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Traditional Knowledge Discourses in Climate Change Adaptation

Info: 19049 words (76 pages) Dissertation
Published: 10th Dec 2019

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Tagged: Environmental StudiesClimate Change

Table of Contents

Chapter 2: Understanding the Critiques of Traditional Knowledge Discourses in Climate Change Adaptation.

2.1 Introduction

2.3 Traditional Knowledge and Intellectual Property Rights

2.4 Understanding the Critiques of Traditional Knowledge (TK) Discourse in Climate Change Adaptation

2.4.1 Traditional Knowledge Indicators

2.4.2 Traditional Knowledge Management System Traditional Knowledge and Natural Resource Management (NRM) Contributions of TK to DRR Traditional Knowledge and Food Security

2.5 Worldviews (System of knowledge, belief, and values)

2.6 Conclusion

Chapter 3:  Climate Change Adaptation in the Pacific Islands

3.1 Introduction

3.2 Adaptation

3.3 Vulnerability

3.4 Vulnerability to Climate Change in the Pacific Islands

3.4.1 Biophysical vulnerability

3.4.2 Social vulnerability

3.5 Community-based adaptation (CBA) in the Pacific Islands.

3.6 Conclusion

Chapter 4: Research Methodology

4.1 Introduction

4.2 Literature Review

4.3 Qualitative Research Methods

4.3.1 Interview

4.3.2 Focus Group Discussion

4.4 Case study Approach

4.5 Ethics Approval

4.6 Data Transcription, Analysis and Validity

4.6.1 Data Analysis

4.6.2 Validity

4.7 Conclusion


List of Tables

List of Abbreviations

AR1  First Assessment Report

AR4  Fourth Assessment Report

AR5  Fifth Assessment Report

CBA  Community Based Adaptation

CBD  Community Based Development

CBNRM Community Based Natural Resource Management

CCA  Climate Change Adaptation

DRR  Disaster Risk Reduction

FAO  Food and Agriculture Organization

GIZ  Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (German Development Agency)

IK  Indigenous Knowledge

IPCC  Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

LDC  Least Developed Countries

NGO  Non-Government Organization

NRM  Natural Resource Management

PIC  Pacific Island Countries

SIDS  Small Island Developing States

SPREP  South Pacific Regional Environmental Program

TEK  Traditional Ecological Knowledge

TIK  Traditional Indigenous Knowledge

TK  Traditional knowledge

UN  United Nations

UNDP  United Nation Development Program

UNISDRR United Nation Office for Disaster Risk Reduction

USP  University of the South Pacific

WIPO  World Intellectual Property Organization

Chapter 2: Understanding the Critiques of Traditional Knowledge Discourses in Climate Change Adaptation.

2.1 Introduction

Traditional knowledge (TK) is embedded in the socio-economic and cultural structures of the indigenous societies throughout many parts of the world. It has been a cornerstone for their livelihood which determines how these indigenous communities have coped with and adapted to the changes in the environment (Leon et al., 2015; Nyong, Adesina, & Elasha, 2007; Riedlinger & Berkes, 2001). This chapter explores the critiques of understanding traditional knowledge discourses in climate change adaptation. There has been a firm belief that traditional knowledge helps in identifying onsets of these adverse ecological changes which lead to appropriate management options to adapt to these changes (D. Green & Raygorodetsky, 2010; Donna Green et al., 2010; Okonya & Kroschel, 2013; Weatherhead et al., 2010).

In this chapter, it is argued that the uses and roles of traditional knowledge discourse in climate change adaptation in the context of a rural setting and its applications to the everyday life of indigenous people could be incorporated into the development of sustainable community-based adaptation strategies and policy to tackle impacts of climate change. The rationale behind this, is being that traditional knowledge system creates a moral economy and also can be used as a complement to scientific methods (Fernández-Llamazares et al., 2017; Mercer et al., 2010; Orlove et al., 2010; Raymond et al., 2010; Riedlinger & Berkes, 2001b). Also, traditional knowledge is seen as a mechanism for participatory approaches and is sustainable. Moreover, TK increases the rate of effective communication and dissemination of climate change mitigation and adaptation at the local scale level (A. Nyong, Adesina, & Elasha, 2007).

This chapter provides a critical review of the literature on understanding traditional knowledge discourses in climate change adaptation in a local-scale community context of the developing world with an emphasis on Pacific Island countries (PIC). It defines traditional knowledge based on standard definitions employed by different scholars on traditional knowledge and comes up with a concrete description that fits this thesis. Furthermore, it discusses why the traditional knowledge management techniques can be used to reduce vulnerability to the impacts of climate changes. Finally, it shows how traditional knowledge systems, belief, and values shaped and have shaped adaptation strategies of many indigenous communities in the face of adverse environmental changes caused by past and current climate variability and extremes.

2.2 Defining Traditional Knowledge

The definition of traditional knowledge has been widely debated by many scholars about how it is used in different contexts. Berkes (2017) claims that there is no concise or accepted definition of traditional knowledge due to it as ambiguous based on its dynamic form, and how important it is used in each given context. According to the WIPO, “no single definition would do justice fully to the diverse forms of knowledge and expressions that are held and created by indigenous peoples and local communities throughout the world” (WIPO, 2015). So that means there is not, yet, any accepted or formal definition of the terms. Nevertheless, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) uses the term to refer to “tradition-based literary, artistic or scientific works; performance; inventions; scientific discoveries; designs; marks, names and symbols; undisclosed information; and all other traditional-based innovations and creations resulting from intellectual activity in the industrial, scientific, literary or artistic fields”(Li, 2014). In a similar but narrow concept, Dutfield (2003) refers to traditional knowledge as a knowledge associated with the environment rather than knowledge related to the environment. Dutfield definitions describe the  knowledge of the use of plant and animal species, as well as soils and minerals; knowledge of preparation, processing, or storage of useful species; knowledge of formulations involving more than one ingredient; knowledge of individual species , and knowledge of ecosystem conservation for practical purposes by the local community or their culture.

It can be said that TK is the main subject of all knowledge related to the environment and that others are a subset of TK such as indigenous or local knowledge and traditional ecological knowledge (TEK). According to Li, (2014), indigenous knowledge can be defined in two ways, as a knowledge held and used by communities, people and nations that are “indigenous’ and as the knowledge that is itself “indigenous.” Traditional ecological knowledge refers to knowledge systems embedded in the cultural traditions of regional, indigenous and local communities. A culture system defined as a way of knowing (know-how) the environment and the changes that are taking place within it by acquiring this knowledge through different generations in the form of oral observations and practical experiences (Berkes, 2017).  Berkes underpins this definition by stating that traditional ecological knowledge is an enduring link between human and the environment and regarded as part of an everyday way of doing things. In support of this, traditional knowledge can be regarded as a main component of community survival at first glance.

