Anthropology, Weather & Climate Change

Health and climate change: Connecting sectors and interventions
Location Senate House - Woburn Room
Date and Start Time 27 May, 2016 at 11:30
Sessions 3


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Short Abstract

This cross-sectoral Round Table will discuss how interventions for climate change and for health could support each other. Panellists will describe the contributions of anthropology to local and non-local processes while engaging the audience through posing questions to them.

Long Abstract

Two Lancet Commissions on climate change and health have been published, the first suggesting that climate change is an immense health threat and the second suggesting that climate change is an immense health opportunity. Both presented top-down, international perspectives with limited anthropological and community-based input. Meanwhile, ethnographic work has identified local health impacts of climate change. Examples are mental health problems increasing in isolated Arctic communities as their environment changes and environmental health degradation leading to local food difficulties as low-lying island freshwater supplies become salinised. Both the second Lancet Commission and community-based work in affected locations have indicated not only how climate change has detrimental health impacts, but also how health interventions are suitable for addressing climate change and vice versa, yielding opportunities to address them simultaneously.

This session proposes a Round Table examining the connections amongst local and wider-scale approaches for linking health and climate change while using climate change as an opportunity to improve health and using health interventions to deal with climate change (applying to mitigation and adaptation). The Round Table would be cross-sectoral, with one representative each from academia, government (any level), a non-profit, private enterprise, and an affected community. Each panellist's task would be (i) answering the question "For you, how would interventions for climate change support health outcomes and vice versa?", (ii) describing how anthropological or ethnographic contributions support both community-based and large-scale processes for linking health and climate change, and (iii) posing a question on which the audience could advise.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


Rising Tides: exploring islander-led responses to climate change in a post-Pam Vanuatu

Author: Hannah Fair (University College London)  email

Short Abstract

An exploration of proactive responses to climate change in Vanuatu by civil society groups and government. I investigate ideas of self-blame and responsibility, anger and climate justice, and the compatibility between climate adaptation narratives and existing cultural frameworks.

Long Abstract

Following the destruction of Tropical Cyclone Pam, and in anticipation of COP21, the need to listen to and take leadership from local island voices has never been more imperative. Taking seriously Farbotko's argument that we must move beyond the 'wishful sinking' of drowning island discourses, I explore what proactive responses and understandings of climate change look like in the Small Island Developing State of Vanuatu.

Based upon fieldwork conducted post-Pam, I explore climate mitigation, advocacy and adaptation initiatives adopted at government, civil society and community levels, highlighting what characterises and what constrains the spaces of climate action. I identify the ambivalent role of biblical teachings, utilised by some as a means for comprehending our ecological conditions, but eschewed by others. I interrogate whose voices can be heard and how, examining the relationship of civil society and state, and the extent to which there is a flow of climate understandings between 'grassroots' and government.

I question the extent of Islanders' feelings of anger and self-blame in relation to climate justice, drawing comparisons with Rudiak-Gould's problematisation of narratives of responsibility in the Marshall Islands. I also investigate Rudiak-Gould's notions of promiscuous corroboration, examining the extent to which widespread acceptance of anthropogenic climate change can be understood as a consequence of its compatibility with pre-existing cultural understandings. Consequently I encounter questions of urbanisation, agricultural decline and the power of kastom to shape weather patterns. Throughout I emphasise the importance of identifying and working to amplify Islander-led approaches to climate change in SIDS.

Impacts of landscape change on community well being in small island contexts

Author: Charlotte Eloise Stancioff (Leiden University)  email

Short Abstract

This research focuses on landscape change in the two islands of St. Kitts and Dominica in the Caribbean. The aim is to assess the man-made and natural changes through a multi-scalar and time sensitive approach that analyzes subsequent effects on community well being.

Long Abstract

While diverse in cultural life, history and landscape, some Caribbean islands experience pronounced vulnerability due to their small size, often exacerbating land degradation, development pressure and a range of natural and man-made calamities. The resulting implications of these factors are at times debilitating for localities as connections between place and community are broken. Landscape change has affected not only the natural ecology, but also the customary practices and traditions that play an integral part in the fabric of communities, more specifically perceived as well-being. To illustrate the resulting impacts on local communities in terms of their environment and perceived well-being, research was conducted in rural areas of St. Kitts and Dominica.

