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Knowledge Integrators: Rising to the challenge of synthesizing and sharing information in the CTI

by Lourdes Margarita last modified Nov 09, 2011

In this issue of Who’s Who in the CTI, we introduce four KIs from Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, and Solomon Islands and of UniQuest’s Deputy General Manager and ask them about their perspectives on knowledge integration in the context of the CTI.

The wealth of information within the Coral Triangle presents a big challenge to individuals and organizations. How does one make sense of the massive amount of knowledge resources on the marine and coastal environment? How does one effectively communicate the value of integrating explicit (information we can write down) and tacit knowledge (what we know in our heads)?

A group of researchers working under Uniquest International Development, Australia, are performing the role of knowledge integrators (KI) in the CTI by synthesizing information from multiple sources and geographical locations, and translating these into useful packets that respond to the needs of specific users. During this process, they collaborate and coordinate with partners, build relationships, and come up with innovative ways to present and use data.

We asked the four KIs from Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, and Solomon Islands and of UniQuest’s Deputy General Manager about their views on knowledge integration and why it is important in the Coral Triangle region.

 

BEN MULLEN (Deputy General Manager, Uniquest, Australia)

  • The term “knowledge integration” might be hard to understand for some people. How do you explain what you do?

There is a huge amount of information on marine and coastal zone management that already exists and is relevant to CTI. The challenge is to access this information from the vast number of CTI stakeholders and distill the information into meaningful and useful packages for the needs of stakeholders. This is the challenge of knowledge integration.

  • What do you say to help colleagues understand the value of your work?

The information produced through the knowledge integration process is hierarchical by nature. Coastal communities need clear and simple messages that assist them to better manage their resources. This information is derived from more complex data sets compiled by scientists.

Top end stakeholders, such as policy makers, need facts upon which to base their policy decisions. Knowledge integration is an essential process in developing these briefs and information packages.

 

JOHANNES SUBIJANTO (KI, Indonesia)

  • What is the most enjoyable part of being a KI?

I have both the opportunity and the excuse to further explore various aspects and issues related to the Coral Triangle beyond my professional background. The position also facilitates meeting and knowing other people of various positions and backgrounds, consulting with and sharing ideas on how to align various elements supporting CTI. Such circumstances indirectly and directly enrich the Coral Triangle Center (CTC) training and learning team, which is my core portfolio.

  • What for you is the most challenging or critical part of knowledge integration?

Whenever I introduce myself as a KI, it always raises eyebrows, mainly because the title is a bit unusual. Also particularly since parties always think that the body of knowledge is so vast (even within the CT domain), and no one will be entitled to position oneself as its only integrator. In the meantime, many parties, particularly those with certain authorities, still perceive each aspect of knowledge as an exclusive domain in itself.

 

CHRISTINE CASAL (KI, Philippines)

  • Why is knowledge integration important in the CTI?

Knowledge integration matters in the CTI since information comes from various sources and forms, work and information are being done and generated at different levels, and all of these are connected to each other within the country and within the CTI.

  • What is the most enjoyable part of being a KI?

I get to meet and work with very dedicated people who love what they are doing and go the extra mile to make a difference, not just for their own country but for the whole of the Coral Triangle.

Cooperation among the different organizations involved has also been apparent, and NGOs and the academe (WWF, CI, MSI, WorldFish, etc.) have contributed a lot towards the goals of the NPOAs, even before the goals have been articulated in the document, probably an evidence of the organizations’ being in a synergistic relationship with the government and the CTI.

 

DELVENE BOSO (KI, Solomon Islands)

  • How do you explain your work as Knowledge Integrator?

I explain what I do to my friends and colleagues as facilitating the exchange and sharing of information for our practical use.

  • Why do you think is knowledge integration important in the CTI?

Knowledge integration matters in the CTI because there is so much to learn from each other in the CTI context, whether it be in-country or from the other CT countries. This will not be possible if we do not document and share what we know with others. This brings value to our work as we can learn, use, and adapt knowledge from the region to suit national needs and activities.

  • What for you is the most challenging or critical part of knowledge integration?

The most challenging or critical aspect of knowledge integration, especially in the context of Solomon Islands, is that often, it is hard to locate sources of information or, if it is located, is hard to obtain.

 

NURULHUDA FATAN (KI, Malaysia)

  • How do you explain what you do as KI to colleagues?

My work is mainly updating the ReefBase website on publications and online GIS map and producing the ReefBase newsletter, among others. I am also working on the Coral Triangle Atlas project, which is an online Geographical Information System (GIS) database to provide scientists and NGOs with a view of spatial data of CT6 countries at the regional scale.

  • What for you is the most challenging part of knowledge integration?

The most challenging or critical part of knowledge integration is that, sometimes, there is a lack of  knowledge sharing culture among colleagues within the organization, which is a major obstacle in implementing knowledge management strategies.