Examining the role of user engagement in the regional climate outlook forums: implications for co-production of climate services
The concept of co-production between ‘producers’ and ‘users’ of climate information has gained traction in recent years. However, questions remain about how co-production should be undertaken in practice in order to produce usable climate services.
This paper examines the role of user engagement in Regional Climate Outlook Forums (RCOFs) over the last 20 years, situating user involvement in relation to the multiple goals of the RCOFs, in order to draw out lessons for co-production of climate services more broadly. Results show that approaches to user engagement in the RCOFs have spanned a wide spectrum globally due to divergent stakeholder perceptions with regard to the importance of user engagement in relation to other goals of the RCOFs, as well as differences in institutional landscapes of ‘users’ and ‘producers’ across regions.
As such, there is no ‘best’ way to approach co-production; rather, this paper concludes that there is a need to:
1) Generate refined understandings of regional users and their decision-making contexts
2) Acknowledge and clearly articulate the multiple goals and benefits of RCOFs, as well as roles and responsibilities, within a multi-level chain of climate services delivery
3) Embrace more fluid and nuanced interpretations of co-production that are not necessarily limited to interactions between ‘producers’ and ‘users’
These steps can lead to more deliberate and contextualised approaches to involving users, along with more reflexivity about when, where, why, and how – and perhaps most importantly whether – co-production should be undertaken. Such considerations will benefit broader efforts to develop usable climate services.