Events: international community-based adaptation conference showcases knowledge exchange

International conferences on community-based adaptation (CBA) enable practitioners, governments and donors to share latest developments and best practice.

Article, 21 August 2017
Evidence of impact: evaluating our communications
A series of case studies evaluating our communications activities
Delegates at the 10th international conference on community-based adaptation (Photo: ICCCAD, Creative Commons via Flickr)

The CBA conferences bring together practitioners and researchers from around the world (Photo: ICCCAD, Creative Commons via Flickr)

The 10th International Conference on Community-Based Adaptation (CBA10) was held from 21-28 April 2016 in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

The theme of the conference was 'Enhancing urban community resilience' and was in association with the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS), the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD), and the Independent University, Bangladesh (IUB). 

CBA10 was an opportunity to showcase the legacy of previous CBA conferences and IIED's urban work, focusing on urban community resilience. It provided a good opportunity to make a stronger connection between these two bodies of work.

Our communications strategy planned to use a combination of push and pull methods to: 

  • Mobilise new (and former) audiences to register and help us meet the targets we had set 
  • Raise the profile of each partner, and
  • Support the wider event objectives of influencing national and regional policy change.

We promoted CBA10 through cross-organisational networks and created a buzz around the event with a 10th anniversary collection of digital content, including a photofilm.

We cut back on producing daily content – a decision based on analysis of the cost effectiveness and impact of certain activities in the previous year. We still produced a daily Storify round-up and helped local volunteers produce a series of video interviews. There were also video interviews with speakers and several blogs during and after the conference.

Did we achieve our aims?

As part of the evaluation of the event, we looked at whether we had achieved our communication aims and what the impact of logistical issues was on engagement at the event and afterwards.

Day 1 was super cool; lots of learning and fun; the closing act really touched me; true reflection of the plight of urban migrants! − CBA10 attendee

We analysed the effectiveness of advertising via Google to draw people in to the registration form, for example. We looked at the gender make-up of attendees and event panellists, the extent of Twitter engagement, and whether new Twitter followers had a special interest in the theme (to see if we were capturing the attention of relevant audiences who might not already know about CBA).

We realised that our 'hyper targeting' of potential audiences and our early planning contributed to us meeting and exceeding the registration targets we had set ourselves.

We achieved 16 pieces of local media coverage on TV and radio, raising the profile of the local partners. The participant posters explaining their work received almost 200 views each on Flickr on average, making them a good use of resource – the posters could be used extensively on social media as well as being displayed at the event to attendees.

There was poor internet connectivity at the venue a lot of the time, but having dedicated team support in London reduced the impact of this.

Missed opportunities?

The fact that the IIED stand was not staffed throughout the event meant we probably missed opportunities to talk to people directly, share our publications and find out more about their motivation for attending.

When the post-event evaluation survey was delayed, this limited the chance for us to immediately find out more about what participants thought of the event while it was still fresh in their minds.

One of our objectives for CBA10 was to build capacity for the local partner around event planning and execution. We supported volunteers from ICCCAD to make videos, connect with the media, create content for social media, and promote the event.

Learning for the future

Learning about what had worked well and what not so well influenced how we planned for CBA11 in 2017. When there were queries about tactics and the resources required, the fact that we could refer back to the evidence from the year before (and in fact, to two previous evaluations) to show how we had arrived at the plan, helped with making the case for our proposal.