Ecosystem-Based Adaptation for Food Security in the AIMS SIDS: Integrating External and Local Knowledge
1. SIDS and Food Security
2. Ecosystem-Based Adaptation and Food Security in a Changing Climate
|No||Methodology & Pilot Site of Implementation||Strengths||Limitations||Opportunities for EbA approaches for food security in a changing climate.|
|Participatory Planning Methods and Approaches|
|1.||Integrated Community-based Risk Reduction (piloted in the Maldives) ||Focuses on obtaining mutual understanding between inside and outside stakeholders. |
Incorporates all basic societal functions including food security and how these are interconnected within and across a community.
Enables stakeholders to determine jointly the levels of risk and how to address them.
Considers both rapid and creeping changes to vulnerabilities and capacities across ecosystems, rather than isolating a specific disaster, hazard or climate change related hazard .
Further develops and expands the Process Framework (see the next row).
|Only tested in part on one island in the Maldives, so further work is required to determine the method’s efficacy. |
Focused upon one hazard–tsunamis. Need to create multi-hazard scenarios in any future implementation/use of method.
Need to determine how to consider changes over multiple time scenarios to incorporate future climate projections; the present model does not consider time scenarios beyond ten years .
A lengthy and time-consuming process.
|A holistic approach addressing identified risk in a specific area offers the potential to utilize an EbA approach incorporating food security and climate change. |
An EbA approach facilitates an integrated community-based risk reduction process as, by definition, all ecosystems, their services and their societal interactions would be included.
|2.||Process Framework (piloted in Papua New Guinea) [31,32].||Assists community members in identifying and relating to changing vulnerability patterns and how their activities could have contributed to the changes. |
Encourages a proactive response amongst community members for addressing their own vulnerability.
Uses available knowledge thereby identifying options which can be implemented by communities immediately to reduce their risk.
Provides a simple process which is easy to follow and manage by community members.
|Scientific information is not frequently available in a format which local communities are able to understand and use. |
The process is facilitated by outsiders, whereas facilitators should preferably be local people for understanding the local context.
As with all participatory techniques, there is a risk of introducing facilitator bias rather than enabling community members to reach decisions and consensus based on an exploration of their own situation.
Specific tools or methods are not provided for building trust amongst stakeholders .
|Developing mutual understanding amongst inside and outside stakeholders offers enormous potential for implementing EbA approaches for food security in a changing climate. |
This methodology addresses the underlying principles of EbA and could easily be replicated and expanded to implement EbA approaches for food security in a changing climate.
|3.||Risk and Vulnerability Assessment Methodology (RiVAMP) (piloted in Jamaica) ||Focuses on governance to identify opportunities for influencing policy and initiating change. |
Technical analyses are balanced with local knowledge and real-life experiences to identify ecosystem benefits and drivers of ecosystem degradation.
Helps to analyse links amongst ecosystems, drivers of ecosystem degradation, and socio-economic vulnerability.
|Focused on coastal ecosystems, tropical cyclones and their associated effects, so it will not fully assist the locations which lie near the equator, and so rarely experience tropical cyclones, such as Singapore and much of the Maldives. |
The donor purchased scientific data and tools, an expense potentially beyond the local level.
Further education is required to enable communities to understand linkages amongst ecosystem degradation, food security and climate change impacts prior to using tool.
The methodology focuses upon governance and power structures, yet a full assessment of local governance is not undertaken, even though that is needed for ecosystem protection and for addressing food insecurity and climate change impacts.
|Highlights the importance of ecosystems in addressing food insecurity and climate change impacts. |
Potential exists to expand beyond coastal ecosystems and beyond tropical cyclones.
It already takes an EbA approach and integrates local and outside knowledge. A focus upon food security and climate change impacts naturally follows.
|4.||Adaptive Co-Management and Cooperative Research (utilised in many SIDS especially in the Pacific and Caribbean regions) [35,36,37].||Emphasises group decision making accommodating diverse views and shared learning . |
Recognises that multiple sources of knowledge are critical to problem-solving and emphasises trust building, institutional development and social learning.
