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Local climate initiatives in the field of tension between regional preconditions, national policies and global programs

A subproject in the BMBF-funded joint project "Social Climate Change Impacts and Sustainability Innovation in Southern Africa and Northern South America" (NISANSA)

Foto: Daniela Triml-Chifflard

The question of adequate social responses to climate change impacts is one of the central challenges for the future. Western discourses mostly focus on the global North and individual iconic regions such as the Arctic or Pacific island states. But what are the climate change impacts faced by countries in the global South? How do they address climate change and its consequences, what are the social consequences, and what options exist for responding to them? What programs and institutional structures are being used to address climate change, and what practices of sustainable action are emerging in the process?

In a total of seven subprojects, the interdisciplinary joint project between Philipps-Universität Marburg and Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen has been investigating these questions in countries in southern Africa (Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa) and northern South America (Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela) since July 2021. The aim is to generate sound knowledge on the social consequences of climate change impacts in these regions in a transregional and comparative perspective. In this way, the project aims to systematically supplement current climate research with regional and social science perspectives in order to also take into account political and cultural transformation processes as well as associated uncertainties, new areas of conflict, but also innovations and creative responses in the primarily natural science-based debate.

One of the seven subprojects is located at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology. We are particularly interested in strategies of action and forms of knowledge of local climate initiatives in Pará (Brazil), Magdalena (Colombia) and Niassa (Mozambique). We want to find out which strategies such initiatives pursue in these three regions and which forms of knowledge they use to do so, but also how global programs and national policies for climate change impact adaptation are implemented and work at the local and regional level. What tensions arise in this complex structure between actors, their projects and forms of knowledge? What synergies emerge and what challenges and potentials for sustainability innovation are revealed?

Over the next three years, we will empirically investigate these questions through ethnographic field research, problem-centered expert interviews, and content analysis of programs, public discourses, and established adaptation measures.

BMBF-funded joint project leader Prof. Dr. Simone Strambach, Prof. Dr. Ernst Halbmayer und Prof. Dr. Jörn Ahrens
Sub-project leader "Local Climate Initiatives"  Prof. Dr. Ernst Halbmayer
Scientific assistent: Dr. Michaela Meurer
Student assistant: Johanna Hofmann
Duration: 2021 – 2024
Financing: Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF); Förderlinie Regionalstudien