
To read the full interview, including Mr. Becker's assessment of the gaps and limitations to climate knowledge systems today and ways to overcome them, visit the CKB website here.