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As the project progresses, we will post updates and news blogs on this page.

Rachel Brisley and Niamh Neale, Ipsos UK

The first citizen engagement as part of the Global Science Partnership took place last week in the Seychelles. Read on to find out more about how citizens came together to discuss potential approaches to enhance the climate resilience of food production.

The Seychelles is a Small Island Developing State with a population of just 100,000 across its eight inhabited islands. Well known as a holiday destination for its idyllic sandy beaches and turquoise ocean, the Seychelles has a small yet important agriculture sector for local fruits, vegetables and livestock. On the global stage, the Seychelles is an insignificant emitter of greenhouse gases, yet it is particularly vulnerable to the environmental challenges of climate change. These issues include sea level rise, increased air and surface temperatures, increased flooding, saline intrusion and an extended dry season accompanied by rainfall variability. No one is more aware of these challenges than the people whose livelihoods depend on the land, so climate change adaptation is a national priority in the Seychelles.

Policymakers in the Seychelles identified a need to implement appropriate climate smart technologies and practices that support an integrated approach to landscape management, to address the interlinked challenges of food security and climate resilience.

There is a Seychellois Creole saying that roughly translates into: “You can’t squeeze water out of a stone, but you can collect water on top of it”, meaning that when there is a seemingly impossible feat, improvisation and intuitive thinking is necessary to get your desired outcome. This is where this innovative research methodology comes in; combining scientific knowledge with grassroots citizen participation identifies creative and desirable solutions and can therefore contribute to policy outcomes which are more effective, more inclusive and can better predict the challenges ahead.

Citizen engagement in the Seychelles

The two-day Global Science Partnership deliberative mini public was hosted by the University of Seychelles, designed and run by Guy Morel, SGM and Partners Consulting, with support from Ipsos, and facilitated by a team from the University and the Seychelles Government.

The initiative is also supported by the Seychelles government, with Mr. Xavier Estico and the Science, Technology and Innovation Division playing a key role in embedding this methodology into policymaking and supporting the citizen engagement process. As part of their trip to the Seychelles, Rachel and Niamh met with Ms Devika Vidot, Minister of Investment, Entrepreneurship who outlined how the priorities of government are aligned with this research project.

The aim of the workshop was to explore agricultural climate-smart technologies that could be implemented to support climate resilience and enhance food security. The workshop participants were farmers, household growers and students from the Seychelles Institute of Agriculture and Horticulture (SIAH). Participants explored:

  • Climate challenges, resilience, food security and carbon emissions in the Seychelles.

  • Key trade-offs – for instance, domestic food production versus imports.

  • Climate-smart technologies, focusing on drip irrigation, weather information, climate resilient seeds, and contour farming as key technologies.

  • Challenges, opportunities and priorities for climate smart technology implementation.

The workshop was designed to encourage an inclusive, context specific and reflective discussion, aiming to understand the priorities of the three sub-groups and the overall group. Rachel Brisley and Niamh Neale from Ipsos supported and participated in these workshops. Here are five key insights and learnings from their involvement in these workshops, and time spent in the field:

  1. The impact of climate change on day-to-day life in the Seychelles is substantial so climate change is a national priority: Climate change is taken seriously in the Seychelles. It’s not something that might happen in the future, it’s already happening and affecting infrastructure, the environment and food production. This was very evident from the workshops where Government representatives, farmers, household growers and students spoke about their experiences of waist-high flood water, livestock dying in front of their eyes from overheating, crops failing from high temperatures and infrastructure damaged by landslides.

  2. Securing food security and resilience is a strong focus and priority for climate action: The farming community was passionate about the need to enhance food security within the context of a changing climate. Ensuring everyone has access to affordable and nutritious food, including the ~400,000 tourists that visit the Seychelles every year, is a clear priority.

  3. We need to think and act ‘as a system’: The importance of a systems-based approach to drive sustainable change was reinforced throughout the discussions. The impacts of climate change on food production and subsequently food security has implications for multiple agendas and policy areas – economy, tourism, biodiversity, health, and education in the Seychelles.

  4. Technologies have potential to help address these system-wide challenges, but there are barriers to implementation that need to be overcome: It was clear that the technologies discussed have strong potential to address climate resilience, climate mitigation and food security, and that they can be combined with the traditional techniques of the existing farming community. However, key barriers were identified as access to funding and expertise and these need to be addressed to enable wider scale implementation of the technologies.

