Project

LICCI. Local Indicators of Climate Change Impacts. The Contribution of Local Knowledge to Climate Change Research

Goal: LICCI is an ERC funded project that aims to bring insights from indigenous and local knowledge to climate research.

People with a long history of interaction with the environment have developed complex knowledge systems that allow them to detect local impacts of climatic variability, but these insights are absent in climate change research and policy fora. The LICCI project will bring insights from local knowledge to climate research by
1) providing data on local climate change impacts on physical (e.g., shrinking glaciers) and biological systems (e.g., phenological changes) and on perceptions of climate change impacts on socioeconomic systems (e.g., crop failure due to rainfall patterns change) and
2) testing hypotheses on the global spatial, socioeconomic and demographic distribution of local climate change impacts indicators.

The LICCI project started in June 2018 and will end in May 2023.

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Project log

André Braga Junqueira
added a research item
Climate change is an indisputable reality, but it seems that we still consider that it does not concern us directly, as if it only affected the melting ice in the Arctic, the polar bears or the glaciers of the Himalayas. We intend to show, through interviews with elderly people who live in rural areas and who have worked in activities in close contact with nature, how climate change affects us, our society. To do this we have collected the perceptions that these older people, who can compare with a greater perspective the before with the now, have about the various manifestations of climate change in nature, in their professional activities, as well as distinguishing those changes caused directly by the hand of man. The choice of these people has been made with scientific criteria, looking for those informants who, because of their work and place of residence, are privileged observers of a reality that, for those of us who live in the city, goes more unnoticed, before the comforts offered by opening a faucet or turning on the air conditioning, but that do nothing more than hide a serious environmental alteration. The precise data collected, which go beyond mere personal opinion and are based on empirical, verifiable and measurable data, present us with an unquestionable reality: the drastic transformations of nature, affected by the reduction of precipitation and its lack of regularity, the increase of heat and its earlier arrival, as well as by the drastic reduction of winter snowfall and the delay of winter.
André Braga Junqueira
added 2 research items
In Amazonia, changes in the frequency and intensity of extreme climate events are occurring and expected to intensify, affecting food security with subsequent social and political problems. We conducted semi-structured interviews in communities of the mid-Solimões River basin (Amazonas, Brazil). Our questions were designed to construct seasonal calendars with residents (ribeirinhos) to understand climatic patterns and changes in livelihood activities, how traditional management is affected by extreme floods and droughts, and to identify their adaptation strategies in new climatic contexts. We studied three floodplain (várzea, n = 59 households) and three paleo-floodplain communities, situated 1-3 m higher than the floodplain (paleovárzea, n = 42 households). We show that these local communities have detailed knowledge of climate patterns and changes, and that they recognize that climatic unpredictability hinders effective planning of subsistence activities because their local knowledge is no longer fully reliable. Extreme climate events have consequences for their farming systems and associated agrobiodiversity, varying according to the degree of exposure of different environments to extreme events. During extreme events, ribeirinhos intensify adaptation strategies, such as avoiding stress to fruit-tree root systems, prioritizing plants that survive flooding, and working in less affected landscapes. Adaptation practices with long histories tend to occur more often in floodplains, and two adaptation practices were specific to floodplains. The impacts of extreme events on local communities are expected to increase, especially in environments more exposed to floods. Local residents suggest the documentation and sharing of adaptation strategies as a way to increase their resilience.
The fast and widespread environmental changes that have intensified in the last decades are bringing disproportionate impacts to Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities. Changes that affect water resources are particularly relevant for subsistence-based peoples, many of whom already suffer from constraints regarding reliable access to safe water. Particularly in areas where water is scarce, climate change is expected to amplify existing stresses in water availability, which are also exacerbated by multiple socioeconomic drivers. In this paper, we look into the local perceptions of environmental change expressed by the Daasanach people of northern Kenya, where the impacts of climate change overlap with those brought by large infrastructure projects recently established in the Omo River. We show that the Daasanach have rich and detailed understanding of changes in their environment, especially in relation to water resources. Daasanach understand observations of change in different elements of the social-ecological system as an outcome of complex interactions between climatic and non-climatic drivers of change. Our findings highlight the perceived synergistic effects of climate change and infrastructure projects in water resources, driving multiple and cascading impacts on biophysical elements and local livelihoods. Our results also demonstrate the potential of Local Ecological Knowledge in enhancing the understanding of complex social-ecological issues, such as the impacts of environmental change in local communities. To minimize and mitigate the social-ecological impacts of development projects, it is essential to consider potential synergies between climatic and socioeconomic factors and to ensure inclusive governance rooted in local understandings of environmental change.