Provides a process for mediating conflict and addressing power dynamics .
Builds on culturally embedded formal and informal rules and norms to form horizontal and vertical networks.
Enhances the capacity of resource management organizations to respond proactively to uncertainty.
Can contribute to trans-generational transfer of local knowledge through youth engagement .
Enables collaborators to develop a shared cross-cultural understanding of the research .
|Creating the social and institutional space for the necessary interactions is a difficult task. |
Requires multi-level governance arrangements.
The formalized nature of interactions between locals and government can create barriers to participation.
Establishing effective institutional arrangements and trust takes time.
An in-depth governance assessment is required to understand society dynamics and power structures prior to implementing adaptive co-management structures.
Adaptive co-management processes are slow or will fail to develop unless policy environments support multi-level learning networks, and, in turn, scientists and others are rewarded for participating in these networks.
It often focuses upon one specific area or sector rather than the multiple interactions existing between ecosystems and their services.
|Has been used for specific ecosystems, e.g., marine protected areas in Fiji  and food sectors, e.g., fisheries in Ghana , and is starting to be used to address the challenges of climate change adaptation [41,42]. |
A large amount of literature, knowledge and practice exists for using such a methodology for EbA approaches for food security in a changing climate.
An opportunity exists to expand the approach to include all ecosystems as opposed to a sole focus upon one specific area or sector.
|5.||Participatory Planning Processes (utilised in a large number of SIDS especially by non-governmental and local organisations) ||Enables stakeholders to appraise, analyse and address issues through recognising and sharing all available knowledge in order to reach agreed upon, acceptable solutions. |
Effective consultation can lead to high-impact results .
Plans are formally signed and owned by government, private agencies and communities with responsibilities allocated to each body, reinforcing the significance of “partnership”.
It is easier to implement and maintain within smaller countries like SIDS.
An integrated viewpoint can be taken, successfully linking knowledge bases to address development challenges including ecosystem degradation, food security and climate change [43,44].
Can be led by local officials and community members.
Visual photographs can be used to aid discussions and to link local and outside expertise.
It blends traditional decision-making systems with contemporary ones, so the process is flexible and adaptive.
|It is time consuming and costly to directly consult with large numbers of people. |
It increases the workload on government staff.
It is difficult to keep all agencies involved motivated throughout the lengthy process.
Often, there is a gender bias with a tendency for men to be more outspoken and for women to sit in the background.
The influence of participatory planning processes and their impact upon community livelihoods and food security needs to be further explored and analysed .
|The principal interest of the majority of communities worldwide is secure livelihoods, for which ecosystems and their services are essential. Using EbA approaches would address food security, climate change and other concerns related to ecosystem services. This would significantly strengthen the resilience of community livelihoods to external impacts such as climate change while enhancing food security. |
Experiences and knowledge from the development of participatory planning processes to reduce climate vulnerability for coastal communities and ecosystems in Samoa  could be used to develop EbA approaches for other ecosystems which specifically address food security and climate change concerns.
There is a need to reconcile EbA approaches for food security in a changing climate with existing management systems (see ).
|6.||Strengthening Resilience of Coastal and Small Island Communities (implemented in Timor-Leste) ||Not a specific methodology, but rather a process developed within a specific project to integrate local and external knowledge for strengthening resilience to hydro-meteorological hazards and climate change impacts. |
Identified opportunities to integrate and mainstream local knowledge into local and national disaster risk management processes.
Developed a checklist for communities and governments (local and national) to help identify and integrate local knowledge with scientific knowledge.
Established a participatory process with communities and scientists whereby local knowledge was validated .
|Has not been implemented beyond a single SIDS (Timor-Leste) or islands and coastal areas of Philippines and Indonesia. |
Currently implemented in isolation as a project rather than being integrated within other local development plans and processes in order to ensure sustainability in the long term. Further policy support is needed at the national level.