In retrospect, indigenous, traditional and traditional ecological knowledge can be used interchangeably with each other. However, most scholars favored using indigenous knowledge than traditional knowledge (Berkes, 2017). For this paper, the terms will be used interchangeably unless or otherwise significantly needed in some context; then further in-depth definitions may be employed or explored for clarity.

2.3 Traditional Knowledge and Intellectual Property Rights

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) does not promote documentation of TK (WIPO, 2015). However, it advises national government, cultural institution and traditional custodians to do so if they wish and that risk and potential benefits must be assessed (WIPO, 2015). Traditional knowledge of indigenous people is an “intellectual property[1]’’ because it is a living body of knowledge that is developed, sustained and passed on from generation to generation within a community, often forming part of its cultural or spiritual identity (WIPO, 2015). Hayakawa & Ito, (2016) pointed out that recently traditional knowledge and intellectual property rights have become closer regarding protection, ownership, and benefits derived from traditional knowledge. Traditional knowledge can be found in a wide variety of context, including agriculture, ecological, medicinal and biodiversity knowledge. It reflects the social and historical identity and significantly contributes to the future well-being and sustainable development of the indigenous people. A wealth of knowledge that has been embodied within the life and living experiences of indigenous people for past generations and has become their intellectual property.

In contrary to what was previously discussed, Murray & Stern, (2007) argue that intellectual property right over a given piece of knowledge may affect the prosperity of future researchers to build upon that experience in scientific research activities. This is because the protection of TK is through documentation and registration and that any individual or organizations involved in the documentation have the intellectual property rights and not their traditional holders (WIPO, 2016). It becomes a gap in research when documenting traditional knowledge. Traditional knowledge documentation and registration must involve native or indigenous traditional holders so that ownership of this intangible tools is protected and always valued in times of need.

In the Pacific Islands, traditional knowledge on weather and climate has been documented with the help of a database to monitor TK indicators (Chambers et al., 2017). Chambers et al. point out that even though TK is digitized, the sensitivity of data shared is still an issue as some critical knowledge is only shared among specific or few clans or tribes which may jeopardize the real value and meaning of such knowledge. On another hand, Hayakawa & Ito, (2016), argue that third party who claimed the position of the right holder through documentation and registration may put TK to commercial use. It further argued that traditional holders are not consulted enough, and that documented TK must be review often especially with the weather and climate knowledge due to changes that TK indicators may felt to respond effectively due to climate change.

2.4 Understanding the Critiques of Traditional Knowledge (TK) Discourse in Climate Change Adaptation

It is argued that traditional knowledge can be used as instruments to enhance the understanding of local climate in data deficient region so that adaptation strategies are more robust at the local scales (Fernández-Llamazares et al., 2017; Pennesi et al., 2012; Riedlinger & Berkes, 2001). This argument is underpinned by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stating that studies on climate change and global environmental change have explored indigenous knowledge to become part of a shared learning effort to address climate-change impacts.(ARG WGII, 2007). To date, however, this remains particularly true in most developing countries where scientific data are lacking and that the only source of information reliable is through traditional knowledge. In Northern Philippines, for example, traditional ecological and climate knowledge of the local people have helped them to adapt to the perceived changes which help them to continually sustain the success of their local rice productions (Soriano et al., 2017). The traditional knowledge and use of bioclimatic indicators that link changes to atmospheric conditions such as wind, temperature and cloud formation with the behavior of flora and fauna throughout the seasons enable adjustments to how local people act and sustain their livelihood (Granderson, 2017). This has further emphasized the importance that indigenous people must be included in adaptation planning process so that they can identify strategies that are culturally appropriate and effective in responding to local weather and climate extremes(Soriano et al., 2017). Moreover, this will allow TK to be used in climate change research as a source of climate history and a baseline data for observed changes.

As stated above, TK can be used to inform science and contribute to enhancing community-based adaptation strategies (Green t al., 2010; Jacobi et al., 2017). For example, TK used in the Arctic region to monitor and observe the behavior of animals under changing environment contributes to science in understanding the movement and availability of livestock (Herrmann et al., 2012). Moreover, in Australia, natural resource scientists increasingly recognised traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) of Aboriginal people in fire , water and food management as a coping mechanism to adapt to extreme weather and climate conditions (Donna Green et al., 2010; Leonard et al., 2013; Prober et al., 2011) .On the contrary, climate change is disrupting traditional knowledge and culture of indigenous people(O’Brien & Wolf, 2010). A case in point is Arctic region and the Philippines where local people observed difficulty in predicting the weather due to changing weather patterns (Soriano et al., 2017; Weatherhead et al., 2010). Recent evidence and prediction indicate that climate changes will lead to a wide-ranging shift in weather and climate variables (IPCC AR5, 2014). Consequently, the differences in climate variabilities and extremes will affect natural resources, food and water security (Heltberg et al., 2009). Local and indigenous people will have to cope with these changes not only by using their current traditional knowledge to adapt but to revisit past knowledge or invent new ways of adaptation to deal with these changes.

In realizing the scope of traditional knowledge in climate change adaptation, the national and international agencies and governments in both developed and developing world tend to focus their attention on the documentation and research into this discourse (IPCC AR5, 2014, p. 637). The Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the IPCC stated with high confidence that the documentation of traditional methods of adaptation in both developed and developing countries have grown (IPCC AR5., 2014). This is true for Western United State and the Pacific islands where the opportunities to document and apply indigenous knowledge to support policy and practices of adaptive strategies (Armatas et al., 2016; Chambers et al., 2017). Again, there has been an increased effort by climate change scientists in relying on the observations of environmental change by local hunters and gatherers to better understand how to develop effective adaptation strategies (Da Silva et al., 2014; Ignatowski & Rosales, 2013). This shows the importance of TK in complementing western knowledge.

The increase significant of documenting traditional knowledge for climate change adaptation came to reality when Pacific island countries created a database for traditional knowledge indicators in weather and climate prediction (Chambers et al., 2017). Consequently, increasing documentation and research into TK is usually accepted as a vital to both current and future use. However, cautions must be taken when using TK if there are challenges in applying TK to the rapidly changing environment, and that, those observed difficulties must be recorded as a baseline for future research references. There is no such thing as a static solution to a wicked problem. These concern were raised by Weatherhead et al., (2010) that documentation of TK must be done with care and in collaboration with the local TK holders. As stated by Pennesi et al., (2012) that the significant aspect of developing traditional weather knowledge is the amount of time spent and experience engaging in activities such as farming, hunting, and fishing.

