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Participatory mapping for adaptation to climate change: the case of Boe Boe, Solomon Islands

Piccolella, Antonella. “Participatory Mapping for Adaptation to Climate Change: the Case of Boe Boe, Solomon Islands.” Knowledge Management for Development Journal 9.1 (2013): 1–13. Web. http://journal.km4dev.org/index.php/km4dj/article/view/133

p.1: Critics of top-down, expert-driven approaches to adaptation suggest the need for tools and methods capable of addressing the gap between scientific and local understanding of climate change. After a lengthy period in which participatory mapping in the context of climate change was overlooked, attention has now turned to Participatory Three-Dimensional Modelling (P3DM) for adaptation planning. P3DM consists in a community-based process resulting in a 3D-scaled and geo-referenced relief model. Because of its relative accuracy and the possibility of being translated to Geographic Information Systems (GIS), P3DM adds credibility to locally produced content and provides a platform for multi-stakeholder dialogue. Through the analysis of a case study in Boe Boe, Solomon Islands, this paper explores how P3DM may be utilised for integrating indigenous and scientific knowledge systems while minimising risks that perverse power dynamics will jeopardise the effectiveness of the participatory process. This paper combines results from literature analysis with interviews. -- Highlighted mar 22, 2014

p.1: Public participation has been on the climate agenda since 1992. However, issues of participation and inclusive governance have often been dealt with uncritically (Few et al. 2007). This paper uses the case of Boe Boe in the Solomon Islands to investigate the potential of P3DM for adaptation planning, and identifies the conditions necessary for an effective and meaningful participatory process. It offers not only an original contribution to the debate on adaptation but also to that on public participation, in particular to studies concerned with the ‘tyranny of participation’ (Cooke and Kothari, 2001:3). -- Highlighted mar 22, 2014

p.2: It is not surprising that scientists framed the climate change problem in biophysical terms and based their assessments upon a deterministic chain of causal relationships. This approach oversimplifies the complex effects of climate change and ignores issues of community vulnerability, capacity and resilience. -- Highlighted mar 22, 2014

p.3: The idea of climate change as a global problem displaces the notion of community. Firstly, it bolsters the idea of a ‘unitary and not a differentiated “we”’ suffering equally from the impact of climate change (Taylor and Buttel, 1992:406). Secondly, it encourages a fatalist approach where affected parties are ‘spectators’ or passive victims (ibid.). Expert-driven approaches have contributed to a narrative linking ‘extraordinary’, ‘un-predictable’, and ‘un-certain’ phenomena to regions described as ‘under-developed’, ‘over-populated’, ‘un-informed’, and ‘un-prepared’ (Gaillard, 2010:221). According to this interpretation, expert-driven approaches have favoured the disempowerment of affected communities (Polack 2008.17). -- Highlighted mar 22, 2014

p.4: Maps have been used to make visible and legitimate the invisible complex environmental knowledge, needs and claims of people disenfranchised and misrepresented. (Rochelau in Brosius et al. 2005:328) -- Highlighted mar 22, 2014

p.5: Outsiders may negatively affect the process by taking up people’s time, raising expectations, extracting information for their own benefit (for example, favouring biopiracy, mining or logging activities), or extracting information to be used against participants. Fox et al. (IIED 2006:103) report the experience of a woman in Indonesia who facilitated the mapping of her village for the purpose of selling the land to foreigners. The ethical implications of mapping do not exclusively relate to what to map, but also who to map with and where (Gaillard, 2011 pers.comm). For example, women’s decision to take part in such a process may lead to them being beaten by their husbands. Finally, outsiders’ choices and attitudes can influence internal power dynamics. -- Highlighted mar 22, 2014

p.6: Chambers (1994a) advises against considering participation intrinsically good regardless of who participates and who gains. -- Highlighted mar 22, 2014

p.6: Achieving integration of indigenous and scientific knowledge seems necessary, but it can be hampered by mistrust and suspicion among the stakeholders involved (Huq and Reid 2003; IIED 2009; Gaillard 2010). Scientists often see local knowledge as subjective, intangible, unscientific and therefore invalid. They find it difficult to understand a form of knowledge that is ‘embedded in local history, local memory and local networks’ (Gaillard, 2011 pers.comm.). At the same time, however, many communities exhibit little confidence in scientific data. The necessary integration of such diverse worldviews can be possible if adequate tools and methodologies are available for multi-stakeholder dialogue. These tools would allow scientific data to be verified against local data, and provide a medium for local communities to communicate credibly with policy-makers. At the same time, climate information should be conveyed at the local level in a culturally compatible way without causing confusion and anxiety (van Aalst et al. 2008). -- Highlighted mar 22, 2014

p.9: The case study seems to be in line with the ‘3Ts’ rule: transparency and time as a condition for trust (IIED 2006:16). A successful interaction with the community was possible because the P3DM process formed part of an engagement developed over the last fifteen years. The long-term commitment in the area has led to a deeper understanding of community needs and expectations as well as a process of confidence building. The fact that many of the people working for TNC are from Choiseul Province, as well as the intermediation of the Lauru Land Conference of Tribal Communities (LLCTC) – a trusted and recognized organisation – have contributed to a strong relationship. Preliminary workshops and meetings were instrumental in not raising expectations. The fact that everybody, including TNC staff, could speak Pijin helped overcoming language barriers. A decision to hold most of the meetings in the evening in order to avoid disrupting people’s daily activities was also important. -- Highlighted mar 22, 2014

p.10: …participatory spaces are not neutral: they are created spaces that provide opportunities for agency and inclusion but also exclusion. (Ayers, 2011:66) -- Highlighted mar 22, 2014

p.11: Further research is necessary in order to overcome technical barriers to the integration of indigenous and scientific knowledge such as the downscaling of climate information to a scale compatible with community information as visualised on the relief model. Despite the complexity offered by GIS, models or maps are not suitable for visualising information such as client-patron relationships, gender-related inequalities or the importance of social networks. Both favourable and potentially perverse power dynamics should be anticipated and taken into account when doing map work. -- Highlighted mar 22, 2014