Focuses upon coastal areas, but an EbA approach was not taken.
Links amongst food security, climate change, and the impacts of hydro-meteorological hazards need to be further explored through an ecosystem-based approach.
|A potential opportunity exists to widen the focus of this project beyond coastal areas utilizing the knowledge and expertise built up in these areas. |
The focus upon climate change and hydro-meteorological hazards is clearly linked to food security and would benefit from an EbA approach.
There would be benefit in exploring the transferability of local knowledge identified in developing EbA approaches for food security in a changing climate .
|Participatory Planning Tools|
|1.||General Participatory Tools (utilised in a large number of SIDS especially by non-governmental and local organisations) .||Listening instead of lecturing to learn from local knowledge. |
The emphasis is on visual techniques, theatre and story-telling as opposed to written techniques, ensuring that those with limited literacy can participate and engage.
Enables the verification of information using a range of overlapping methods.
Focuses on community strengths rather than dwelling on weaknesses.
Identifies and empowers local analysts.
Potentially establishes a common ground for communication which demystifies science.
|There is a tendency to over-romanticise local knowledge when it may not always be applicable or appropriate. |
Community expectations are often raised beyond what can be delivered.
Using participatory tools can take time.
It is often difficult to engage outside experts in local level assessments and planning, so instead need to link with wider local and national government processes.
It can be difficult to integrate scientific and local knowledge and expertise in terms of climate change.
Whilst these techniques enable the identification of knowledge, they do not necessarily facilitate integration, so further steps are needed .
|There is a large range of participatory tools which facilitates the integration of knowledge for DRR, including CCA, which would equally be replicable for EbA for food security in a changing climate (see ). |
International conservation organisations such as IUCN have developed a number of documents outlining guidelines and principles for EbA, utilizing participatory techniques which are also appropriate for EbA approaches for food security in a changing climate [19,49].
|2.||Participatory 3-D Mapping (utilised in a number of SIDS e.g., Solomon Islands and Trinidad and Tobago) .||Is a collaborative, low-cost activity involving a wide range of stakeholders . |
Participants are able to plot desired criteria, e.g., resources, landmarks, environmental features, and household occupants, contributing to the credibility of local knowledge.
Facilitates interpretation, assimilation and understanding of geo-referenced information by making it visible and tangible .
Raises local awareness of territories, provides stakeholders with powerful mediums for land use management and serves as an effective community organising tool .
As maps are scaled and geo-referenced, scientists are rigorously able to integrate their own knowledge with local knowledge.
|Material is prepared by facilitators first, e.g., a scaled and geo-referenced base map using Geographical Information Systems (GIS). This means the methodology is not necessarily replicable by communities who may not have access to or understand this technology. |
If not carefully facilitated, maps may be used by facilitators to either replace local conceptions of territory or impose their own worldviews .
It is difficult to map all dimensions of vulnerability and capacity, e.g., social networks.
Because all knowledge and mapping is made public, some elements might not be revealed by the community, such as gender-based violence.
|This tool has been widely employed for DRR and CCA activities and is starting to be used within EbA (e.g., ) from which lessons could be learnt for EbA approaches for food security under climate change.|
|3.||Scenario Planning (utilised in several SIDS including Papua New Guinea) .||Scenario models are flexible, transparent and able to use narratives to describe possible futures in all their complexity and hence are suitable for examining food security issues in a changing climate. |
Suited to engagement with stakeholders who do not have scientific backgrounds.
Scenarios can integrate knowledge and underlying epistemologies of different actors .
Comprises information at multiple scales, plus scenarios help to identify drivers of change that are both exogenous and endogenous to the system of interest.
Scenarios can be used to evaluate knowledge by (a) indicating where knowledge needs to be updated as new information is available or perceptions change; (b) assessing the relevance and credibility of scientific knowledge and (c) revisiting assumptions underpinning scenarios.