Xiaoyue Li
added a research item
The use of wild edible plants and mushrooms can help to counteract the homogenisation of diets and decreasing resilience of food systems. We performed a systematic review to consolidate information about perceptions of wild edible plant and mushroom changes from the perspective of local communities. We found that 92% of all perceived changes of wild edibles relate to their decreased abundance. 76% of the wild edibles with perceived decreased abundance are fruits and vegetables and 23% crop wild relatives. The main drivers of decreased abundance are perceived to be land use change (38% of all taxa) and direct exploitation (31%). These changes have potential negative implications on food systems from local to global scales.
Victoria Reyes-García
added a research item
The Convention on Biological Diversity is defining the goals that will frame future global biodiversity policy in a context of rapid biodiversity decline and under pressure to make transformative change. Drawing on the work of Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars, we argue that transformative change requires the foregrounding of Indigenous peoples' and local communities' rights and agency in biodiversity policy. We support this argument with four key points. First, Indigenous peoples and local communities hold knowledge essential for setting realistic and effective biodiversity targets that simultaneously improve local livelihoods. Second, Indigenous peoples' conceptualizations of nature sustain and manifest CBD's 2050 vision of "Living in harmony with nature." Third, Indigenous peoples' and local communities' participation in biodiversity policy contributes to the recognition of human and Indigenous peoples' rights. And fourth, engagement in biodiversity policy is essential for Indigenous peoples and local communities to be able to exercise their recognized rights to territories and resources.
Victoria Reyes-García
added a research item
Indigenous Peoples and local communities have implemented myriad responses to deal with and mitigate climate change impacts. However, little effort has been invested in compiling, aggregating, and systematizing such responses to assess global patterns in local adaptation. Drawing on a systematic review of 119 peer-reviewed publications with 1851 reported local responses to climate change impacts, we show that Indigenous Peoples and local communities across the world apply a diverse portfolio of activities to address climate change impacts. While many responses involve changes to natural resource based livelihoods, about one-third of responses involve other activities (e.g. networking, off-farm work). Globally, local responses to climate change impacts are more likely to be shaped by people’s livelihood than by the climate zone where they live.
Vanesse Labeyrie
added a research item
Homogenization of crop portfolios from the field to the global scale is raising concerns about agricultural adaptation to climate change. Assessing whether such trends threaten farmers’ long-term adaptive capacity requires a thorough understanding of changes in their crop portfolios, identification of the drivers of change, and the implications such changes have for local nutrition and food production. We reviewed the available literature on farmers’ reports of climate-driven crop changes. Small-scale farmers tend to adopt water-demanding crops, even in areas where models predict that reduced rainfall will reduce yields. The adoption of horticultural cash-crops combined with the abandonment of subsistence cereals modifies farmers’ nutritional inputs in terms of calories and nutrients, potentially undermining their food security. Farmers’ knowledge contributes to understand trends in crop diversity and support the design of strategies for adaptation to climate change.
Victoria Reyes-García
added an update
Dear colleague,
Increasing pressures to make the academic sector consistent with the climate goals of the Paris Agreement and experiences of new ways of conducting research developed during the current sanitary crisis (e.g., https://lifestyle-changes.org;) have led us to write a letter suggesting the establishment of new rules that coordinate the decarbonization of research activities.
We want to submit this letter to an academic journal, but we think that our petition will be stronger if supported by scientists from several disciplines and academic fields. We are thus, requesting you to read this short letter and, if in agreement, sign it by providing the information requested. The letter can be signed until the coming Sunday 31st May.
We will appreciate if you can disseminate the initiative in your networks
You can find the letter here
The LICCI team
 
