Climate Services Academy: Providing training in evidence synthesis

11th October 2017

Evidence for Development is working with the Walker Institute at the University of Reading to deliver the Climate Services Academy (CSAT), an exciting new initiative which is training postgraduate research students in Evidence Synthesis to inform policy and business decision-making. Climate change is already affecting the decisions of millions of people in both developed and developing countries. However, whilst climate science, agronomy, and social science are generating new insights and data streams, there are currently no training courses available which build capacity to connect these in practical, policy-focused ways.

CSAT encompasses a programme of training, immersive placement and legacy through a knowledge exchange network, to enable students to gain a practical real-world experience of the synthesis of research into evidence to inform decision-making. The format of the course provides a unique opportunity for the students to experience first-hand the environments in which key decisions are made, and how evidence is utilised by different stakeholder groups.

By the end of the programme, participants will have developed skills surrounding the communication of technical climate information to facilitate collaboration with professionals in other fields to promote policy objectives including resilience to climate change. Importantly, participants will be exposed to and involved in knowledge exchange throughout this process, and addressing the issues surrounding this will inform their future professional practice.

EfD is currently working with the Walker Institute to design the interactive training programme and plan placements in Ghana, Senegal, Uganda and Malawi. The UK-based training provides the tools and knowledge needed, then the immersive experience enables students to apply these in real situations, to gain first hand insight into the challenges of translating synthesised knowledge into evidence-based practice, and to reflect on strategies they might adopt in their professional careers to address these challenges.

This programme will support 8 Postgraduate Researchers (PGRs) in the UK, who will travel in pairs to each of the four placement countries. Each PGR will be partnered with 2 PGRs in their placement country, so they can benefit from shared learning experiences and widen their networks. Each UK student and their 2 in-country peers will spend 1 week in each of an identified Business and Government user-organisation.

Both the UK and international elements of this programme are designed to individually enhance the skills of the participants, however joining them together will provide an unrivalled experience which should profoundly influence and enhance the future practice of those involved, enabling them to make a tangible difference in a rapidly changing global development context.

Further information

The first CSAT is being funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), and will start in January 2018. We are inviting applications from PGRs at the point of submission (within six months or six months post-submission). For this CSAT, NERC-funded PGRs will be given priority. The focus of this training will be on the synthesis and interpretation of climate information, to strengthen resilience and reduce the risk of extreme events on food production and food security.

For more information, and to apply, please email


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