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Podcast: Critiquing knowledge co-production in disaster risk reduction

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Podcast: Critiquing knowledge co-production in disaster risk reduction

In this episode of the SEI Asia podcast series Environment and Policy in Asia, we speak to Minh Tran and Dayoon Kim of SEI Asia, who reflect on their work in climate and disaster research to critique knowledge co-production and find ways for research, policy and action to be more equitable.

Rajesh Daniel / Published on 29 February 2024

As the number of climate-related disasters escalates – almost 400% in the last few decades – it is often the poor, ethnic, and marginalized communities who suffer the brunt of these climate impacts.

Disaster studies have pointed to unequal risk and vulnerability; normative progress has been made recognizing this in policies and international frameworks.

Yet the burden of disasters continues to fall on marginalized communities.

One key reason, according to SEI authors Minh Tran and Dayoon Kim, is that “disaster studies and disaster risk reduction (DRR) favor “expert” knowledge, predominantly Western-driven, science-based, and technocratic, over that of embodied, grounded, lived knowledge of local and Indigenous peoples.” As such, climate vulnerability’s more structural and systemic causes remain unaddressed.

In their recent paper, “Co-production revisited: from knowledge plurality to action for disaster risk reduction,” they point out how knowledge co-production needs to be critiqued and politicized so that disaster studies can situate local and Indigenous knowledge at its center.

Their interest in, and motivation for critiquing, knowledge co-production came from their own work in which “encountering a lot of different lived experiences and perspectives during our work … boiled down to the question of whose knowledge matters … and which type of knowledge counts when we talk about science and science to policy.”

Minh said: “We would encounter indigenous peoples and their knowledge, local communities who may have a different experience of things and through those experiences developed different knowledge systems.”

Both agreed that there is a greater acknowledgment in disaster studies, policy discussions, and international frameworks of the needs and perspectives of local knowledge, especially in disaster risk reduction (DRR) work. However, there continue to be existing structures that prioritize certain types of knowledge and validate such knowledge as morescientific. This marginalizes and discounts other ways of thinking and knowing.

Co-production of knowledge itself needs to go beyond just knowledge space, and to find meaningful benefits for the communities … where it's not just creation of knowledge, but the knowledge has to change and lead to action that can benefit the community.

Dayoon Kim, Research Associate at SEI Asia

Minh also views that knowledge co-production needs to recognize who we are in the world, as that influences how we see and experience it. When people face impacts of development projects, they are also involved in resistance.

Being in the position of resistance also influences how they experience and see the world, and that means knowledge and wisdom is coming out of those lived experiences as well. And that makes it also a distinct kind of knowledge that’s important to consider since climate change and disaster issues are complex political, developmental, and socioeconomic issues.

Minh Tran, Research Fellow at SEI Asia

This is an excerpt of a podcast conversation with SEI Asia’s Minh Tran and Dayoon Kim for the SEI Asia podcast series “Environment and Policy in Asia.”

Listen to the podcast below:

Featured by

Dayoon Kim

Research Associate

SEI Asia

Profile picture of Minh Tran
Minh Tran

Research Fellow

SEI Asia

Podcast producers

Rajesh Daniel

Head of Communications, SEI Asia


SEI Asia

Charmaine Caparas

Communications Manager


SEI Asia

Variya Plungwatana

Communications Assistant


SEI Asia

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