The Politics of ‘Usable’ Knowledge: Examining the Development of Climate Services in Tanzania

Climatic Change (2019)
by Meaghan Daly and Lisa Dilling

Abstract: The field of climate services has arisen rapidly out of a desire to enable climate science to meet the information needs of society to respond to climate variability and change. In order for knowledge to be “usable” for decision-making, in the field of climate adaptation and beyond, it must meet the criteria of credibility, salience, and legitimacy (Cash et al., PNAS 100:8086–8091, 2003). Deliberate “co-production” of knowledge between “producers” and “users” has the potential to increase usability for decision-making and policy in some contexts. While co-production is increasingly advanced as an instrumental approach to facilitate the production of usable climate services, such efforts have paid scant attention to the role of power relations. In this article, we bring together literature on normative approaches to co-production—which treats co-production as an instrumental means to an end—with analytical interpretations of co-production within the field of Science and Technology Studies to examine efforts to develop usable climate services in Tanzania. We show that without reflexive processes that are explicitly attentive to power dynamics, normative co-production within climate services development can serve to reinforce, rather than overcome, power imbalances among actors. Read more …

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