Science-driven, community-based approaches for enhanced climate change adaptation capacity

“Science-driven, community-based approaches for enhanced climate change adaptation capacity” consisted of eight (8) presentations on case studies from Mexico, the Pamirs, Nepal, Bolivia, China, and Peru.  Although case study tools and methods ranged from the purely physical (e.g., determining the cause of the Seti flood in Nepal in May 2012) to more integrated, interdisciplinary approaches (e.g., the development of local adaptation plans of action in Nepal and Peru), all had one thing in common, i.e., the results of scientific research can be effectively integrated into community consultation and research processes in ways that result in better overall project outcomes.  Secondly, rather than conduct the research in isolation and then sharing results, most of the presentations also demonstrated that the overall process was much more effective if stakeholders (e.g., campesinos in the Bolivian highlands, village people of Nepal and Peru, an ecotourism NGO in Mexico, government officials in downstream areas impacted by floods) were directly involved in the research activities (physical and social) from the very beginning.  This normally leads to a feeling of buy-in, ownership, and support from stakeholder groups who, as demonstrated in several of the case studies, have often been left out of the research agenda by scientists who work in their regions yet rarely share the results of their research.  Fortunately, this trend appears to be changing, with mountain scientists in general adopting (based on the 8 presentations) more integrated, participatory, and coupled human and natural system approaches in their research portfolios, where just a decade ago this was in general discouraged by universities and donors alike in favor of more basic research approaches.   This is fortunate because, as demonstrated in several of the case studies, mountain regions are increasingly threatened by overgrazing, mining, agricultural expansion, poaching, and climate change and will require the active involvement of local mountain people if real, long-term solutions are to be found.  Such an interdisciplinary and participatory approach will also be important to removing the chronic uncertainties surrounding the trends and impacts of climate change, especially in high mountain regions of the world.


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