A Societal Knowledge Management System: Harnessing Indigenous Wisdom to Build Sustainable Predictors for Adaptation to Climate Change

By Sunil D Santha, Bardo Fraunholz and Chandana Unnithan.

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

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

As the climate changes globally time-honoured climate in a region may change and shift to another region. Consequently, local predictors of climate may no longer apply to the area where they were born, but may be invaluable in new regions where previously reliable predictors have become outmoded. This paper is set on the proposition that traditional (indigenous) knowledge can be a strategic source in adapting to climate change, in these changing times. The research reported in this paper takes the Societal Knowledge Management approach where knowledge that rests within local communities, is harnessed to inform local communities and scientists regarding climate change impacts, so as to adapt to them accurately. A phased study was conducted that aimed at acquiring, synthesising and disseminating traditional knowledge regarding change in monsoon patterns in India. Traditional wisdom prevalent among the myriad communities of India, was collected, collated and classified into knowledge spheres such as Bio-Indicators, Wind Movement, Atmospheric Patterns, Astrological Methods, Festivals and Rituals, Direction, Characteristics of the Rain, Characteristics of Celestial Bodies etc and incorporated into a knowledge portal, which is the basis for building the Societal Knowledge Management System (SKM). Subsequently, the SKM is to be harmonised with scientific predictors on seasonal weather patterns will allow researchers to identify if the existing indicators and monsoon patterns are subject to change, and if so how. Research in progress is aimed at integrating the knowledge with modern science and disseminating this knowledge through local knowledge centres, at village levels. Furthermore, this study is to be replicated in Australia, by harnessing indigenous knowledge, to build the SKM for Australia that could assist in building a better understanding of the factors that impact the environment, methods of building sustainable predictors for climate and approaches for adapting the climate changes. The research reported is expected to inform policy makers, scientists, governance institutions as well as researchers regarding the applicability of indigenous knowledge in building sustainable predictors for adaptation to climate change in the two countries cited and can be extended into other countries.

Keywords: Societal Knowledge Management, Indigenous Knowledge, Climate Change, Adaptation

International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp.49-64. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 708.672KB).

Dr. Sunil D Santha

Chairperson and Assistant Professor, Department of Social Work, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham (Amrita University), Amritapuri, Kerala, India

Sunil D Santha is an academic with ardent interests in the field of vulnerability reduction and environmental governance. He currently teaches and leads the research initiatives at the Department of Social Work, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham (Amrita University), in Kerala State, India. He holds graduate qualifications in Social Work from Mahatma Gandhi University and obtained PhD in environmental sociology from Indian Institute of Technology Madras (Chennai, India). Presently, Sunil teaches courses related to sustainable livelihoods, environmental change, and disaster risk reduction at Amrita University. His research interests are environment and sustainable livelihoods, common pool resources, climate change adaptation, community-based disaster risk reduction and indigenous knowledge systems.

Bardo Fraunholz

Senior Lecturer, School of Information Systems, Faculty of Business and Law, Deakin University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Bardo Fraunholz lectures in Project Management, Enterprise Modelling and Business Information Communication Systems. He has a master’s in Business specialising in Information Systems/Accounting from Germany, and a post graduation in legal studies specialising in IT, Media and Corporate Law, from London. Bardo spent several years in the Information Communication Technologies sector as co-editor/board member of a publisher specializing in IT and Telecommunication Magazines. He is actively consulting for information systems related projects, especially involving mobile technologies. His research interests are information systems projects, IT and Law, strategic knowledge management,mobile applications, Web 2.0 based approaches that promote citizen engagement in democracies and environment sustainability.

Chandana Unnithan

Associate Lecturer, School of Information Systems, Faculty of Business and Law, Deakin University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Chandana Unnithan lectures in Information Systems Management and Project Management. She holds a Master’s degree by research in Business Computing and an MBA from Australia. She has held varied positions in the ICT industry, ranging from Business Analyst, Project Manager and Knowledge Manager with MNCs such as IBM and TATA. She has published in the domains of e-commerce, project management, mobile business applications, information systems, knowledge management, health informatics and e-governance. Her research interests are in public health approaches to technology integration, social networking applications for empowering citizens in democracies, and harnessing indigenous knowledge to build systems for environmental sustainability.

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