Future Earth’s Knowledge-Action Networks, alongside our projects, are the prime mechanism for delivering our research strategy. They are the essential links to our key focal challenges.
Knowledge-Action Networks are collaborative frameworks that facilitate highly integrative sustainability research. Their aim is to generate the multifaceted knowledge needed to inform solutions for complex societal issues.
Knowledge-Action Networks build on the broad range and diversity of specialist expertise represented in the large community of researchers and practitioners associated with Future Earth, e.g. in Research Projects, Fast-Tack Initiatives and Clusters, and endorsed and associated organisations, projects, and individuals that are part of the Future Earth Open Network.
The objectives of the Knowledge-Action Networks are to:
- identify and respond to society’s needs for scientific knowledge to successfully undertake the transformation to sustainability
- generate integrated knowledge that is relevant to decision-makers
- develop and cultivate research that is solution-driven, inter- and trans-disciplinary
- add value to research that is or has been carried out already
Contributions to Knowledge-Action Networks are on a voluntary basis through members, projects or groups with the appropriate expertise and an interest in putting their expertise into the broader context of sustainability research addressed by Future Earth.
What is the scope of the Knowledge-Action Networks?
Knowledge-Action Networks foster collaboration across disciplinary backgrounds on some of today’s most pressing global environmental challenges. Knowledge-Action Networks focus on key societal challenges as outlined in the Future Earth 2025 Vision, as well as cross-cutting topics.
In 2016, Future Earth plans to launch an initial series Knowledge-Action Networks, which include the following topics:
- Water-Energy-Food Nexus
- Natural Assets
- Sustainable Development Goals
- Finance & Economics
- Systems of Sustainable Consumption and Production
Further Knowledge-Action Networks will be developed and launched to complement this first set.
Why has Future Earth decided to build Knowledge-Action Networks?
The Future Earth 2025 Vision identifies eight major societal challenges to sustainability. It also emphasises how greater interactions among disciplines and between research and societal partners, in both public and private sectors and civil society, can improve the role of research to identify solutions for societal challenges.
Knowledge-Action Networks aim to facilitate this by creating frameworks for applying these approaches both to research and to related activities that encourage engagement between diverse partners in addressing these challenges. These dynamic networks will be innovative: aiming to identify and fill knowledge gaps that are defined collaboratively by broad communities of experts within and outside of academia.
Consistent with Future Earth’s slogan “research for global sustainability,” the main function of Knowledge-Action Networks is to generate high-quality actionable scientific knowledge through the integration of research and the involvement of societal partners, following the Engagement Guidelines of Future Earth.
How will Knowledge-Action Networks work?
Knowledge-Action Networks aim to generate knowledge by pulling from many areas of both academia and society. They involve fundamental research, integration of natural and social sciences and humanities, co-designed research questions with users, co-produced outcomes, and broader engagement activities through state-of-the-art communications, dialogues and involvement at policy interfaces. The co-design process ensures that the Knowledge-Action Networks deliver the knowledge that society needs.
Knowledge-Action Networks build on the large and diverse specialist expertise represented in the Future Earth community, in particular concerning Core Projects, Fast-Track-Initiatives, Cluster Activities and the Future Earth Open Network.
They are led and managed by a steering group, with the support of designated representatives of the Future Earth Secretariat.
In the early stages, the Future Earth Secretariat will support Knowledge-Action Network teams to obtain seed funding to support co-design processes through virtual and physical co-design workshops. Later on, the bulk of the required additional funds will be leveraged from external sources, such as public-sector funds and private foundations.
Knowledge-Action Networks are set up to be open and inclusive. Any interested researcher or societal partner is welcome to get in touch with the respective contact of the specific Knowledge-Action Network or to join the soon-to-be launched Future Earth Open Network.
Click here to access our full guidance document "Knowledge-Action Networks: Framing and Operationalisation".