  5. There was substantial appetite for engaging and convening diverse groups together to deliberate on these issues in the Seychelles: The importance of bringing the existing farming community and agricultural students together was very evident. The established farming community recognised that the students present are the farmers and policy makers of the future that we are influencing now and therefore their involvement is crucial.

The Citizen Engagement Workshop received substantial media attention, including features on two national television stations and two major newspapers. The passion and enthusiasm were evident from all participants and facilitators enabling very open and honest communication with everyone appreciating others’ points of view. Participants appreciated the novel grassroots approach and hope this will mean Government will take their views into account and act on the identified priorities.

Please click below to see the footage of the two-day workshop

Day 1

Day 2

Next steps for Seychelles as part of the Global Science Partnership

The Global Science Partnership was launched by the UK COP26 Presidency in 2021 and aims to turn climate commitments into science-based and citizen-focused action by better using science and citizen’s views to inform the development of climate policy.

The Seychelles, Kenya and Colombia are piloting the new methodology focusing on net zero and climate resilient food systems. This blog summarises initial insights from citizen engagement – which will feed into the policy research led by Ricardo, bringing together the findings from the scientific investigation and citizen engagement for the Seychelles. Findings from these pilot projects will also inform the development of a final report and toolkit from across all pilots, including the Seychelles, in summer 2023 to showcase best practice, share lessons learned and insights on how this approach can be scaled globally.

Updated: Jan 27

Net-Zero Food Systems and Building Resilience Through Climate Smart Agriculture Technologies and Practices: Citizen Engagement Workshop

The Global Science Partnership (GSP) is set to deliberate on climate smart technologies and practices that can support an integrated approach to landscape management, and address challenges such as food security and climate resilience at an upcoming citizen engagement workshop in January.

A legacy initiative from the UK’s presidency of COP26, the GSP is a science and public engagement partnership that brings together academic and research communities, policymakers, civil society, and the public’s perspectives to spark effective and more inclusive climate action. The workshop is part of a greater initiative involving policy makers, climate scientists and citizens to form a more inclusive and participatory approach to climate action.

Founded on the premise that engaging people in climate science empowers them to influence the climate agenda, the partnership aims to achieve more effective climate action. When climate scientists are engaged in policymaking, evidence gaps can be identified and additional evidence produced, improving policy outcomes with evidence-based decision-making. The GSP is a collaboration between Ipsos and the Division of Science, Technology and Innovation (Ministry of Investment, Entrepreneurship and Industry).

Mr. Xavier Estico, co-author and signatory of the COP26 Opening Statement along with government science advisors from around the world, secured Seychelles’ participation in the Global Science Partnership pilot project led by the UK Government. There are currently three pilot studies currently underway in Colombia, Kenya and the Seychelles.

The Seychelles is piloting the methodology under the leadership of DSTI’s ‘Net Zero Food Systems and Building Resilience’ work. This is to be achieved through a number of identified key Climate-smart technologies by a local Experts Group under the leadership of DSTI.

The citizen engagement workshops will take place on the Wednesday 25 and Thursday 26 January 2023 at the University of Seychelles Anse Royale. The thirty participants will deliberate on the subject of climate smart technologies and practices that are available to support an integrated approach to landscape management that addresses the interlinked challenges of food security and climate resilience.

Ms. Rachel Brisley and Ms. Niamh Neale from Ipsos are in Seychelles for the Citizen Engagement, and Mr. Guy Morel is the main workshop facilitator. For media enquiries, please contact Project Director Reema Patel:

The Global Science Partnership

We are delighted to be launching a key, strategic global project at COP27 that aims to catalyse action and drive change through evidence-based science engagement and deliberative, citizen engagement. Evidence-based engagement with diverse publics and impacted stakeholders on a complex and future facing issue is important because it ensures more inclusive and effective policy that considers a wide range of stakeholders’ values and needs. Furthermore, the project is facilitating the development of a public mandate for climate action which is key for delivering effective and inclusive change.

This project builds upon the Glasgow Climate Pact, as part of the UK’s COP26 Presidency legacy and climate leadership. The aims are to:

• Advance global knowledge on how best to combine scientific evidence with citizen views and perspectives to inform the development of climate policy.

• Develop a scalable methodology for research and citizen engagement on climate that can be deployed across the world and

• Establish impact and legacy for both climate policy and deliberative engagement globally.

