Anne M Leitch (Australia) 1; Kerrie Foxwell-Norton (Australia) 1
1 - Griffith University
Changes in climate are already affecting the lives and livelihoods of First Nation communities around the world. That ‘adaptation is local’, ‘context is important’ and ‘various knowledges need to be integrated’, are now common tenets of adapting to climate change. Yet challenges remain in defining and implementing these principles within the constraints of adaptation planning projects. This paper describes developing resources to support climate change decision making with two Indigenous local governments, known as Aboriginal Shire Councils, located in Far North Queensland, Australia. Projected impacts of climate change in this region include warmer weather, increasing sea levels and ocean acidification, and less frequent but more intense tropical cyclones. As well as planning to respond to these changes, Indigenous communities also need to address challenges such as altered cultural and natural resources, restricted access to their remote communities, and limited resources for adaptation in terms of funds, time and capacity.
In this project, we develop a comprehensive map of community-specific cultural, technical and geographical barriers to planning and activities to mitigate and adapt to climate change. We outline the participatory process used in the co-creation of these community-specific climate change resources as we work with these two communities to navigate changing climate impacts, identify priorities for practice improvement, and foster a sense of ownership. While these materials need to be fit for purpose and sensitive to the specific community needs, they also have to support and complement other local and state government resources. We began this project with the acknowledgement that, in Australia and internationally, First Nation’s people often describe walking in two worlds: that of deep and rich cultural heritage alongside often incongruous Western institutions. To develop climate change resources in this context, we aimed to leverage indigenous relations to land and community and so support and respect cultural heritage during adaptation to projected climate change impacts. Blending these two worlds remains a key challenge for indigenous communities in mitigating and adapting to climate change however, with a willingness to listen, there may be ways to support resilience that are both meaningful, and likely to succeed.