2.4.1 Traditional Knowledge Indicators

Adaptation involves being sensitive to interpretive signs in the environment and knowing how to respond. Indigenous people who are hunters, fishers, and who actively use the land and its resources possess a wealth of traditional ecological knowledge because of their close observation of the environment which includes looking for signs of change (Armatas et al., 2016; Ignatowski & Rosales, 2013). Armatas et al. (2016) argue that traditional phenological knowledge improves resilience to social and ecological systems amidst climate change by providing indicators to identify and assess environmental change. By contrast, the most significant aspect of developing local weather and climate knowledge is the amount of time spent engaging with the environment (Pennesi et al., 2012). To support this, Leonard et al. (2013) give an example of pelican making corkscrew-like flights in the sky indicating signs to Aboriginal people that waters sources may have dried up. Other supporters of traditional knowledge indicators used by indigenous people to signal changes of the environment include cloud formations, wind directions, increase in night-time temperature , time of growth and flowering of plants and behaviour of animals and birds (Barnhardt, 2005; Chang’a et al., 2010; Granderson, 2017; Lefale, 2010; Leonard et al., 2013; Orlove et al., 2010; Pennesi et al., 2012; Weatherhead et al, 2010). Granderson (2017) examines the link between the traditional knowledge indicators and the behavior flora and fauna of environmental conditions that enable local people to act accordingly through seasons. In effect, the contributions of traditional signs have come to potentially promoting traditional knowledge in climate change adaptation.

In contrast to the previous discussion, traditional knowledge indicators have also come under increasing challenges of predicting weather and climate due to rapidly changing environments (Weatherhead et al., 2010). Thus, as claimed by Fernández-Llamazares et al., (2017) that cautions is recommended when considering using indigenous knowledge to predict change in climate. Mengistu (2011) highlights the inconsistency of environmental indicators and cultural beliefs that even though they are part of local people know and experiences, they are still difficult to compromise. He further argues that this will have an impact on adjusting traditional practices to adapting to climate change. Consequently, the socioecological resilience of local people may be affected due to their close connection to the natural world (Green & Raygorodetsky, 2010) and for this reasons when doing place-based research, facets of indigenous knowledge must be taken seriously (Berkes, 2012, p. 176).

2.4.2 Traditional Knowledge Management System

It is widely acknowledged that traditional knowledge management systems have not been fully utilized when dealing with natural disaster and current environmental changes (Mercer, 2010). Mercer further argues that for community-based adaptation to be successful, the past and present traditional knowledge and experiences must be considered. Indigenous people socially constructed their way of adjusting to climate variabilities and change, an aspect of reducing the risk of disasters based on their locally develop knowledge and practices (Leonard et al., 2013). As an equivalent to Leonard et al.,Berkes, (2012) stated in support that traditional knowledge had provided a baseline against which to compare changes and the strategies to manage these changes. Moreover, traditional knowledge offers a tool to ground-truth gridded descriptions of climate changes, so that adaptation strategy is more robust at local scales (Fernández-Llamazares et al., 2017)

There is a wealth of knowledge that has been practiced and adapted to over generations especially in areas of disasters and natural resources management and also agricultural and food security that has contributed to sustaining the life and living experiences of indigenous communities (Berkes & Ross, 2013). Traditional Knowledge and Natural Resource Management (NRM)

The indigenous rural communities throughout many parts of the developing world rely heavily on resources from the natural environment including forest, marine, and surface freshwater resources for their survival (Singh et al., 2010). They organized and used their traditional knowledge and skills to manage the elements of their natural resources for food security, cultural and ritual activities, and for preservations and protections against natural disasters and other adverse weather events (Anthwal et al., 2010). TK and skills for conservations and protections are rooted in these types of practices, and most of them have been practiced until today (Léopold et al., 2013). For example, the practices of using traditional off-limits or taboo signs (Namele (Cycads) leaf) commonly use the Pacific Islands to indicate areas that are restricted to human activities for many years (Léopold et al., 2013). The traditional knowledge of looking after totems or natural features that connected to a clan or clans within an indigenous society and the traditional techniques of fishing or hunting which only allow for limited removal of species for consumption (Swanson, 2017). These methods are some of the self-learning models which involved traditional knowledge as a tool to control unsustainable use and for the survival of rare species of resources. The promotion of traditional knowledge-based practices such as those mentioned earlier can facilitate the conservation of resources and the subsistence survival of local people during extremes climate and weather events (Singh et al., 2010)

The role of traditional Indigenous knowledge (TIK) in natural resource management (NRM) has been recognized in many environmental management scholarships and to name a few (Gómez-Baggethun et al., 2010; Granderson, 2017; Leonard et al., 2013; Lockwood et al., 2010; Mijatović et al., 2013; A. Nyong et al., 2007; Prober, O’Connor, & Walsh, 2011; Romero Manrique de Lara & Corral, 2017; Swiderska et al., 2011; Vierros, 2017), let alone its potential integration with scientific knowledge in such discourse (Armitage et al., 2011; Butler et al., 2012; Hill et al., 2012; Robinson & Wallington, 2012; Romero Manrique de Lara & Corral, 2017). For example, community-based natural resources management (CBNRM) is a participatory approach where knowledge and skills from both traditional knowledge and western knowledge are shared for sustainability of the natural sources (Nopper et al., 2017). Arias et al., (2016) claimed that collaborative participation of indigenous communities in CBNRM had promoted a sense of ownership and acknowledgment in building social networks with other people involved in the environmental conservation spectrum.

Before the concept of integration of knowledge emerged, and the increase in socioeconomic activities, traditional knowledge management for natural resources has been practiced and dominated by local and indigenous communities for many centuries (Stocker et al., 2016). In the Pacific islands, indigenous people developed a sophisticated understanding of the natural process regulating abundance and practical strategies to manage those resources (Friedlander et al., 2013). For example, time of fishing periods would only happen outside spawning sessions or in a way that does not disturb mating and spawning seasons, and large trees are preserved for canoe-building (Friedlander et al., 2013a). This allows for fish and other sea creatures to replenish.

Traditional or indigenous knowledge has fitted well with the concept of community-based natural resources. The idea of community-based natural resource management came about when there is the realization that there are a plethora of challenges when social systems interact with natural systems, a wicked problem (Cox et al., 2010, p. 249). As mentioned earlier in this section, an enormous number of scholarships on roles of traditional knowledge in the community -based natural resource management and most of these scholarships are a concern with resources management in the developing world. For the Pacific islands, traditional and local knowledge has contributed to resources management due to pressure on populations because of socio-economic development and climate change impacts (Clarke & Jupiter, 2010; Foale et al., 2011; Friedlander et al, 2013; Lebel, 2013) . For example, the works of (Kronen et al., 2010; Lebel, 2013) who emphasize that local knowledge must be used to identify changes caused by climate change on the natural environment at the local level. One of the findings of Chamley (2010), is the Native Americans used traditional ecological and local knowledge to manage the northwest forest which resulted in maintaining the biodiversity despite lack of scientific evidence. According to McMillen et al., (2014), community-based and participatory approaches can complement and ground-truth models and appropriately direct resources management and adaptation measures at the local level of the communities. Contributions of TK to DRR

According to the UNISDRR[2] official website, disaster risk reduction (DRR) is defined as a “concept and practice of reducing disaster risks through systematic efforts to analyze and reduce the causal factors of disasters.” DRR is a system development and application of policies and strategies to minimize impacts of natural hazards and increase resilience to disasters amongst vulnerable societies (Kelman et al., 2012; Mercer et al., 2010).  The relationship of traditional knowledge to disaster risk reduction has become recently valuable due to its transferability and adaptability, participatory approaches mechanism and empowerment among vulnerable communities (Shaw et al., 2008). Many aspects of traditional knowledge are used in the developing world as a tool to reduce vulnerability to natural disasters such as tsunami, flooding, storms and droughts.

