School event of the TICAS project (Photo: Hainan Squirrel School)

02/08/2022 | Climate change is hitting tropical coastal areas hard: sea level rise, ocean acidification, extreme climatic events, coral bleaching and death are all impacts that threaten the livelihood bases of millions of people. To tackle these challenges, relevant research evidence must also be integrated into policy and practice decisions.

In a recent article published in the Journal Environmental Science and Policy, ZMT researchers and project partners proposed a knowledge exchange framework to promote the uptake of scientific evidence by policy and practice. This framework was generated in the Sino-German collaboration project TICAS (Tackling environmental change Issues of China's coastal Aquatic Systems: networking, capacity building and knowledge exchange), which is led by Dr. Tim Jennerjahn at the ZMT.

Despite an increasing number of theoretical studies on knowledge exchange and an improved conceptual understanding, there is still very little practical guidance to design and implement research projects that actively enable knowledge exchange. This framework can address this gap by providing a standardized, practice-based conceptual tool to connect science, policy, and practice in two-way interactions. Barriers to the successful application of the framework are also discussed, which may be associated in particular with the nature of knowledge, the institutional and cultural context, and resource factors. It is also observed that relevant and accessible research evidence and the involvement of a suitable intermediary play essential roles.

“This study can help us gain a better understanding of the processes and mechanisms that govern knowledge exchange on the ground,” says Dr. Jialin Zhang, the TICAS coordinator at the ZMT. “In the next step, we will evaluate the project outcomes, in order to demonstrate the impacts of knowledge exchange efforts.”

"The interaction between science and society is mostly driven by good intentions and a strong motivation. The success of such efforts, however, is often hampered by the lack of concepts and experience.", mentions Dr. Tim Jennerjahn. "This is where our framework comes in and provides practical guidance."

ZMT's Office for Knowledge Exchange (OKE) builds capacities and supports knowledge exchange conceptually and practically. Rebecca Lahl, the head of OKE, says "TICAS, a flagship project for knowledge exchange at ZMT, provides us with room to thoroughly plan for stakeholder engagement, experiment with different knowledge exchange techniques and evaluate them. It is not only us, but also our Chinese partners and the stakeholders who explore and learn."


Zhang, Jialin, Bevis Fedder, Daoru Wang, and Tim C. Jennerjahn. 2022. A knowledge exchange framework to connect research, policy, and practice, developed through the example of the Chinese island of Hainan, Environmental Science & Policy, 136: 530-41.