Scenario planning provides a mechanism for integrating knowledge temporally (into the future) as well as spatially.
|Scenarios do not integrate knowledge explicitly, but rather implicitly through building stories based on different information sources . |
Scenarios risk being a “knowledge dump”, whereby issues of accuracy and precision, weighting, standardization and resolution of discrepancies do not often receive attention .
Scenarios developed are qualitative only, so they do not include many quantitative aspects.
There is often a trade-off between giving too little information to enable participants to analyse future scenarios and giving too much information which could introduce a bias.
Ample space and time is necessary to accommodate differences in opinion and to reach consensus.
|Scenario planning has been utilized for ecosystem management (e.g., [56,57]), for strengthening livelihoods in light of climate change (e.g., ) and for community resilience (e.g., ). In addition, scenario planning has been used as a method to link science and policy on food security under climate change in East Africa (e.g., ). Lessons for EbA for food security in a changing climate could be drawn from all these studies. |
It would facilitate the analysis of multiple ecosystems and their services by a large range of stakeholders, thereby enabling food security and climate change concerns to be identified and addressed where necessary.
|4.||Participatory GIS (utilised for different purposes in a large number of SIDS) .||Provides a stimulating forum for inter-disciplinary analysis allowing physical and social scientists and communities to participate in rigorous evaluations of dissimilar data . |
Produces maps of varied scales and content related to different actors and process purposes.
Helps promote more robust community decision-making.
Has the potential to contribute positively to good governance by improving dialogue, legitimizing and using local knowledge, generating some redistribution of resource access and control rights, and enabling local community groups by means of new skills training .
Improves transparency and visibility of relationships between communities and local government.
Legitimises local knowledge and enables accessibility by outside stakeholders .
|Fails to address boundaries as identified by local participants, although GPS can be used to counter-act this and geo-reference point data. |
Has difficulty including all intricate details of local knowledge.
The translation of community boundaries onto maps using GIS is often inadequate for spatial analysis.
|As with participatory 3-D mapping, this tool is also in the early stages of use for ecosystem-based management (e.g., ). Lessons for its use may be drawn from its wider application and use in integrating knowledge bases within DRR including CCA.|
- EbA promotes multi-sectoral approaches;
- EbA operates at multiple geographic scales;
- EbA integrates flexible management structures that enable adaptive management;
- EbA minimizes trade-offs and maximizes benefits with development and conservation goals to avoid unintended negative social and environmental impacts;
- EbA is based on the best available science and local knowledge, and should foster knowledge generation and diffusion;
- EbA is about promoting resilient ecosystems and using nature-based solutions to provide benefits to people, especially the most vulnerable;
- EbA must be participatory, transparent, accountable, and culturally appropriate, while actively embracing equity and gender issues.
3. Combining Knowledge Forms for SIDS
|2012||The Seychelles||Conservation of rare local food crops for diversity in the region of Val D’Andorre .||Ecosystem approach. |
Use of local knowledge.
Addressing food security.
|2009–2014||The Maldives||Community Integration in Marine Conversation, Research and Management through the establishment of Voluntary Marine Conservation Areas .||Ecosystem approach covering marine ecosystems. |
Participatory approach involving local and external stakeholders.
Improves food security for local fishers and their families through regeneration of marine life and biodiversity.
|2012||Tonga||Investigating local EbA initiatives ||Specific focus on EbA (and CBA). |
Provides lessons from local initiatives on EbA.
Stresses the importance of local knowledge.
Stresses the importance of EbA for food security in a changing climate.
|2007–2014||Coral Triangle including SIDS of Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste and Papua New Guinea||Coral Reefs, Fisheries, and Food Security: |
Integrated Approaches to Addressing
Multiple Challenges in the Coral Triangle .
|An EbA approach stressing importance of all ecosystems but with a focus on marine and coastal. |
Builds upon local knowledge.