Traditional knowledge has found its niche within the current and modern way of dealing with natural disaster and current climate change issues. Birkmann & von Teichman (2010) argue that indigenous knowledge could help facilitate the preparation of specific adaptation and DRR strategies at the local scale because of the lack of local or down-scaled data of climate change effects or the localisations of impacts of extremes. Traditional knowledge is of great value for scientific research and environmental management, particularly in areas where local measurement and scientific data are lacking or limited (Leon et al., 2015). TK informs emergency preparedness due to its flexibility and seasonal cycle that made it possible be  intimately connected  with the knowledge of the environment (Pearce et al., 2015). However, Hiwasaki et al. (2014) strongly emphasize that local indigenous knowledge needs to be integrated with scientific knowledge before it can be used in DRR and climate change. By recognizing the use and roles of traditional knowledge in disaster risk reduction, it has helped to maintain the remaining capacity of this knowledge at the local communities. In contrast, loss of indigenous knowledge has contributed to increased vulnerability to environmental hazards (Mercer et al., 2009).  Weichselgartner & Pigeon, (2015) stated that it is essential to understand the connection that links disaster risk reduction, knowledge management, and social learning to help improve disaster risk reduction. Such connections tend to relate to the use of traditional knowledge in tandem with scientific knowledge and the top-down, and bottom-up approaches that need the support of national institution and policy (Gaillard & Mercer, 2013).

The extent of using and relying on traditional knowledge to mitigate or response to natural disasters has been widely common in developing countries like the Pacific islands and Southeast Asia to cope with and adjust to the changes caused by natural variability and disaster (Kelman et al., 2012).  For example, indigenous knowledge has been used as part of mitigation and preparedness to warn local communities against tsunami in Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Simeulue Island in Aceh, Indonesia (Fritz & Kalligeris, 2008; Syafwina, 2014; Walshe & Nunn, 2012). It is claimed that lower death related to these events is linked to traditional knowledge which has been used to alert people to move to higher group away from deathly waves of the tsunami. Again,  traditional knowledge storms routes and wind patterns used in Rajasthan in India to help design storm-proof shelters (Pareek & Trivedi, 2011).  Furthermore, the uses and roles of traditional knowledge in DRR has been commonly mentioned in other scholarly publications such as Gero et al. (2011) on integration of DRR and CCA, Rahman & Rahman (2015) on natural and traditional defence mechanism in Bangladesh and McNamara & Prasad (2014) on coping with extreme weather that focuses on the Pacific Islands of Fiji and Vanuatu. It is with no arguments that traditional knowledge and practices are helping lives in times of natural disasters.

For many decades, traditional knowledge has passed down from one generation to the next and continually modified due to new experiences and pressure from external changes (Twigg, 2015). For instance, the introduction of community-based disaster risk reduction which combines traditional knowledge and modern knowledge (Kelman et al., 2012). This combination is ideal for building on existing knowledge which has been rooted within the local communities for many generations instead of introducing novel approaches. However, local and indigenous knowledge is key to increasing the resilience of small islands to hazards and impact of climate change (Hiwasaki et al., 2014) Traditional Knowledge and Food Security

The adverse impact of global climate change on food security is expected to have profound effects on the vulnerable indigenous communities whose livelihood depend on natural resources through subsistence agriculture and fisheries activities (Barnett, 2011; Vermeulen et al.,2012; Wheeler & Von Braun, 2013). The success of these subsistence activities for local communities traditionally depends on careful observation of climatic factors, including wind direction, clouds formation and rainfall (Granderson, 2017). Adaptation is considered a critical factor that will shape the future severity of climate change impacts on food production (Altieri et al., 2015). For Pacific Island communities, food security is tested when it comes to extremes evens such as tropical cyclones and droughts (Campbell, 2015). Although this is true, studies have shown that local and indigenous communities could use or depend on their traditional knowledge to ensure food and livelihood security are maintain during arduous periods such as  natural disasters and extreme weather and climate events (Campbell, 2015; Fletcher et al., 2013; Gyampoh et al., 2009; Krishna, 2011; Leonard et al., 2013; Power, 2008). For example , the traditional knowledge of food harvesting, sharing and consumption for the Aboriginal people in Canada and Australia (Beaumier & Ford, 2010; Leonard et al., 2013; Power, 2008a) and the mobility or shifting of people from Savannah areas to forest areas or closer to water sources that favour planting condition during droughts for the Makushi people of Guyana (Krishna, 2011). For this reason, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) includes traditional and indigenous knowledge in policies and programmes and recognizes traditional knowledge as tools to tackle problems of climate change (FAO, 2009). Food security consists of four components or elements which include food availability, ability to access food, ability to utilize food and the ability to sustain food supply (Barnett, 2011; FAO, 2007). However, other social factors have also threatening traditional food security such as limited accesses to traditional land, poverty, environmental pollution on traditional food system, loss of taste for traditional foods due to the intake of western foods and the decreases in the transfer of cultural knowledge from elders to young people (McCubbin et al., 2017; Power, 2008; Vermeulen et al, 2012).

According to the FAO, many local and indigenous communities have traditional knowledge related to thousands of indigenous crop and plant varieties, animal breeds and wild species that they used as food or medicine to ensure food and livelihood security (FAO,2009). For example, traditional knowledge richness study in a single village in Vanuatu by Lebot & Siméoni (2015) found that 68 out of 70 traditional cultivars were identified by women along and Bradacs et al. (2011) found 117 traditional flora used as a medicine on three other islands yet in Vanuatu. Again, 104 plant species used by local people of Balkan region of Albania to foster resilience during periods of food insecurity(Quave & Pieroni, 2015) and 120 fodder plant species used in silvopastoral systems in Bolivia during the dry season (Jacobi et al., 2017). This shows that traditional knowledge practices and experiences of food cultivations and planting have been a backbone for indigenous people for many generations.

