How does collective intelligence address climate change?

31 August, 2015 by (comments)

The Climate CoLab community, led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA, seeks to harness the collective intelligence of people all over the world in putting together proposals that tackle the challenge of climate change.

Inspired by developments such as Wikipedia and Linux, MIT created the crowdsourcing platform, where citizens work with experts and with each other to create, analyze, and select the best proposals aimed at finding concrete actions, such as generating electricity with lower greenhouse gas emissions or modifying social attitudes towards climate change.

Image: MIT.

The crowdsourcing platform is used to hold contests in which community members combine their ideas to generate climate action plans for a country, a group of countries, or the whole world. Experts evaluate the proposals and select the finalists, and then both the experts and community members select the most promising proposals and present them at MIT’s Solve conference.

This year, Anton Eitzinger, a scientist with CIAT’s Decision and Policy Analysis Research Area (DAPA), and his team submitted a proposal titled Seeding science knowledge by engaging local experts” in response to the question posed in the contest’s adaptation category: What can we do to prepare and adapt to the impacts of climate change?

According to Eitzinger, “in this initiative, collective intelligence will be very helpful in finding, from different perspectives, solutions to global problems such as climate change.” In this case, the sum of all collective decisions will be more effective than any individual decisions that could be made.

The project presented by CIAT aims to do just that: to combine, through participatory approaches, the agricultural research knowledge of experts with that of farmers or beneficiaries, and feedback this knowledge with the help of information and communication technologies (ICT).

“The idea for the proposal emerged from a similar project we implemented in Tanzania in 2014 with more than 900 local farmers and technicians, thanks to the financial support of the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID). The proposed project seeks to ensure that, through climate-smart agriculture, Colombian farmers can adapt their practices and crops to variable climatic conditions and protect themselves from the adverse effects of climate change, in order to increase their farm yield and household income,” said Eitzinger.

Read the complete proposal here.

This project was selected as a finalist among 350 proposals that were initially submitted and will now go through two rounds of evaluation. The first evaluation is by popular choice (Popular Choice Award), and you, the readers of this post, will be able to vote for this proposal.

The second evaluation will be conducted by a panel of expert judges; the winners will receive a US$10,000 prize that will be used to carry out the first stage of the project in the Department of Cauca, Colombia.

Filed Under: Climate Change