Indigenous Peoples & Local Communities and Climate Change

André Braga Junqueira
Email address: 
Proposal Type: 
Live 75 minute session - which includes 6 speakers/discussant timeslots.
Session Date and Time: 
Thursday, 13 May, 2021 - 09:00 to 10:15

Climate change is one of the greatest current challenges for humankind. Impacts of climate change in multiple dimensions of socio-ecological systems are increasingly acknowledged, and are expected to intensify in the future. Due to their close interaction with nature and historical marginalization, Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLC) are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. On the other hand, it is also through their long-term and intimate interaction with the environment that IPLC developed their rich local ecological knowledge, which enables them to recognize, interpret and react to a changing climate and its consequences.

In this session, we will share recent advances in interdisciplinary research conducted in different regions of the globe addressing multiple dimensions of the relationships between IPLC and climate change. Particularly, we aim to advance our understanding of how lPLC perceive climate change, its drivers and its impacts on local livelihoods, what are the adaptations that are put in practice to mitigate climate change impacts, and how local ecological knowledge can be mobilized and articulated to promote resilient and healthy socio-ecological systems under a changing climate.

Presentation format: 
Oral (pre-recorded)
, Mirali

Community resilience in the face of drastic environmental change requires a deeper understanding of the struggles being felt most dramatically, at a local level.

Indigenous peoples have a vital role to play in environmental conservation, yet are often disproportionately affected by environmental changes, human rights abuses, civil conflict, land-stakeholder issues, and more resulting from environmental disruption. Many indigenous communities live in some of the most biodiverse regions and are frontline agents of change for biodiversity conservation. Moreover, the strengths of indigenous communities as conservation and development partners include their histories, abilities, knowledge, and locally-adapted cultures.

We examine this further by interviewing members of indigenous communities globally in order to hear their perspectives and further understand how to integrate indigenous, local, and marginalized communities into the environmental discourse. This first-person perspective, recorded discourse will be occuring between members of the Finnish Sámi, Ainu, Māori, and Ni’Vanuatu communities.

Presentation format: 
Oral (live)
Braga Junqueira
, André - Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain
, Álvaro - University of Helsinki, Finland
, Miquel - University of Helsinki, Finland
Lokono Hara
, Paul - Member of the Daasanach community
Guol Naasak
, Job - Member of the Daasanach community
, Daniel - University of Jyväskylä, Finland
, Sara - University of Helsinki, Finland
, Mar - University of Helsinki, Finland
, Victoria - Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

Changes that affect water resources are particularly relevant for subsistence-based peoples, and climate change is expected to amplify existing stresses in water availability. We look into the perceptions of environmental change expressed by the Daasanach people of North Kenya, where the impacts of climate change overlap with those brought by large infrastructure projects. Daasanach understand changes in different elements of the social-ecological system as the outcome of interactions between climatic and non-climatic drivers of change. Our results highlight the perceived synergistic effects of climate change and infrastructure projects in water resources, driving cascading impacts on local livelihoods. Local Ecological Knowledge can enhance the understanding of the impacts of environmental change in local communities. To minimize and mitigate the socio-ecological impacts of development projects, it is essential to consider potential synergies between climatic and socio-economic factors and to ensure participatory processes incorporating local understandings of environmental change.

Presentation format: 
Oral (live)

The local perception of climate change and the process that leads IPLCs to their adaptation strategy still unknown. However, this is crucial to grasp local responses, stakes and predict future trends. To fill this gap, we worked with Betsileo peoples (Madagascar), a group of farmers deeply impacted by seasonal shifts. We adopted a holistic approach exploring widely the concept of changes and the multiple aspects involved in Betsileo’s understanding of climate change their adaptation strategies. Our results show that for Betsileo, climate change is not only the result of a bioclimatic process but is also the consequence of people’s failure to comply with traditional rules and taboos. Consequently, to cope with climate change, Betsileos adopted a mixed adaptation strategy relying on technical and magico-religious responses. Such complex biocultural mesh must be studied with a holistic and multidisciplinary approach in order to fully understand the dynamics of local responses to climate change.

Presentation format: 
Oral (live)
, Megan - The Pennsylvania State University
, Jennifer - University of California, Berkeley
, Daniel - University of California, Berkeley
, Frank - US Forest Service
, Shawn - Karuk Department of Natural Resources

In the Klamath River Basin (KRB) of northern California and southern Oregon, climate-related challenges have contributed to increasingly unpredictable plant reproduction and harvest cycles. In this paper, we explore relationships between plants and Indigenous people in the KRB, identifying how climate change is influencing these social-ecological systems through the framework of cultural ecosystem services (CES) derived from Indigenous stewardship and gathering of cultural plants. This study contributes to the conceptualization of Indigenous Cultural Ecosystem Services, providing a framework for the incorporation of Indigenous concepts, approaches and perspectives into assessments of ecosystem services. It highlights the value of Indigenous Knowledge (IK) systems in understanding how climate change affects plant reproduction and productivity, and discusses how climate change has and will likely influence CES and resulting benefits. Acknowledging IK and practices as human services for ecosystems can contribute to the resilience of ecosystems and the food security and wellbeing of Indigenous communities. 

Presentation format: 
Oral (live)
, Carolina - UNIVERSIDAD MILITAR NUEVA GRANADA/ Assistant professor

Small farmers in underdeveloped countries are inordinately affected by climate change. We address the perceptions and adaptation strategies to climate change of a group of smallholders in highland Andes-Colombia. We conducted interviews with 27 smallholders. According to smallholders, climate change is manifested by an alteration in the season, amount and frequency of rainfall, frost, droughts, etc. Smallholders practiced on-farm and off-farm adaptation strategies. They practiced 14 on-farm strategies, among which the most reported were polyculture, water management and soil conservation. We also found a great diversity of crops (47 species and 79 varieties), and varied smallholder perceptions of these crops to climate variability resistance. The relevant off-farm strategies were: land tenure, more adaptation strategies applied by owners than tenants; and smallholders’ associations, sharing similar strategies. Smallholders are adapting to climate change by employing the tools that are available to them, largely without public institutional and private sector participation.

Presentation format: 
Oral (pre-recorded)
, Julia Vieira da Cunha - PhD candidate - National Research Institute for Amazonia/Mamirauá Institute
, Charles Roland - National Research Institute for Amazonia
, André Braga - Autonomous University of Barcelona
, Tamara - University of Hawaii at Manoa
, Angela May - Federal University of Pará / Mamirauá Institute

In Amazonia, changes in the frequency and intensity of extreme climate events are occurring and expected to intensify, with subsequent social and political problems. We conducted semi-structured interviews in six communities of the mid-Solimões River basin (Amazonas, Brazil), with questions designed to understand climatic patterns, changes in livelihood activities and identify their adaptation strategies in new climatic contexts. During extreme events ribeirinhos intensify adaptation strategies, such as avoiding stress to fruit-tree root systems, prioritizing plants that survive flooding and working in less affected landscapes. Some strategies are historical practices of resource management, such as building soil mounds or wooden fences to protect plants from flooding, and the temporary storage of manioc roots underwater. Ribeirinhos recognize that climatic unpredictability hinders effective planning of subsistence activities, because their local knowledge is no longer fully reliable. The documentation and sharing of some strategies was suggested as a way to increase their resilience.