Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Identifying climate research knowledge gaps for CLARE

The brief 

The FCDO commissioned Shift Sustainability to conduct research to inform the new climate and resilience research framework (CLARE), which is jointly managed between the FCDO and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) Canada.​ Shift’s role focused on designing and putting into practice a methodology to collect robust insight from academic audiences, to identify knowledge gaps and the priority challenges relating to resilience and adaptation in developing countries.

The approach

Shift developed a methodology aimed at: reaching a broad range of climate experts across fields and geographies, limiting bias towards personal research interests, and building collaboration and consensus across the international climate research community. The method included: ​

  • Delphi-style qualitative interviews with a core of 30 expert panel members. ​
  • The consolidated Delphi findings then informed a survey to the wider research community to build on the panel responses and drive consensus more widely – ca. 780 researchers were invited to take part with the survey receiving 164 usable responses. 

The value

More than 200 individual research gaps were identified across all phases. The Shift team quickly got to grips with the range of complex topics and how they related one to another. Working in close collaboration with the FCDO team we grouped the gaps into a set of 27 thematic research clusters which were tested with researchers at the wider consultation phase. In addition, 9 overarching ‘research amplifiers’, including factors or principles which could aid the implementation of research projects and climate action. The final report provided a comprehensive reference tool highlighting priority knowledge gaps across a range of themes, while the prioritisation also took into account identified challenges and barriers to conducting research in these areas, and how areas interrelated from a systems perspective.