Over an initial scoping period, DSG was focused on building foundational knowledge, structures, and relationships for capacity building. DSG will continue to work on a range of activities, including building organizational infrastructure, working with civil society domestically and internationally, and continuing to develop models around knowledge sharing. DSG is focused on pursuing a range of activities that drive towards its mission:
There are many preliminary activities DSG is engaged in. Below is a more detailed description on just a few of these:
1. A governance capacity building definition and model
The ability for policymakers and civil society organizations to engage in decision-making or policy processes requires a focused, tailored capacity building for governance. Broadly however, capacity building efforts on solar geoengineering have thus far had very little attention. To the extent they exist, efforts have largely focused on building the capacity of scientists and researchers. Capacity building for solar geoengineering governance focuses on building the capacity for climate vulnerable communities and countries to both directly implement and participate in the governance of solar geoengineering research and potential deployment.
DSG aims to address this gap by working with local partners to build capacity for solar geoengineering governance with and for civil society and policymakers. To do so, DSG is first filling a critical gap by developing a definition of governance capacity building for solar geoengineering in the context of broader capacity building in the climate space, such as existing definitions, approaches, and lessons learned from other efforts. DSG is further creating a capacity building model that it will work to implement, including modular and adaptive components that will necessarily depend on the lens of organizational partners and geographic regions. Previous capacity building activities have largely been short-term, projectized and sectoral, led by donors and without sufficient ownership on behalf of targeted countries or communities. These factors limit the impact of the intervention, limit opportunities for long-term building of systems and capacities, and may even counterproductively degrade existing capacity. DSG will build a model that moves beyond the business as usual to work with local partners to define specific needs. People working on the ground are best poised to know exactly how capacity can be built in their context, and they also know how they want to be engaged and what sorts of engagement strategies are successful in their cultural and institutional context.
The first iteration of the model was published with the organizational launch, and is available here.
2. Plan, develop, and implement early stages of capacity building
Leadership in creative innovation around deliberation has been extremely limited within the emerging technology space. As DSG builds a model for governance capacity building for civil society, including potential mechanisms of building sustained knowledge and its use, its implementation will be an iterative learning and trust building process. Early pilot projects regions will require robust planning, developing learning materials, cultivating a collaborative local partnership to lead the work, and incentivization for participation.
3. Collaborative deliberative polling research
DSG is co-leading a 2-year, highly collaborative and cross-institutional deliberative polling project that asks: how do climate-vulnerable communities in the Global South view SG as a possible climate change response measure, and how can these diverse perspectives improve SG science and technological development? This work will aim to answer these questions by conducting the first globally representative public engagement on SG perspectives using the Stanford online deliberative polling platform that promotes learning and engagement with other participants.
Perspectives from climate vulnerable countries must be integrated into any future decisions about research and any future use of SG. Filling this knowledge gap is critical to informing equitable policy for climate change response, including as related to if and under what conditions solar geoengineering should be considered as part of any climate change response portfolio. The few studies that do look at global public perspectives on SG are limited to small samples in 2-3 countries. This data suggests that: (1) people in climate-vulnerable communities are relatively open to the possibility of SG; and (2) diverse cultural insights into technological development can help to better understand SG’s potential contribution to human wellbeing.
The international and interdisciplinary project team consists of 10 experts in climate and SG science and governance, climate and health, science communication, and public engagement methods. The integration of these transdisciplinary experts into a single team is critical to successfully complete the project – no single individual could complete the project alone. Dr. Shuchi Talati (founder and executive director of DSG), Dr. Sikina Jinnah (Professor of Environmental Studies and Affiliated Graduate Faculty of Politics, UC Santa Cruz), and Dr. Alice Siu (Senior Research Scholar and Associate Director, Deliberative Democracy Lab, Stanford University) are co-leading this highly interdisciplinary team.
4. NetworK & community building
Network and community building is a core component of how DSG will do its work. This includes building a wide array of collaborators across multiple regions within the climate, justice, and solar geoengineering communities, working towards enabling potential partnerships, and conducting broad outreach to grow awareness.
Initially, this work requires building relationships and increasing civil society engagement, both domestically and internationally. This early, essential work is a gradual process that is foundational to subsequent planning and the success of our work. This type of careful work will allow us to build trust and craft tailored capacity building processes across different types of communities. This includes creating convening opportunities for NGOs to participate, learn, and build networks among existing organizations to enable a more open platform for discussion.