Numerous scholars have identified other traditional approaches to food security such as food preservation and conservation during extremes weather like , vegetables, breadfruit and cassava drying (Ibnouf, 2012; Warrick, 2011), cassava and yagona[3] stem cut to prevent wind damage during tropical cyclones (Campbell, 2015; Fletcher et al., 2013; McNamara & Prasad, 2014), and burying the harvest of taro with soil or sand so that it can last up to six months to supplement food supply during disastrous events (Fletcher et al., 2013). In realizing the contributions of traditional knowledge and involvement of indigenous communities in adaptation throughout many parts of the world, many international institutions came to rally their support for these community-led initiatives on climate change adaptations(Fletcher et al., 2013; Krishna, 2011). For instance, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) came to focus its support on the protection of traditional knowledge (WIPO, 2009). Traditional knowledge provides the in-depth experiences in the local context regarding food and agriculture management in times of disaster and weather extremes.

Traditional approaches of planting and hunting seasons have become difficult to predict due to changing the weather and climate patterns (Barnett, 2011; Gyampoh et al., 2009). Krishna (2011) argues that these changes could force indigenous communities to alter their traditional adaptive management systems and could jeopardize their food security. While this may be true in some sense, local people tend to used their traditional knowledge to maintain aspect of their food security by planting faster maturing and drought-resistant crop varieties and prudently identifying best times to hunt, and selective when keeping livestock in areas where rainfall has declined(Armatas et al., 2016; McNamara & Prasad, 2014; Mengistu, 2011; A. Nyong et al., 2007). Other simple management techniques such as adjusting the time of planting to collide with the onset of rains and introducing food for work scheme and small business such as the sale of firewood and even reducing the number of meals per day (Mengistu, 2011).

2.5 Worldviews (System of knowledge, belief, and values)

The values, beliefs and knowledge systems on environmental changes are dynamically differentiated based on the traditions, and the setting of places (O’Brien & Wolf, 2010). And its approach to climate change adaptation is equally important to individuals and cultures (O’Brien & Wolf, 2010; Stringer et al., 2014). That is true in a sense that traditions tend to influence cultures and indigenous views and guides the local norms that direct indigenous people’s way of life (Abegunde, 2017). Traditions include social and spiritual elements that link to the environmental aspect of indigenous knowledge such as stories and legend (Berkes, 2017) because they signify meanings. Therefore, the values of meaning are rooted in place or land that are related to indigenous people way of knowing. These refer to the experiences and connections that are rooted in the everyday activities as people engage with the natural world.

Regarding relational worldview, Stocker et al., (2016) identified three components of relationships that maintain the sustainability of environmental management. These components of relationships are found in human-environment relations, family – social relationships and the power of story. The values and beliefs in these relationships inspire people to have a sense of belonging to place and nature within their surroundings (Abegunde, 2017; Leonard et al., 2013; Stocker et al., 2016). In sum, it is correct that having a close relationship with natural environment leads to building a permanent connection and a bank of knowledge that significantly relates to specific aspects of survival for human ad their natural resources.

O’Brien & Wolf, 2010 describe the influence of climate change at the local scale as both objective and subjective. This depends on how people respond and view the changes as vulnerable to their resilience. While this is true, it remains confident that traditional options of people in rural areas are nebulous when it comes to talking about effects of climate change (Abegunde, 2017). This explains why the people of Miriwoong in the Aboriginal region of Australia link the changes to the environment to the mistreatment of local land and the increasing physical infrastructure development in their country (Leonard et al., 2013). On the other hand, Abegunde (2017) also found that level of illiterate population and lack of awareness of climate change have also contributed to unenthusiastic appreciation to the effect of climate change in rural areas. Moreover, in Northern Philippines, the local rice farmers linked climate changes to the disappointment of ancestral spirit due to the waning practices of their rituals (Soriano et al., 2017). Hence, the relationship of humans to the natural environment is significant when it comes to climate change adaptation. While this again may raise concerns on the views of people and how they perceived the issues according to their settings and experiences is based on their way of knowing.

In brief, O’Brien & Wolf, (2010) stated that a values-based approach to climate change are significant because climate change is a wicked problem. It is dynamic and dimensionally oriented, can create value conflicts; it may be judged based on different value systems by future generation; and climate change itself challenges worldviews and values. The analysis on values-based approached to climate change adaptation is one of the criteria to study vulnerability discourse at the local scale contexts.

2.6 Conclusion

Understanding the critiques of traditional knowledge in climate change adaptations depends on three central concepts of local knowledge in relations to environmental management. The traditional knowledge of environmental indicators, the management strategies that are used to adapt to/with the changes and the worldviews in which people perceived these changes. The traditional indicators of the environment are used as early warning signs for changes in both DRR and climate change. It is increasingly recognized that it can work alone or in tandem with external knowledge (Birkmann & von Teichman, 2010; Camacho et al., 2012; Carby, 2015; Mercer et al., 2009; Pennesi et al., 2012; Walshe & Nunn, 2012).

The use and roles of traditional knowledge in natural resource management are recognized through community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) activities where indigenous and external knowledge are utilized in order to maintain natural resources. It is independently adaptable that traditional knowledge used in agriculture and food security in times of extreme weather and climate events are workable in many local communities. However, the challenges remain on how to integrate traditional knowledge into the development of community-based adaptation strategies and to be recognized by the national government as part of the tool for adaptation to climate change.

Chapter 3:  Climate Change Adaptation in the Pacific Islands

3.1 Introduction

Pacific Islanders have been dealing with changing environment for centuries. Adaptation to change is part of the lifestyle of the Pacific community, and traditional knowledge, values and practices underpins the ability of the Pacific community to successfully live and engage within their environment (Barnett & Campbell, 2010). However, the livelihood , lifestyle , values and practice have been tested by the novel anthropogenic climate change-related impacts (IPCC AR5 2014) such as loss of coastal land due to rising sea level, increase variability on rainfall pattern, adverse economic impact through infrastructure damage and increase food insecurity from increased intensity of extreme weather events (Barnett, 2011; Barnett & Campbell, 2010; Nurse et al., 2001). Dynamic adaptation strategies and policies are needed in order to reduce the vulnerability to the impacts of climate change. Hall (2017) argues that there is no precise definition of adaptation due to it being epistemic ambiguity. This is because activities that are propagated are labeled as adaptation and again it is difficult to monitor and track adaptation assistance.

This chapter explores the evolution of vulnerability and adaptation in environmental management and change. It examines how these concepts are used in climate change in the context of the Pacific Islands. Vulnerability is explored with specific reference to different potential sections of the environment such as physical and social. The final part of this chapter looks at ways to cope with the changes in order to reduce vulnerability by exploring the community -based adaptation strategies. This includes traditional knowledge and non-traditional knowledge frameworks of adaptations.

3.2 Adaptation

The concept of adaptation comes through natural science (Barnett & Campbell, 2010, p. 16; Lenski, 2017) that examines how living things adapted over generations and including human beings to the changing conditions such as personal, social, economic and climatic (IPCC AR5, 2014 p. 853). Due to the rapid rate of climate change, the term is employed by the international, regional and national government with strong emphasis from the IPCC to highlight the management of climate change risk in vulnerable communities (IPCC AR5, 2014).

