Addressing Climate Change with Indigenous Knowledge

By Raphael Nawrotzki and Polina Kadatska.

Published by The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Climate change has become a global problem affecting especially the world’s poorest people in developing countries. Well documented failures of developing programs to address climate change issues have shown that western technologies and concepts may not fit the cultural context of many developing nations. Sustainable solutions need to draw on indigenous knowledge that is compatible with the local culture. Therefore, this article presents concepts based on indigenous knowledge that may help to design sustainable development projects to address climate change. The article discusses numerous advantages of involving local people in environmental assessments. Furthermore, indigenous coping mechanisms to deal with droughts and flooding as major impacts of climate change are presented. Coping mechanisms range from special cropping methods, seed preparation, and water management techniques as a response to drought, whereas bamboo platforms, floating seedbeds, stilt houses, and drainage channels are examples for indigenous answers to severe flooding. Also, techniques such as forest gardening, agroforesty, communal forest management, and forest protection based on supernatural beliefs are presented as indigenous approaches to tackle deforestation as a major source for atmospheric CO2 increase leading to global warming. In addition, the advantages of indigenous communication techniques for information dissemination for the purpose of learning and disaster communication are explored. Finally, the problems of indigenous knowledge loss due to acculturation and western/modernity impacts are discussed. The article concludes with a set of recommendations on how to increase the efficiency of documentation and dissemination of indigenous knowledge.

Keywords: Indigenous Knowledge, Developing Countries, Droughts, Floods, Deforestation, Climate Change

International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp.33-48. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 766.261KB).

Raphael Nawrotzki

Student, Department of Behavioral Sciences, University of Colorado at Boulder, Berrien Springs, Colorado, USA

Raphael Nawrotzki has been involved in environmental studies since 2003. He graduated from the University of Applied Sciences Darmstadt (Germany) with a bachelors degree in Biotechnology with a concentration in Environmental-biotechnology. The capstone of his undergraduate work was his honor thesis titled “Development of a Method for Solid State Fermentation of Trichoderma harzianum and Improvement of Suitable Conidia Formulations” for which he conducted 5 months of full-time research at the German Federal Biological Research Center (BBA). Afterwards, Raphael started graduate work at Andrews University (Michigan) and earned a ‘Master of Science in Administration’ degree in ‘Community and International Development’ with a specialization track in ‘Disaster Preparedness and Environmental Issues.’ For his masters degree he conducted research at the National Center of Atmospheric Research (Boulder, CO) resulting in his final research paper “Exploring the Influence of Seasonality and Demographic Characteristics on the Relation between Weather, Air Pollution and Mortality in Bogota, Colombia.” In 2009, Raphael became a graduate student in the Sociology PhD program at the University of Colorado at Boulder. His specialty area is Environmental Sociology with a particular research interest in the impact of climate change on developing countries and the related environmental refugee problematic.

Polina Kadatska

Andrews University, Michigan, USA

Polina Kadatska holds a BA in English Philology, Management and a MSA in Community and International Development with a concentration in Education. She has a broad research interests in the area of global development.


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