In these two case studies, investigation into landscape change and subsequent impacts on community well being are explored by combining GIS, remote sensing and ethnographic analysis (including community perspectives) to link environmental research with local knowledge. To better understand the interaction between community and ecology in rural areas, the analysis has focused on land use, land cover change, land and water management and community views. Through community response to their changing environment, new outlooks are drawn on the consideration of the effects of landscape change on community well being in socio-ecological resiliency.

The research is part of the ERC-Synergy NEXUS 1492 project directed by Prof. dr. Corinne L. Hofman and funded by the European Research Council / ERC grant agreement n° 319209

A Vulnerability/Resilience Framework with a Special Focus on Small Island States

Authors: Lino Briguglio (University of Malta)  email
Stefano Moncada (University of Malta)  email

Short Abstract

We propose a framework which is built on the distinction between inherent factors that are associated with exposure of an inhabited territory to the harmful climate change and policy induced factors that reduce or exacerbate the harmful effects of climate change, with a focus on small island states

Long Abstract

Vulnerability, as used in this study, refers to the inherent predisposition of a community that render it susceptible to the harmful effects of climate change. Referring to small island states, the study identifies one such factor as the relatively high ratio of the coastal area to the land mass. Apart from sea-level, rise, small island states are likely to experience various other harmful effects of climate change including extreme weather events, water issues and increased health risks from air borne diseases. These will also impact larger territories, but the high population dynamics of many small islands and their limited resources endowments are likely to result in higher impacts on small islands and higher per capita costs, when compared to larger territories.

The resilience side of the argument relates to what can be done, policy-wise, to strengthen the ability of a community to cope with or withstand the effects of climate change, enabling it to survive, recover from, and even possibly improve their condition (Agard et al., 2014). A number of such policy responses mentioned by Nurse et al. (2014) include:

• Facilitating adaptation and avoiding maladaptation, which includes technical and financial support;

• Integration of adaptation into development plans and policies;

• Encouragement of participatory stakeholder involvement in adaptation measures;

• Improving risk knowledge within communities.

The paper proposes a methodology which juxtaposes vulnerability and resilience to classify communities in terms of the risk they face of being harmed by climate change.

Ground truthing assumptions of climate change impacts on small island states.

Author: Rory Walshe (Kings College London / UCL)  email

Short Abstract

This presentation details a novel methodological approach for ground truthing assumptions about climate change impacts, adaptation and long term environmental change on small islands, for a proposed research project comparing Mauritius and Tobago.

Long Abstract

It is generally accepted that the impacts of climate change on small islands are already being experienced in a range of manifestations. However, recent research suggests that some assumptions, such as the impact of sea‐level rise, are incorrect. There is limited empirical data available to delineate climate change impacts from either cyclic/baseline changes or other factors, a significant limitation in terms of climate change attribution. Therefore there is great potential value in understanding how communities perceive long-term environmental change, both for understanding climate change impacts and the implications this has for how communities are responding and will respond to expected changes.

I am proposing a methodological approach that will form the basis of this research. This will investigate the perceptions of long-term environmental change in two case study locations using in-depth interviews. It will cross-reference and analyse this interview data with novel sources such as archival/historical records, traditional knowledge, photographic evidence and cultural narratives of climate, in conjunction with existing survey data and remote sensing data. In this way, this proposed methodological approach aims to ground‐truth the assumptions surrounding climate change impacts and community response.

The two proposed Small Island field sites are Mauritius and Tobago, allowing for comparative lessons to be drawn from the Indian Ocean and Caribbean. Aside from a small number of similar studies and some baseline material this proposed methodological approach is original and unique.

The Framework for Pacific Regionalism: Regional governance of climate change and health in Pacific islands countries

Author: Linda Siegele (University College London)  email

Short Abstract

This paper highlights the role of regional governance in Pacific islands countries, focusing specifically on the treatment of matters related to climate change and health.

Long Abstract

"..a region of peace, harmony, security, social inclusion, and prosperity, so that all Pacific people can lead free, healthy, and productive lives".

