Revisiting Climate-Culture: Studying Locally-led Knowledge and Adaptation Practices for Climate Change and Development in Asia.

Current research on cultural dimensions of climate change adaptation raises the question of how far climate change-related knowledge and adaptation practices (hereafter ‘climate-cultures’) are globally transferable and applicable (Marks et al. 2022; Throsten & Mallick 2016).

On the one hand, climate change has been discussed as a driver for global cultural homogenization and the appearance of “world cultures” as the exact scientific knowledge and planning practices might be shared worldwide (Fazey et al. 2016). On the other hand, several authors provide evidence of local cultural differences in perceiving and handling climate change, leading to local limits of adaptation and inadequate transfer of climate change-related knowledge and practices (Feola et al. 2019) - which becomes a reality sui generis. This strand of research reimagines adaptation pathways as a cultural phenomenon specifically embedded in socio-cultural, institutional and ecological context. Nevertheless, even when similar scenarios exist, the cultural dimensions indicate local differences in perceiving and handling climate change emerge. From that point of view, implementing so-called “best-practice” adaptation strategies might not simply work in different cultural contexts. This is a crucial challenge for current planning-oriented research on climate change adaptation because it does not understand well how local/regional differences in ‘climate-cultures’ are rooted in policy planning.

In turn, these challenges are also the foremost hurdles to sustainable development at the time of climate change. What is required in response to these challenges is an understanding of how similarities and differences in ‘climate-cultures’ have been evolving globally and locally, depending on adaptation cultures.

This project will address the reality of climate-cultures by:

  1. Assessing methodology and discourses to characterize the climate-cultures (diversity, intensity, integrity, and replicability), and planning-institutional developments (in terms of policy mandates, capacity, and resources) under future climate conditions.
  2. Developing an international consortium. In this network, the project team will explore how far local-led adaptations are interconnected with locally shared forms of cultural knowledge, socio-ecological and planning-institutional developments in climate-vulnerable communities, and how it differs inter-generationally, intersectional and trans-locally. This will lead to the development of a position paper and a grant application on local-led adaptation strategies considering cross-sectoral trade-offs and synergies between SDGs (in terms of a south-north-south learning approach)

This project focuses on the international context, particularly Asia (Bangladesh, India, Taiwan, Vietnam, & Sri Lanka). These countries face climate-related challenges such as drought, flooding, salinity intrusion, storm surge, and sea-level rise in their coastal zones. Prevailing social, political, and institutional differences along with gender norms, power imbalances, and income disparities in all five countries amplify the precarity of lives and vulnerability to climate change, as well as local-led adaptation knowledge and practices. The science-policy network will be (re)established during this project in the selected countries.