However, the term (adaption) is still lagging behind mitigation efforts both in research and climate negotiation (IPCC AR5,2014). This is because its definitions are consistently broad and vague due to the lack of agreement over what constitutes adaptation (Hall, 2017; IPCC AR5,2014). Nevertheless, the First Assessment Report of IPCC defines it as “measures to reduce the impact of global climate change ’’with a significant focus on technical activities such as engineering seawalls to protect against sea level rise (IPCC AR1, 1990). The concept was then broadened further in the Fourth Assessment Report of IPCC that defines adaptation as “initiatives and measures to reduce the vulnerability of natural and human systems against actual or expected climate change effects” (IPCC AR4, 2007). The report highlights various type to adaptation such as anticipatory and reactive, private and public, and autonomous and planned adaptations. The latter definition of adaptation captured the social aspect that involves narrowing the concept of adaptation to a more vulnerability point of view and expansion of the actions options that fits all dimensions of human society.

The Fifth Assessment Report of IPCC collectively defines adaptation as “the process of adjustment to actual or expected climate and its effects’’ (IPCC AR5,2014). Similar to IPCC AR5, Füssel, (2007) underpins the definition referring to adaptation as actions targeted at the vulnerable systems in response to actual or expected climate effects and the aim to explore opportunities. Nevertheless, in a more local scale context in regards to the vulnerability point of view, the concept of adaptation involves being sensitive to the interpretive signs in the environment , make adjustments in line with the changes and knowing how to respond (adapt) (Adger et al., 2005; Pearce et al., 2015 , Nyong et al., 2007). While this may be true, (Barnett & Campbell, 2010, p. 16) argue that the responding depends on the nature, magnitude and speed of change and the attributes that required that particular type of change. In the context of the Pacific islands, the concept of vulnerability and adaptation depends on how people perceive these changes and the choice of adaption techniques they required that will be in line with their needs and values (Barnett & Campbell, 2010). In brief, adaptation at the local scale communities is viewed based on the type of vulnerabilities.

3.3 Vulnerability

The term vulnerability has its roots in geography and disaster-related development work before employed into other research contexts including climate impacts and adaptation (Füssel, 2007). The early attempts to document vulnerability was in the United States of America during the beginning of 20th century to late 1970s and early 1980s where the concept was used in relations to health and poverty (“Publications – Alt Futures,” n.d.). It is significant to understand the concept and framework of vulnerability that has led to the combinations of definitions describing the vulnerable systems (Füssel & Klein, 2006)., including type of hazards and risks, and how it is viewed or perceived and its temporal aspect (Cutter, 2003; Füssel, 2007). Similarly, O’Brien & Wolf (2010) state that responding to climate change impacts depends importantly on what the effect of climate change mean to those affected. Their vulnerability factors will determine how they plan to adapt to such impacts. In brief, the level of vulnerability depends on the settings (exposure) , the sensitivity of the ecosystems and level of capacity to adapt to the changes (Barnett & Campbell, 2010, p. 9).

Many scholars link vulnerability to other research contexts with more emphasis on disaster risk concept (Heltberg et al., 2009). The IPCC Third Assessment Report defines vulnerability as “the degree to which a system is susceptible to, or unable to cope with, adverse effects of climate change, including climate variability and extremes ”(IPCC AR3,2001) The risk associated with climate change that could greatly increase vulnerability unless adaptation is not a step higher. Füssel (2007) states that vulnerability depends on the characteristics of risk, exposure and sensitivity to risks and the expected impacts and losses. The used of vulnerability term in climate-related risk relates to all research contexts of climate change. This is equally trued since climate change cannot be assessed or responded to in only one way (O’Brien & Wolf, 2010).

Several vulnerabilities factors that are relevant to disaster reductions are physical , economic, social and environmental factors (IPCC AR5 2014; Hans-Martin Füssel, 2007). This is equally related to S. Robinson (2017), who identifies 28 climates or climate-induced and 30 non-climate induced vulnerabilities in the small island developing states (SIDS). This shows that SIDS are among the countries in the world that are most vulnerable to climate change and required to adapt to its impacts. This is true for SIDS in which vulnerability to climate change is considered as a function of exposure, sensitivity and coping/adaptive capacity (Barnett & Campbell, 2010, Blasiak et al., 2017; Heltberg et al., 2009; IPCC AR4 2007). Sietz et al. (2012) simplify the components of vulnerability with an example that “if the sensitivity of a household is low and its adaptive capacity is high, then the household’s vulnerability is low”. This illustration easily highlights and demonstrates the vulnerability assessment in research when dealing with climate change adaptation at the local scale contexts.

There are critics that vulnerability assessment framework in framing of the vulnerabilities is insufficient (S. Robinson, 2017). For example, vulnerable populations are not targeted by specific actions.

3.4 Vulnerability to Climate Change in the Pacific Islands

The Pacific island regions comprises 22 countries and territories scattered throughout the tropical Pacific Ocean (see Figure 1). The people depend on their natural environment for their sustenance and livelihoods. The countries are varied in terms of population and land areas with Papua New Guinea has the highest population (6,474,910 people) and land area (462,840 km2) and Tokelau with the small population (1,170 people)  and land area (12 km2) (Barnett & Campbell, 2010). The Pacific region is divided into three subregions comprising of Melanesia with larger and higher or mountainous islands compared to Polynesia which are mostly volcanic to low-lying atolls. Micronesia, is make up of atoll island territories mainly located to the north of the equator. The Pacific region have been heavily debate in relation to climate change in literatures, international media and IPCC and environmental publications because of its vulnerability to the impact of climate change (Barnett, 2011; Barnett & Campbell, 2010; IPCC AR1-5). It has been identified that significant sectors such as food and agriculture, fisheries, water, tourism are some of the sensitive sectors that will be affected (Barnett, 2011). The SPREP has been mandated by the Pacific Island governments as a regional institution to oversee the adaptation program as means to reduce vulnerability to the impact of climate change (SPREP)[4]

Figure 1: Map of the Pacific Islands


  Source: Cruickshanks (2014)


Many scholars argue that the small island developing states (SIDS) including the Pacific islands are among the countries in the world that are most vulnerable to climate change impacts (Barnett & Campbell, 2010; Blasiak et al., 2017; Heltberg et al., 2009; IPCC AR1 1990; McIver et al., 2015; Orcherton et al., 2017; S. Robinson, 2017). According to the Fifth Assessment Report of IPCC, there are five criteria to identify vulnerabilities. These includes exposure to climate stressors, the importance of vulnerable systems, the ability to cope with and to build adaptive capacities, the persistence of vulnerable conditions and degree of irreversibility of consequences and the presence of conditions that make societies highly susceptible to cumulative stressors (Oppenheimer et al., 2014, p. 1051). According to the South Pacific Regional Environmental Program (SPREP), most islands are experiencing climate change impacts on communities, infrastructure, water supply, coastal and forest ecosystems, fisheries, agriculture and human health. This is because of their geographic locations and the size of the islands , their climate-sensitive sectors and also they have weak adaptive capacity to hazards (Barnett & Campbell, 2010; IPCC AR5 2014; Heltberg et al., 2009). For these reasons, they are highly exposed and vulnerable  to the impacts of climate hazards such as flooding, increase in sea surface temperature , sea level rise, storm surge and strong winds  (Duvat et al., 2017; Ellison et al., 2017; Thorne et al., 2017). For example, the top global index of vulnerability on climate change and marine fisheries in the least developed countries places 7 island countries in the Pacific on the top ten positions (Blasiak et al., 2017). The climate change situation is increasingly driving sensitive sectors to the rim that appropriate adaptation strategies and policies are needed for sustainability of resources.