As the video above illustrates, the Global Science Partnership is a partnership of countries
worldwide, which brings together research communities, policymakers, and the public to
develop and pilot an innovative methodology to spark effective and more inclusive climate action. Three pilot countries – Seychelles, Colombia and Kenya are currently working to explore the application of this methodology, sharing learning from the process for wider, global use and impact.

The feedback loops operate across citizen engagement, science and knowledge, and policy making, and the overarching aim of these three strands working together is to contribute towards a global, more effective and just climate transition to a resilient and Net Zero world.

What does success look like? Our approach to learning and developing a scalable methodology

As the pilots progress, research partners Ipsos and Ricardo are gathering learning and evidence about what works on the ground in different countries, to help shape legacy research and materials for a methodology that can be scaled anywhere in the world. We have taken this approach by developing a Theory of Change and undertaking a light touch, formative and summative evaluation. The below diagram illustrates the key success indicators we are measuring progress by:

- Citizens are engaged in climate science and policy, have a greater awareness of the issues, and are more willing to act in relation to the climate agenda.
- Science is better understood and valued by a broader range of stakeholders, including citizens, with climate science built more effectively into the evidence base and public narrative.
- Policymakers have access to better evidence, with an increased understanding of the public’s mindset ultimately shaping more inclusive and effective policy.

What methodology have pilot countries been using to approach these challenges?

Working with different countries, recognising different contexts, scope and challenges, we have identified three key steps in developing and piloting these approaches:

  1. Step 1: Problem definition with policymakers: The methodology starts with policy makers in each country identifying a challenging problem that requires wide societal input, where there is currently a gap in the evidence base. This process also ensures that the issues are defined and led by the countries’ own knowledge and expertise of these issues.

  2. Step 2: Stakeholder input and engagement: Through stakeholder input, the science and other expert and specialist communities are invited to provide and signpost to existing evidence and highlight where further research is needed. This process ensures that a wide range of stakeholders and specialists are bought into the process and help shape the question for definition. At this stage, scientists and policymakers are also engaged in discussions about which issues will require wide societal buy in and public confidence, for effective change.

  3. Step 3: Citizen engagement: Citizens are then engaged in workshops to explore their insights into the challenge, as well as how they are impacted by them. All three perspectives are combined to create policy and research recommendations that have the support of scientists and citizens themselves, while being actively helpful towards policymakers’ current challenges. We see this stage as the final step in the feedback loop that responds to the problem and policy question as defined by policy makers in step 1.

What policy topics and areas have been identified?

As the project has evolved, the pilot countries have been refining their own priority issues and policy areas, as set out below:
Kenya - Data Governance in Climate Smart Agriculture
What are the barriers to sharing data with regards to climate smart agriculture interventions in Kenya?

How can we establish accurate baselines to plan, monitor and evaluate effective climate smart agriculture interventions?

Colombia – The Sustainability of Livestock Landscapes

How can we combine citizen and science insights to support the construction and adoption of an integrated management system that achieves sustainable livestock landscapes - considering greenhouse gas emissions neutrality, food security and resilience to climate change?

Seychelles – The role of technology in shaping climate resilient food systems

What climate proof technologies can be adopted to build resilience in Seychelles food production system?

Which climate proof technologies building resilience exist elsewhere, and could apply to the Seychelles, and what challenges have farmers in particular faced in implementing technologies for resilience? What support and incentives will they require to overcome the challenges?

Can Citizens Really Navigate Complex Issues? The Potential for Deliberation

We recognise that policy challenges can be both technical and complex requiring a multitude of stakeholders to engage in these conversations. Initiatives such as the UK Climate Citizens’ Assembly, or the numerous Sciencewise public dialogues on climate adaptation and net zero futures, demonstrate how the public care and can express important views about the present and future, provided their engagement is fully supported and resourced. Some issues will require support and buy-in from a range of stakeholders to be truly successful. Citizen engagement, when resourced and done well, can bring the ‘whole system’ together in a room to tackle complex problems. With the right methodology, experience has demonstrated that citizens can and already do provide insight into complex policy questions. All three pilots use deliberative public engagement – taking people through several hours of understanding, discussion and exploration of the key themes before coming to a conclusion or advisory steer on the issues or questions at hand.
In developing and sharing learnings from this work, policymakers worldwide will be supported to consider broadening the conversation so that policymaking in climate contexts and beyond can be both more inclusive of diverse forms of expertise, and more effective as a result.
You can contact the team here for more information.


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