New York City is already experiencing the impacts of climate change, and due to structural inequalities, some New Yorkers are impacted more than others. In order to make progress on equitable action, in 2020, a sustained engagement process called the Climate Knowledge Exchange (CKE), was created by the Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice (MOCEJ).
MOCEJ piloted the CKE as an engagement process focused on identifying what City staff, nonprofit and community-based organizations, and scientists consider to be the biggest knowledge gaps impeding a just climate response in NYC. In the first year of the CKE, MOCEJ engaged over 170 people from 27 non-governmental organizations and 21 city agencies in 25 small discussion groups. Thematic analysis of these discussions and document review of community plans and survey data were used to identify four key research focus areas, outlined in the State of Climate Knowledge 2021 report. In 2022, MOCEJ brought together many of the same participants from 2021, as well as new individuals from nonprofit and community organizations, academia, and government agencies, to refine the design of the engagement process to achieve the CKE’s broader objectives of collectively identifying climate research needs and working toward building capacity for just climate action.
The State of Climate Knowledge 2022 Workshop Summary Report provides a synopsis of the outcomes of the three-workshop series, which was designed to refine the CKE engagement process. Participants were asked to reflect on what was working and not working with climate knowledge exchange processes in NYC, develop principles and articulate key goals of the CKE, as well as identify potential strategies to achieve the goals and monitor their success. With a cross-cutting focus on equity and climate justice, the following five key goals of the CKE were identified:
- Sustained funding is achieved;
- Information is accessible to all;
- Networking and partnerships with stakeholders are created and maintained;
- Multi-way exchanges to empower and elevate communities are established; and
- Brave spaces for listening and learning are fostered.
In addition to building out these goals with specific strategies and underlying guiding principles, the State of Climate Knowledge Summary Report also sets the foundation for future CKE efforts, outlining recommendations for strengthening subsequent engagement. These recommendations include: (1) the establishment of a CKE governing body; (2) identification of a sustained funding pipeline; and (3) tracking and mapping existing climate research and practice-based efforts. Examining this final recommendation, the report also features highlights from contributing nonprofit and community-based organizations on their ongoing climate projects and initiatives.
In order to help ensure that equitable action is taken to make New Yorkers resilient to the impacts of climate change, all voices must be heard. There is an enormous opportunity for communities, nonprofits, researchers, and government agencies to learn from one another through a knowledge exchange program such as the CKE. Moving forward, the aspiration is to maintain communication, act on the identified goals, and continue to expand the CKE through new stakeholder engagement.