If the AAPs are interested in promoting a culture of reflexive learning about 'Engagement', this article, by discussing how learning processes have shaped emergent communities of practice in another evolving field -climate change - may offer ideas. One point strongly made is that whilst 'learning' has been a development buzz word for almost twenty years, it is seldom built in to programme design or given real organisational clout.
In fields like climate and development, where the challenges being addressed can be described as “wicked”, learning is key to successful programming. Useful practical and theoretical work is being undertaken to better understand the role of reflexive learning in bringing together different knowledge to address complex problems like climate change. Through a review of practical cases and learning theories commonly used in the areas of resilience, climate change adaptation and environmental management, this article: (i) reviews the theories that have shaped approaches to reflexive learning in large, highly-distributed climate change and resilience-building programmes for development; and (ii) conducts a comparative learning review of key challenges and lessons emerging from early efforts to promote and integrate reflexive learning processes in programmes of this nature. Using a case study approach, the authors focus on early efforts made in four large, inter-related (or nested) programmes to establish, integrate and sustain learning processes and systems. Eight themes emerged from the review and are considered from the perspective of learning programmes as emergent communities of practice. By investigating how these themes play out in the nested programming, the paper contributes to the limited existing body of evidence on learning in large climate change programmes and identifies areas where future efforts might focus.