The works of Duvat et al. (2017) on trajectories of exposure and vulnerability in the Pacific reveal that population of low-lying reef islands such as those in the Marshall Islands, Kiribati and Tuvalu are highly exposed and vulnerable because their locations are concentrated on flood-prone areas and in poor socio-economic and environmental conditions. Similarly, larger and high islands are also exposed to climate-related hazards risk because most human assets are located in low-lying coastal areas (Duvat et al., 2017; Thorne et al., 2017). Without a doubt that physical, social, economic and environmental sectors of the Pacific society are exposed and vulnerable o climate-related hazards (IPCC AR5 2014.). It is predicted that future impacts of climate change will have a negative influence on wide range of socio-economic factors, including food security, livelihoods and public health and can reshape development trends and may inflict transboundary conflicts (Blasiak et al., 2017; McCubbin et al., 2015; McIver et al, 2015). While this may be true, it is not yet known whether all adaptations options are significant in reducing vulnerability of climate change impacts to sensitive sectors. The subsections below will critically highlight how these sensitive sectors are vulnerability to climate change impacts.

3.4.1 Biophysical vulnerability

Brooks (2003) concept of biophysical vulnerability refers to the combination of the function of hazards, exposure and sensitivity. In the context of the Pacific islands, they are physically exposed to climate-related hazards such as tropical cyclones, droughts, sea level rise, coastal erosions and increase temperature (IPCC AR4 2007; Füssel, 2007). As a result , the ecosystems that provide the main sources of resources for the Pacific people and their livelihood dependent are sensitively affected by these climate-related stimuli (IPCC AR4 2007). Recently highlighted that the Pacific island are already suffering the major impacts of climate change in some of their biophysical sectors such as coral reef and fisheries which are vital for coastal protection, food security and tourism (Blasiak et al., 2017; SPREP.; Weir et al., 2017). Moreover, with sea level rise, there are reported inundation of coastal area which leads to saltwater intrusion that result in freshwater and crops contamination (Weir et al, 2017). The biophysical vulnerability may be exacerbated with other social factors such as population growth and poverty (Adger, 1999). To date, however, it seems that climate change will continues to increase biophysical vulnerability to the Pacific islands that will have an impact on the socio-cultural lives of the People. With rapid increase in the rate of climate change in the Pacific regions (IPCC AR5 2014) , adaptations will be only the option for survival of the Pacific people unless mitigation actions are fulfilled.

3.4.2 Social vulnerability

The factors that determine social vulnerability are poverty, inequality and food entitlement (Adger et al., 2003; Adger & Kelly, 1999) . This happens when individuals or groups of people are exposed to stress as a result of social and environmental change (Adger, 1999). In other words, the study of the ability (adaptive capacity) of population to respond and cope with unexpected changes and disruptive of livelihoods (Adger et al., 2003; Brooks, 2003). These factors of social vulnerability are based on bottom-up approach which mainly focus on vulnerable communities. Adger & Kelly (1999) argue that understanding human use of natural resources is the bases of understanding social vulnerability of a particular group or individual which leads to determining the coping and adaptive capacity to social and environmental change.

The Pacific Island countries are socially vulnerable in the sense that climate change will significantly affect their socio-economic and cultural livelihoods. Brooks (2003) state that the nature of social vulnerability will largely depend on the nature of hazards in which the human system is exposed. For Pacific communities, populations, economics, food and waters are vulnerable to the impacts of climate hazards. For example, vulnerable population are those categorized as the youngest, oldest, disabled, poor and uneducated when disasters strike such as cyclones and droughts. Furthermore, some of countries in the Pacific are regarded as Least Developed Countries (LDC)  by the United Nations (UN)[5] which means they have less resources to fund preventive activities and mega infrastructures for adaptations apart from their indigenous knowledge of adapting (Mercer et al., 2010) . Pacific island food security will also at risk or vulnerable to the impact of climate change as droughts, storms, cyclones and freshwater contaminated by sea level rise will affect agriculture products, quantity and quality of food and freshwater resources(Adger et al., 2003; Caruson & MacManus, 2008). However, Mercer et al. (2010) pointed out that due to limited resources for SIDS, indigenous knowledge is a crucial component of a potential strategy in reducing vulnerability to environmental hazards. This is discussed in the next section on community -based adaptation to environmental change.

3.5 Community-based adaptation (CBA) in the Pacific Islands.

The Pacific Island countries (PIC) have been frequently cited as one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change impacts (IPCC AR4 2007 ; Gero et al., 2011; Nunn et al, 2017; Orcherton et al., 2017; S. Robinson, 2017; Schwarz et al., 2011; Weir & Pittock, 2017; Wise et al., 2014) because of its geographical location in climate-sensitive region which makes it vulnerable to tropical cyclones, sea level rise, increase sea surface temperature and tidal surge (Barnett, 2011; Barnett & Adger, 2003; Weir et al., 2017). Moreover, this is coupled with island size, increase population, poverty and limited economic resources (Weir et al., 2017). Pacific Island countries must adapt to reduce vulnerabilities to the impacts of climate. CBA is an options because it is aligned to local culture, needs and capacity at the local level (Gero et al, 2011)

In realizing the vulnerabilities of the island countries to climate change impacts, the Pacific heads of government designated the South Pacific Regional Environmental Program (SPREP) to coordinate the Pacific region’s response to climate change(SPREP). This includes planning and implementing adaptation strategies and integrating adaptation policies into development processes at national to local community level. However, most of the community-based adaptation (CBA) to climate change projects in the Pacific Islands were funded and implemented in collaboration with other international such as UNDP, GIZ, Red cross and other Non-Government Organizations (NGO) and academic institutions such as University of the South Pacific (USP) For example, the CBA in Druadrau Island, Fiji and in Samoa (“Community Based Adaptation to Climate Change,” n.d.; Dumaru, 2010a),

CBA is adaptation to environmental change caused by climate change at the local level in communities. The significant of CBA is that it encourages participation to build on the existing cultural norms to address concerns that make their livelihood vulnerable to the impact of climate change (Ayers & Forsyth, 2009; UNDP n.d.[6]; Dumaru, 2010) . Moreover, integrating CBA with external knowledge helps to raise awareness of climate change and increase communities accesses to external sources (Dumaru, 2010). Despite of this, Ayers & Forsyth ( 2009) argue that there are no clear line between CBA and Community Based Development (CBD) and that CBA is seen a adapting to current or existing climate variability than that of expected future climate change. While this true for Pacific islands countries, it will be difficult to differentiate adaptation to climate change from normal development. For Pacific people new development at the community level either as community-based adaptation or normal national development is a change that could contribute to upgrade their standard of living.

