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25.2 Adaptation to climate change in rural regions

Thursday, June 29, 2023
13:45 - 15:15


Matthias Kokorsch
Academic Director
University Centre Of The Westfjords

‘You talk of threat, but we think of comfort’: The role of place attachment in remote communities experiencing avalanche threat.


According to the Icelandic Meteorological Office, climate change may increase the likelihood, intensity, and frequency of avalanches in the country. Until recently, social and community aspects of climate change-related hazards have not received much attention in Iceland. The aim of this study was to explore the role of place attachment in small remote communities and how residents experience the threat of avalanches. We investigated two communities in the Westfjords and their coping strategies. Both communities have experienced avalanches in the past and they are an essential part of the collective memory; residents lost their lives and local industries were severely damaged. Through a narrative approach, we conducted interviews with residents and focus groups were held in each community. Our findings suggest that both communities show a high level of place attachment, in particular regarding the natural and social dimension. Residents exhibit traditional local knowledge. Despite the threats, residents do not consider their communities vulnerable due to various reasons. Nonetheless, the need for decentralized resources and alternative response strategies were expressed, especially against the background of the remoteness and lacking infrastructure.
The empiric case studies are part of the international research project Climate Change Resilience in Small Communities in the Nordic Countries (CliCNord). This projects examines how small rural communities understand their own situation, how they handle adverse events and build capacity, and under what circumstances they need help from the established system and civil society organizations.
Ajay Devda
Research Scholar
Iit Bombay

Reimagining devils of the deep waters: Adapting to the Flood control Infrastructures of Kosi within the paradigm of Climate change


Embankments are crucial flood control infrastructure prevalent in the world’s most flood-affected regions, such as India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. The Kosi river is one such illustration, with 3455 Kilometer embankments to channel the meandering river flow, which has shifted more than 100km in the previous two centuries. Every year, during floods, this agriculture-dependent region is devastated. Moreover, the region has poor socio-economic and developmental parameters, such as female and overall literacy, housing conditions, migration, and extremely poor road connectivity. The paper employed data from various sources, including high-resolution remote sensing datasets, survey reports, agricultural and climate datasets, to investigate the impacts. The study presents adaptation strategies for the Kosi river basin’s agricultural sector within the climate change epitome, particularly in Northern Bihar. The latest IPCC report suggests a change in precipitation up to 5 to 21 percent, and melting of Himalayan glaciers could deplete Kosi’s lean season flow, where half of the population is engaged in agricultural and allied sectors. In this purview, crop selection is vital to climate adaptation, which could impact the region’s development paradigms. Therefore, the study attempted to explore farming practices to prepare crop suitability maps and policy pathways that could lessen the impact of climate uncertainty. The results suggest that the characterization of flood-vulnerable lands and cropping patterns is an integral attribute of climate change adaptation. Nevertheless, the population is slowly transforming to fit into the new reality, including changing crop varieties, farming patterns, migration, and others. Still, numerous hurdles need to be addressed.
Carolina Hernández
Ph.D Student
National University of Colombia | Sorbonne Nouvelle University

Climate change adaptation and floods in a tropical floodplain. The case of La Mojana, Colombia


La Mojana region, in northern Colombia, is the interior delta of the San Jorge and Cauca rivers on the Magdalena River. It is a zone of lagoons of freshwater, floodplains, and a complex system of connector streams. The ecological function of this ecosystem is to regulate the flows of the rivers, preventing floods downstream in rainy seasons and maintaining a freshwater supply in dry seasons. In this region, floods are a regular phenomenon. Agricultural production, fishing, and day-to-day life are organized according to the seasonality of floods.

However, ecological alterations and climate change have made these seasonal floods disasters, that worsened the poverty conditions of the rural population. So, adaptation to climate change has become a primary concern, even though adaptation is still an ambiguous concept that frames a wide range of responses. Here infrastructure is still the most common answer.

Based on the theoretical propositions of the political ecology of water, I suggest that phenomena such as floods are not “natural” nor “technical”, but a complex set of social, ecological, and political interactions between social actors, land, and water. In this paper I propose a critical view of the climate change adaptation policies, centered on the technical component of the floods, neglecting the hydro-social complexities. My hypothesis is that climate change adaptation discourses reproduce unsustainable development patterns.

The study of this case allows us to understand the local implications of global changes and discourses and to re-evaluate ideas about hydrological management and climate change adaptation.
Maria Borràs Escayola
Phd Student
University of Girona

Sensing the territory: expanding other ways of knowing through the cuerpo-territorio methodology to transform representations of climate change.


This is a proposal to apply cuerpo-territorio (body-territory) methodology to explore the discourses from people active in social movements against the implementation of policies in the name of climate change. After analysing climate change public policy discourse at a double scale (Spain and Catalonia) applying Carol Bacchi’s methodology: What's the problem represented to be? (WPR approach) we unveiled the three official narratives behind the construction of the climate change subject: (1) a positivist-technocratic vision, (2) a blind trust on the infinite economic growth and (3) an analysis of the already existing social and territorial vulnerabilities. In the next step of the research, which is developed within my PhD thesis, I want to explore how is climate change perceived in social movements resisting or contesting the implementation of climate change public policies. The idea of using the cuerpo-territorio methodology arises from the need to include other ways of knowing and living the territory that are different from what the official discourse of public policies wants us to believe is the only and indisputable one, and to be able to build jointly that knowledge with the collectives, trying to follow the path of decolonial feminist geography, which wants to embody theories; identifying the theories that are generally built collectively and that have the power to generalize, without universalizing. Using this methodology in a different context from where it was created is also a step towards more transnational dialogue between feminist geographers which may help decolonising academy (specially in the Global North).

Session host

Marco Pütz
Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL

Susann Schaefer
Research Associate
University of Jena



Contact for questions about abstracts or registration: groningen@congressbydesign.com 

Contact for questions about the content of the programme: ruralgeo2023@rug.nl