LICCI core team and partners joined an online writing workshop: Reflections, Collaborations, and Motivations

While the pandemic is still keeping us distant, the second edition of the LICCI writing workshop has taken place between September 2020 and January 2021. LICCI PI, Victoria Reyes-Garcia, invited LICCI team members and partners to write a scientific article and share the joys and the struggles of the writing process in a weekly online meeting. This experience allowed the participants to benefit from the support of each other while increasing motivation and keeping the planned pace. At the same time, the online deliberations enabled the participants to reflect and identify the challenges of addressing key concepts related to climate change, such as adaptation. As this process is soon coming to an end, three LICCI partners, coming from three continents, Priyatma working with coastal communities of Fiji, Rosario with the Pehuenche mountain communities of Chile, and Giulia with the Hutsuls of the Romanian Carpathians, are happy to share their findings and their reflections on writing exercise. 

The unprecedented challenges of climate change have placed island nations on the frontline of the climate crisis. Priyatma can vouch for this as she hails from Fiji, a small island nation in the Pacific that is exposed to extreme weather and climate variability and change. Since 2012, Fiji has been battered by 12 tropical cyclones, two of which (Winston-2016 and  Yasa-2020) are the strongest-ever in the southern hemisphere. Fiji will be significantly affected by climate change, with severe consequences projected for coastal communities, local economies, and people’s livelihoods. It is against this background that Priyatma investigated local adaptation strategies and compared them with Fiji’s national adaptation plan. Considering the adverse impacts of climate change, it came as no surprise to see local communities applying various adaptation strategies in efforts to build community resilience. A clear indication that people of the Pacific Island countries have long been early adaptors to environmental change, building resilience through their “safety net” of local and traditional knowledge and social capital. But findings also point towards some gaps between local and national adaptation strategies, particularly in key thematic areas of participatory decision-making processes, collection and valuation of traditional knowledge, and a need for developing resource mobilization and implementation strategies.

Rosario worked on an article that analyses the responses to the climate change impacts provided by the Mapuche-Pehuenche communities of Lonquimay. Taking into account the historical relationship between the State and the Mapuche people, she analyzed the effects of climate change in this commune and their impacts on the contextual vulnerability of the communities. Combining previous data with those constructed in the context of the LICCI project, it can be observed that Pehuenche communities face a series of changes, which are linked to temperature increase and precipitation decrease. Due to the structural conditions of inequality and coloniality, the responses that the Pehuenche are implementing are not able to establish sustainable adaptation mechanisms. Even in half of the cases, they could increase climate vulnerability by reinforcing inequality conditions. This case allows us to reflect on how, to face climate vulnerability, in addition to adaptation strategies, are required institutional transformation processes that address inequality and strengthen local capacities.

Intending to enrich our understanding of climate change, Giulia has worked on an article combining instrumental recordings from mountain meteorological stations and climate change perceptions reported by Hutsuls, an ethnolinguistic minority living in the Carpathians, the second largest mountain range of Europe. Giulia started reflecting that our current understanding of climate change impacts mostly comes from the interpolation of instrumental recordings. However, the scarcity of meteorological data in mountain areas and the high variability in these ecosystems render predictions obtained through interpolation too coarse. The interviews revealed that Hutsuls observed temperature changes (e.g., an increase in winter mean temperature), disappearance of seasonal events, precipitation decrease, and increase in the frequency of storms. These observations generally resembled trends derived from data obtained from the meteorological station. Beyond climatic trends, Hutsuls reported the impacts of such trends on the physical, biological, and human systems, thus contributing to our understanding of climate change impacts at a local scale. Giulia and her co-authors concluded that local communities could complement instrumental records by contributing to the identification of climate change cascading impacts on biological, physical, and human systems.

Priyatma, Rosario, and Giulia greatly benefitted from the exchange among them and with other colleagues who shared the process with them. Indeed, every week each participant was committed to commenting on the draft of a colleague, while also receiving feedback. This mechanism has allowed the participants to gain strong insights into each other’s work, while also supporting the intrinsic ups and downs of the process. We hope that this experience could contribute to strengthening the bridges between local and scientific knowledge.