3.6 Conclusion

The Pacific island countries (PIC) have no options of escaping the impacts of climate change and must fully abetted with any adaptation options that are available to cope with the changes. This chapter has demonstrated some of the key obstacles that made the Pacific Islands vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. These include physical features such as islands size, location of islands and limited natural resources in climate-sensitive region. These coupled up with other social factors such as increased population and food insecurity particularly in some of the smaller island states.

Success in promoting and maintaining the values and culture of the Pacific Islands will depend on the willingness of the Pacific People to change their practices towards adaptations. Adaptation practices based on traditional knowledge or adaptation based on introduced knowledge and skills. As mentioned previously in the chapter, CBA is one way of adapting to the impact of climate change which recognizes both input of local and western knowledge. However, it is not yet known whether traditional knowledge of adaptation alone could be recognized as a strategy for climate change adaptation.

Chapter 4: Research Methodology

4.1 Introduction

4.2 Literature Review

Chapter 2 discussed the current literatures in understanding traditional knowledge discourse in climate adaptation and chapter 3 set the thesis within the contexts of the study area. Engaging in Literature reviews help to design the study and set a tone in which novel concepts could be identified and investigated. According to Booth et al. (2016, p. 11), it is strongly emphasize that reviewing of literatures are important because it helps identify gaps in knowledge , highlights weakness in the evidence and argues for further research. Moreover, Okoli & Schabram, (2010) state that the purpose of conducting a literature reviews is that it provides a theoretical background for subsequent research and helps to understand research questions from the past studies.

For this study, the reviewed literatures help in shading the research focus and confine the gaps that is essential for the thesis. It also contributes in enhancing research themes for interviews and focus group discussion. There are many published works on TK, TEK, IK in the Pacific including Vanuatu. For example, the works of McCarter & Gavin (2014) on TEK , Plotz et al.(2013) on TEK and seasonal climate forecasting and Granderson (2017) on TK and adaptive capacity. These published works help identify the measures currently being research in this area of study and highlights gaps for further research which focus on integration of TK in developing community -based adaptation in the local level context.

The methods used for obtaining the articles for the literature review are research search engine such as google scholars, web of science and Scopus databases. Also, books and online articles from the University of Auckland library are used for the review of literatures. These research databases and sources were recommended by the school of environment of the University of Auckland.

4.3 Qualitative Research Methods

Many scholars agree that qualitative research methods contributes to the body of knowledge that is conceptual to life experiences of people who are involved in the study (Bryman, 2015; Chadwick et al., 1984 , DiCicco-Bloom & Crabtree, 2006) that produces descriptive data based on people own written or spoken words and observable behaviour (Taylor et al, 2015, p. 7) . Bryman (2015) & Chadwick et al. (1984) argue that qualitive research help researchers dealt with the subject in its natural world and allows the researcher to deeply identify and understand subject of the research. Moreover, it is flexible because researcher can reprogram or alter plans based on unexpected discoveries during the research process. In other words, the concerns for qualitative researchers are with the meanings that people attach to things in their live, their settings, and how they think and act in their everyday lives (Taylor et al., 2015, pp. 8–9). On the other hand,Chadwick et al.(1984) argue that qualitative research can violate human rights if the research design is unethical, there are potential for risk of injuries particularly through health and criminal attachment, fears may be arise if the researcher get carried away by surprises resulting in potential unstructured data collection and finally the reliability of the data may be questioned depending the number and quality of the researchers. Nevertheless, Maxwell (2012, p. 30) describe qualitative studies based on ; understanding the meaning; understanding the context, understanding the process; identifying unanticipated phenomena and influences and developing casual explanation. With such views, causal explanation may inflict generalizations which is opposed to qualitive research that suits context specifications and astonishment. However, strengths remain in flexibility that favours alterations during research process.

Qualitive research analyses data from fieldwork observations, in-depth interviews and written documents (Patton, 2005). This research project involves fieldwork which uses in-depth, semi- structured interviews and focus group methods for data collections. These features of the qualitative research design are employed to analysis the extent to which local people in Vanuatu use traditional knowledge to cope with and adapt to climate variability and extremes in their everyday lives and to identify traditional knowledge adaptation strategies that could be incorporated into the development of community-based adaptations.

4.3.1 Interviews

There are three interviews methods that can be used in the field research to collect data for qualitative analysis, namely structured, semi-structured and unstructured interviews. The in-depth semi-structured interviews with indigenous people of Renbura community were used as the primary method in data collection for this fieldwork. Qu & Dumay (2011) stress that overall, research interviews are the most important qualitative data collection methods that has been widely used in conducting field studies. In support, interviews provide a useful way for researchers to learn about the world of others. While this may be true, Qu & Dumay (2011) retaliate by stating that the understanding of the interviews may sometimes be elusive. This is due to the fear of floundering where astonishments may lead to unmeaningful outcome if data collections are unstructured. Careful planning and sufficient preparations are needed so that well planned interview approach can provide a rich set of data (Adams i’hD, 2010).

Many scholars recommended semi-structured type of interview methods as an important tool for gathering data in qualitative research (Adams i’hD, 2010; Baumbusch, 2010; Rabionet, 2011). Significantly, semi-structured interviews explore in-depth experiences of participants and the meanings that attach to these experiences (Adams i’hD, 2010). How there are process of using semi-structured interviews which involves .developing interview guides to analysing the interview data. Baumbusch (2010) states that using interview guide helps facilitate participants descriptions of their experiences without researcher constant interruptions. Participants are flexible to freely voice their experiences in a way that they felt comfortable.

4.3.2 Focus Group Discussion

4.4 Case study Approach

4.5 Ethics Approval

4.6 Data Transcription, Analysis and Validity

4.6.1 Data Analysis

4.6.2 Validity

4.7 Conclusion


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[1] “Intellectual property’’ refers to creations and innovations of the human mind, such as inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names, images, and designs (WIPO,2015).

[2] United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction:  www.unisde.org.

[3] Kava (Yaqona) is a plant indigenous to the Pacific Rim and the Hawaiian Islands whose root and rhizome are used to prepare a non-fermented beverage with relaxant effects that is used for social and recreational purposes (Cassileth, 2011)

[4] SPREP-South Pacific Regional Environmental Program: http://www.sprep.org/

[5] UN – United Nations: http://unctad.org

[6] UNDP-United Nation Development Program: http://www.undp.org

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