Addresses food security in a changing climate.
|2013–2014||Vanuatu||South Pentecost Community: EbA .||An EbA approach focusing on multiple ecosystems. |
Addresses food security and climate change concerns.
Uses existing knowledge and practices.
|2012||Caribbean SIDS||Food Security, Women Smallholders and Climate Change in Caribbean SIDS .||Research brief outlining the need for urgent action with regards to food security and climate change. |
Stresses the importance of ecosystem approaches in this process.
Refers to the use of local resources and knowledge.
- Participatory planning methodologies and approaches including: (a) Integrated CBDRR ; (b) Process Frameworks [31,32]; (c) Risk and Vulnerability Assessment Methodology (RiVAMP) ; (d) Adaptive Co-Management and Cooperative Research [35,36,37]; (e) Participatory Planning Processes ; and (f) Strengthening Resilience of Coastal and Small Island Communities .
- Networks or consortia (for which two examples are given, discussed below).
4. EbA, Food Security, and AIMS SIDS under Climate Change
|Cape Verde||Comoros||Guinea-Bissau||The Maldives||Mauritius||São Tomé and Principe||The Seychelles||Singapore||Bahrain|
|Archipelagic status||10 islands and 8 islets||3 major islands and many minor islets||Borders North Atlantic Ocean between Guinea and Senegal.||1190 coral islands grouped into 26 natural atolls||1 main island and a large number of smaller islands and islets.||2 islands and several islets||155 islands||1 island and 63 smaller islets||33 islands|
|Highest elevation||2829 m||2360 m||300 m||2.4 m||828 m||2024 m||905 m||166 m||122 m|
|Natural Resources||Salt, limestone, fish||Arable land, Fish||Fish, timber, phosphate, arable land||Fish||Arable land, fish||Fish, hydropower||Fish, copra.||Fish||Fossil fuels, natural gas, fish and pearls|
|Main ecosystem-based livelihoods||Fisheries, tourism.||Smallholder agriculture, fisheries and forestry.||Agriculture, timber, fisheries, tourism||Fisheries and Tourism.||Agriculture, fisheries, property development.||Cocoa, Fisheries||Fisheries||Fisheries||Fisheries|
4.1. Regional Level Action in AIMS SIDS
4.2. National Level Action in AIMS SIDS
4.3. Local Level Action in AIMS SIDS
5. Discussion: Gaps and Actions
Gap 1: Ecosystems are strongly connected with food security and climate resilience, yet there is little connection with food and climate policy and action at national and local levels.
Gap 3: EbA stresses the need to build on local knowledge, yet integrating local and external knowledge for EbA approaches for food security in AIMS-region SIDS rarely occurs in practice.
Action 1: Identify and highlight local and external knowledge for EbA for food security in a changing climate.
Action 2: Draw upon past knowledge and practice.
Action 3: Use local champions.
Action 4: Monitor and evaluate regularly, including in-depth reviews of ongoing work and gaps.
6. Conclusions: The AIMS-region SIDS and Beyond
Conflicts of Interest
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© 2014 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/).
Mercer, J.; Kurvits, T.; Kelman, I.; Mavrogenis, S. Ecosystem-Based Adaptation for Food Security in the AIMS SIDS: Integrating External and Local Knowledge. Sustainability 2014, 6, 5566-5597. https://doi.org/10.3390/su6095566
Mercer J, Kurvits T, Kelman I, Mavrogenis S. Ecosystem-Based Adaptation for Food Security in the AIMS SIDS: Integrating External and Local Knowledge. Sustainability. 2014; 6(9):5566-5597. https://doi.org/10.3390/su6095566Chicago/Turabian Style
Mercer, Jessica, Tiina Kurvits, Ilan Kelman, and Stavros Mavrogenis. 2014. "Ecosystem-Based Adaptation for Food Security in the AIMS SIDS: Integrating External and Local Knowledge" Sustainability 6, no. 9: 5566-5597. https://doi.org/10.3390/su6095566