Vision Statement, Framework for Pacific Regionalism

The Framework for Pacific Regionalism is the master strategy for strengthening cooperation and integration between the states and territories of the Pacific region. It articulates the vision, values and objectives of an enhanced Pacific regionalism, and sets out a process for identifying regional public policy priorities.

The Framework rests on beliefs that deeper regionalism will help increase socio-economic and development prospects, expand market opportunities, improve service delivery, and contribute to security and good governance for Pacific people and for the region as a whole. It aims to streamline the Pacific regional agenda and ensure that Pacific Islands leaders have high level, political conversations on the Pacific's regional priorities.

The Framework presents four high-level strategic objectives for regionalism: sustainable development; equitable and inclusive economic growth; strengthened governance; and security. It specifies a robust process for setting regional priorities and for measuring progress in pursuing regionalism.

This paper will consider Pacific climate change and health policies and the relationship between the two. It will then make a preliminary assessment of the added value of treating these two issues at the regional level in the Pacific, within the context of the Framework for Pacific Regionalism.

Integrating Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation Risk Governance: Is it achieving sustainability in Barbados?

Author: Nicole Greenidge (University of Manchester)  email

Short Abstract

This paper focuses on the integrated approaches to Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation or DRR-CCA in SIDS. The absence of an overarching framework and shallow engagement of community, scientific, and social sectors were found to reduce potential development gains from DRR-CCA.

Long Abstract

Integrating Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation is arguably the most rational approach for addressing hazards of common interest from future and current climate extremes. Whilst the approach has had some traction in Small Island Developing States (SIDS), it has made limited marked reductions in risk due to operational deficiency at the national level. Reasons for this include limited resources and challenges with governance; however the effect of deficiencies in processes that govern how risk is managed for DRR-CCA has not been reviewed in the context of SIDS. Using the case of Barbados, this paper focuses on the integrated approaches to Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) or DRR-CCA in SIDS. The paper is based on a thematic analysis of 40 interviews, surveys, and observations with representatives of 27 CCA and DRR organisations operating at different levels. The absence of an overarching framework and shallow engagement of community, scientific, private and social sectors were found to reduce potential development gains from DRR-CCA. At all levels it was found that misconceptions concerning roles, mandates, and required inputs were inhibiting progress in deriving sustainability. A prevailing response culture and an embryonic risk reduction discourse that had not sufficiently transitioned beyond development planning control were found to hinder DRR-CCA. Notwithstanding this it was found that providing response connections was a necessary bridge for effective DRR-CCA.

Including Tourism Enterprises to Finance Climate Change Adaptation: Exploring the Potential in Small Island Developing States

Authors: Janto Hess (University College London)  email
Ilan Kelman (UCL)  email

Short Abstract

The paper investigates mechanisms to involve the tourism sector in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in climate adaptation finance.

Long Abstract

Worldwide tourism is one of the largest global industries and the main economic sector of many Small Island Development States (SIDS). However, the tourism industry in SIDS could be adversely affected by climate change impacts, such as sea level rise or intensified extreme weather events—along with some potential opportunities. The impact magnitude, geographical attributes, and economic dependencies on tourism markets make many SIDS particularly vulnerable and resilient thus making them likely to face significant adaptation costs. In the UNFCCC negotiations SIDS were declared to receive prioritization in funding for adaptation from international climate finance. Part of this funding is supposed to come from the private sector. Based on these assumptions, this paper focusses on exploring different participatory opportunities of the tourism industry to finance climate change adaptation in SIDS and seeks to estimate advantages and barriers of certain fiscal and political instruments. It reveals that there is an overall high potential to involve the tourism industry in adaptation finance, for example via mechanisms such as adaptation taxes, insurance schemes, or disaster risk reduction measures. Regional or local adaptation funds appear to be particularly suitable. However, the adaptive capacity of industry stakeholders, operational scales, and customer demands are key determining factors in shaping this potential. Some investments by multinational tourism corporations could be accredited to international adaptation finance in theory, but only tight regulations and clear definitions of adaptation measures would avoid potential misuse of such finance.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.