David Garcia del Amo
added an update
Victoria Reyes-García
added 2 research items
Current research on the local impacts of climate change is based on contrasting results from the simulation of historical trends in climatic variables produced with global models against climate data from independent observations. To date, these observations have mostly consisted of weather data from standardized meteorological stations. Given that the spatial distribution of weather stations is patchy, climate scientists have called for the exploration of new data sources. Knowledge developed by Indigenous Peoples and local communities with a long history of interaction with their environment has been proposed as a data source with untapped potential to contribute to our understanding of the local impacts of climate change. In this chapter, we discuss an approach that aims to bring insights from local knowledge systems to climate change research. First, we present a number of theoretical arguments that give support to the idea that local knowledge systems can contribute in original ways to the endeavors of climate change research. Then, we explore the potential of using information and communication technologies to gather and share local knowledge of climate change impacts. We do so through the examination of a citizen science initiative aiming to collect local indicators of climate change impacts: the LICCI project (www.licci.eu). Our findings illustrate that citizen science can inspire new approaches to articulate the inclusion of local knowledge systems in climate change research. However, this requires outlining careful approaches, with high ethical standards, toward knowledge validation and recognizing that there are aspects of local ecological knowledge that are incommensurable with scientific knowledge.
Local communities’ dependence on the environment for their livelihood has guided the development of indicators of local weather and climate variability. These indicators are encoded in different forms of oral knowledge. We explore whether people recognize and perceive as accurate one type of such forms of oral knowledge, climate-related proverbs. We conducted research in the Alta Alpujarra Occidental, Sierra Nevada, Spain. We collected locally recognized proverbs and classified them according to whether they referred to the climatic, the physical, or the biological system. We then conducted questionnaires (n = 97) to assess informant’s ability to recognize a selection of 30 locally relevant proverbs and their perception of the accuracy of the proverb. Climate-related proverbs are abundant and relatively well recognized even though informants consider that many proverbs are not accurate nowadays. Although proverbs’ perceived accuracy varied across informant’s age, level of schooling, and area of residence, overall proverb’s lack of reported accuracy goes in line with climate change trends documented by scientists working in the area. While our findings are limited to a handful of proverbs, they suggest that the identification of mismatches and discrepancies between people’s reports of proverb (lack of) accuracy and scientific assessments could be used to guide future research on climate change impacts.
David Garcia del Amo
added a research item
Researchers have documented that observations of climate change impacts reported by indigenous peoples and local communities coincide with scientific measurements of such impacts. However, insights from indigenous and local knowledge are not yet completely included in international climate change research and policy fora. In this article, we compare observations of climate change impacts detected by indigenous peoples and local communities from around the world and collected through a literature review (n = 198 case studies) with climate scientists’ opinions on the relevance of such information for climate change research. Scientists’ opinions were collected through a web survey among climate change researchers from universities and research centres in Spain (n = 191). In the survey, we asked about the need to collect local-level data regarding 68 different groups of indicators of climate change impacts to improve the current knowledge and about the feasibility of using indigenous and local knowledge in climate change studies. Results show consensus on the need to continue collecting local-level data from all groups of indicators to get a better understanding of climate change impacts, particularly on impacts on the biological system. However, while scientists of our study considered that indigenous and local knowledge could mostly contribute to detect climate change impacts on the biological and socioeconomic systems, the literature review shows that information on impacts on these systems is rarely collected; researchers instead have mostly documented the impacts on the climatic and physical systems reported by indigenous and local knowledge.
Victoria Reyes-García
added an update
Victoria Reyes-García ICREA Research Professor at the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) is one of the 76 top researchers that will receive ERC Proof of Concept grants. This top-up funding is awarded to ERC grantees to explore the innovation potential of their scientific discoveries and bring the results of their frontier research closer to market or society. This final injection of €11.4 million pushes the total number of ERC Proof of Concept funded projects during 2019 to 200. With the additional money researchers can, for example, investigate business opportunities, establish intellectual property rights, conduct technical validation, or explore the social benefits of their frontier research findings.
The new grant will help the LICCI team, led by Victoria Reyes-García, to create an Indigenous Climate Change Impacts Observation Network (ICCION) oriented to bring Indigenous knowledge and perspectives to climate change policy fora.
The ERC project Local Indicators of Climate Change Impacts (LICCI) explores the potential of Indigenous and local knowledge (ILK) to contribute to climate research, but only tangentially addresses the marginalized position faced by Indigenous Peoples and local communities (IPLC) to bring their knowledge and perspectives to climate change research and policy fora. This new project will contribute to bring IPLC’s knowledge and perspectives to climate change policy fora 1) by engaging with IPLC on the co-design of a digital Indigenous Climate Change Impacts Observation Network (ICCION) and 2) by engaging with the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform (LCIPP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which has the mandate to strengthen the role played by IPLC in addressing and responding to climate change.
The Proof of Concept grant amounts to a total of €150,000 for an 18-month period, which in this case will go towards the creation of an Indigenous Climate Change Impacts Observation Network.
ICCION is an innovative response to the IPCC call for more ground level data as it will expand the geographical and temporal coverage of data collection on local indicators of climate change impacts. Moreover, partnering with IPLC and international organizations constitutes an important social innovation, as these alliances might facilitate IPLC effective participation in climate change science-policy fora. Finally, ICCION innovates in developing technological solutions to address technical (i.e., low internet access) and social concerns (i.e., Indigenous data sovereignty) that are of particular relevance for IPLC, but which have often been neglected in other technological developments.
The long-term establishment of the observation network proposed here will contribute to give IPLC a more relevant voice in global climate policy fora, not only by informing climate change impact research, but also making it more socially acceptable.
 
