Territorial Thinking for Climate Adaptation: combining future-oriented, systemic design and intercultural knowledge

18:00 Tuesday 28 May




Fronika De Wit (Portugal) 1; Carolina Giraldo Nohra (Italy) 2; Astrid Mangnus (Netherlands) 3

1 - ICS - University of Lisbon; 2 - Politecnico di Torino, Italy; 3 - Utrecht University

In the current age of steadily progressing climate change, it is a relatively well-documented reality that the most vulnerable populations are often hit the hardest, despite contributing relatively little to the root causes of the problem. What is currently lacking are practical tools that meet the demand of these communities for climate adaptation and increase their autonomous adaptive capacity. Drawing on three combined fields of literature, we propose a co-production of knowledge for climate adaptation. Since we want to outline the possibilities of combining three different fields and bodies of knowledge, we propose to do this through a systematic literature review. For this review, we analyze the bodies of literature on futures studies, systemic design and intercultural knowledge through the main 20 articles of the last 15 years in each area that come up in SCOPUS when using the search term ‘climate change adaptation’ AND ‘[field]’, filtered manually to select the most relevant ones.

Results from future studies highlight that a future of climate change is an inherently uncertain one. The field of futures studies offers a range of methodologies and technique that enable communities and groups of citizens to engage with the future in a systematic way.

Increasingly, futures studies depart from the point of view of communities themselves, through participatory processes that optimize the knowledge that is already present in communities, and by structuring this knowledge in a way that prepares the community for uncertain futures. Systemic Design studies highlight that our territories are at the forefront of major global challenges. These territories, as living metabolism, are on the need to seek for resilience to be able to deal with climate and economic impacts. In this wide context, the Systemic Design research encourages the implementation of a new cultural paradigm which aims to foster innovation in local resources for a sustainable development. Results from the field of cultural geography highlight the importance of intercultural knowledge and how explanations co-exist in complex ways within and across cultures. In relation to climate adaptation, it is vital to emphasize the intercultural dialogue and the process of interweaving scientific knowledge on climate change with local knowledge.

Synthesizing the findings for the three fields of study, we conclude that there is a great potential for transformative change in a complementary use of knowledge, by forming it into a transdisciplinary, holistic research approach.