Abstract for: Knowledge analysis in coupled social-ecological systems

Climate change will lead to significant yield reductions in maize dominated farming systems in sub Saharan Africa. Agriculture in this region thus faces the challenge of undergoing considerable transformation in order to adapt to climate change and become more food secure. Stakeholders who are directly affected by the challenge to adapt to changing conditions, however, neither have an overview of existing adaptation options and their impacts, nor do they have sufficient knowledge for prioritizing and implementing these options. This paper proposes a methodology for evaluating stakeholders’ knowledge of and learning in complex dynamic systems such as agri-food systems. This methodology emphasizes the analysis of how stakeholders affected by climate change and food insecurity perceive the current situation, how they acquire new knowledge in the course of a system dynamics-based intervention and how their existing knowledge hinders or contributes to the acquisition of new knowledge. In a pilot study, we apply this methodology to the case of agri-food systems in Burkina Faso and we report on data about stakeholders’ conceptions about the challenges offered by climate change and the effectiveness of different policy options to meet these challenges.