Victoria Reyes-García
added an update
Call for papers on Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change on the Journal of Ethnobiology
 
Xiaoyue Li
added an update
LICCI's 2nd call for collaborations is now open until September 8th, 2019 (11:59pm Central European Summer Time). Please check detailed information on the website. https://licci.eu/second-call-is-now-open/
Feel free to contact LICCI team through licci.communication@uab.cat if you have questions.
 
Petra Benyei
added a research item
Indigenous and local knowledge (ILK) is critical for conservation. Yet, gaps in published research on ILK might bias assessments that largely rely on it. Such fragmented documentation calls for alternative approaches to bring ILK into conservation.
Victoria Reyes-García
added an update
As part of the dissemination strategy, you can find project's updates in
 
Victoria Reyes-García
added an update
We are looking for a PhD student for this project. Check the call
 
Victoria Reyes-García
added a project goal
LICCI is an ERC funded project that aims to bring insights from indigenous and local knowledge to climate research.
People with a long history of interaction with the environment have developed complex knowledge systems that allow them to detect local impacts of climatic variability, but these insights are absent in climate change research and policy fora. The LICCI project will bring insights from local knowledge to climate research by
1) providing data on local climate change impacts on physical (e.g., shrinking glaciers) and biological systems (e.g., phenological changes) and on perceptions of climate change impacts on socioeconomic systems (e.g., crop failure due to rainfall patterns change) and
2) testing hypotheses on the global spatial, socioeconomic and demographic distribution of local climate change impacts indicators.
The LICCI project started in June 2018 and will end in May 2023.