Humans interact with their environment in manifold ways; they are changing it and in turn, are themselves changed by it. However, these human-nature relationships are increasingly becoming more complex. There is increasing acknowledgement that societal and environmental challenges require new ways of knowledge production, knowledge exchange, and decision-making. One key aspect of science, is the involvement of actors from outside academia into the research process (i.e., transdisciplinary research), in order to integrate the best available knowledge, reconcile values and preferences, as well as to create ownership of problems and solution pathways.
On this basis, the "Earth System Knowledge Platform" (ESKP) concept of the German Helmholtz Association (HGF) was initiated in 2012, which combines and synthesizes the information and knowledge of eight Institutes of the HGF within the research field "Earth and Environment" (www.eskp.de).
AWI as one of these eight institutes welcomed this opportunity and developed a unique, tailored ESKP@AWI strategy as part of its program-oriented research structure. In addition to providing scientifically-based knowledge, the various research work packages of AWI focus on target-specific translation and contextualization of the best available scientific knowledge. The central focus of the ESKP@AWI strategy is to strengthen knowledge transfer capacities in the institute whilst acting as a tool for science-stakeholder interactions initiated by AWI researchers. To this end, an internal annual “ESKP@AWI Call for Tender” was launched, which invites explorative and integrative project proposals, actively working at the science-stakeholder nexus, and with a clear focus on stakeholders and knowledge transfer. These proposals cover ideas specifically addressing new and emerging topics that are of interest to science and society alike but for which the attraction of third party funding is challenging. The ESKP@AWI Call for Tender both reflects and frames the institutional learning capacities and provides a better understanding of the opportunities, internal workings, and potential pitfalls of knowledge transfer activities and dialogues.