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Adaptation Webinar

Friday, November 30, 2012 - 2:00pm to 3:00pm

Title: Demonstrating the Utility of a Participatory Approach to Understanding Social-ecological Vulnerability and Adaptive Capacity for Responding to Climate Change

Abstract: Two case studies will be presented that demonstrate the value of working closely with community stakeholders to analyze their social-ecological systems' vulnerability and adaptation to climate change. The analytical framework and approach of these studies was a regional scale, place-based, participatory Vulnerability and Adaptive Capacity Assessment (VA) -- one in the Koyukuk-Middle Yukon region of interior Alaska, and the other in the Yampa-White Basins region of northwest Colorado. This approach employs historical data and social science methods to establish baseline social-ecological vulnerability and adaptive capacity, which establishes a foundation for the analysis of future climate risks and thereby contributes to practical adaptation planning. VA assessment entails understanding the phenomena and main processes involved in the social-ecological system and identifying relationships and key resources susceptible to harm from climate change (e.g., food, financial, or energy resources). It also includes understanding the seasonality of livelihoods and resource management decisions, which determines how and why climate is meaningful to people. This approach followed the model set forth by Smit and Wandel (2006) where problems and determinants of vulnerability are not determined a priori, but rather co-produced in partnership with the stakeholders themselves. In using this iterative approach, unexpected discoveries arose in both cases that led to refinement of the research questions and data analyzed. This, in turn, guides the research in a way that makes the results more meaningful and useful to the stakeholders themselves for understanding their own vulnerabilities to climate change and for devising appropriate adaptation strategies.


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