Social network weaving for climate adaptation

Interconnected people

Network weaving is a concept from community organizing.  Here’s a definition from the Kansas Opportunity Innovation Network:

Network weaving is the process of building community and strengthening social capital in a community by bringing together and connecting better the actors in a social network …

A successful network weaving approach uses social network maps to look at networks that exist, the ties they form, look for potential network weavers and engage local stakeholders by connecting previously disconnected actors, scouting for new opportunities and working together as a group for better outcomes and encourage new relationships and collaborations.

California Water Research recommended that the California Climate Adaptation Strategy should include an explicit goal to strengthen local and regional stakeholder networks to increase climate resilience.

The recommendation was based on work by Ken Vance-Borland and June Holley, who did stakeholder social network mapping and facilitation in Oregon, strengthening the network for sustainable resources management. (Vance-Borland and Holley 2010.) They explained:

[N]etwork structural characteristics that are hypothesized to contribute to sustainable natural resources management include: densely connected groups of people that share specific knowledge and work together productively; a heterogeneous set of groups within the network as a whole, contributing expertise in a variety of knowledge areas; bridging relationships between groups that facilitate the sharing of expert knowledge in response to emerging challenges;  and ties to a periphery of diverse actors that provide specialized knowledge, skills, and other resources over time as changing circumstances require.

This is the social network map developed by Vance-Borland and Holley:

There are many collaborative networks formed for Integrated Regional Water Management planning, but this concept would be broader in looking at management of other natural resources.

Mark Lubell did a comprehensive study of the climate adaptation stakeholder network in the San Francisco Bay Area (Lubell 2017) noting:

Resilience also requires adaptive governance, where decision-makers must be able to adjust over time in the face of uncertainty and treat policy decisions as experiments that provide learning opportunities. In turn, adaptive governance requires a dynamic integration of scientific and local knowledge, shared management responsibility at multi-levels, building social capital in the form of trust-based policy networks, and leadership from key stakeholders.

We also recommended that the Delta Science Program do a stakeholder map for the natural resources management community in the Delta and northern San Francisco Bay. There doesn’t appear to be a comprehensive social network map that includes federal, state and local government organizations, NGOs, community based and Environmental Justice organizations. It could be helpful for many efforts in the Delta.

Further reading

California Water Research. 2021. Comments on Draft Climate Adaptation Strategy. November 17, 2021.

Lubell, Mark. 2017. The Governance Gap: Climate Adaptation and Sea-Level Rise in the San Francisco Bay Area Univ. California, Davis.

Vance-Borland, Ken and Holley, June. 2011. Conservation Stakeholder Network Mapping, Analysis, and Weaving. Conservation Letters. 4:278 – 288. doi:10.1111/j.1755-263X.2011.00176.x.

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