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

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - LICCI (Local Indicators of Climate Change Impacts. The Contribution of Local Knowledge to Climate Change Research)

Reporting period: 2019-12-01 to 2021-05-31

In the quest to better understand local climate change impacts on physical, biological, and socioeconomic systems and how such impacts are locally perceived, scientists are challenged by the scarcity of grounded data, which has resulted in a call for exploring new data sources. 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.
Research will last five years. During the first 18 months, Preparation phase, the project supervisor will train a core team who will develop and implement a data collection protocol and design a citizen science platform. During the following two years, Data collection phase, the LICCI team will train 40 external partners to collect project’s data. During the last 18 months, Analysis phase, the core team will use spatial matching and multivariate analysis to test the project’s hypotheses. Partners will analyze local data. Dissemination will be transversal to the project. This project will fill theoretical and spatial gaps on climate change impacts research. It will also contribute to improve local capacity to respond to climate change impacts and help bridge epistemological differences between local and scientific knowledge systems.
During the current 36 months of execution, the implementation of the project followed the original plan with no significant deviations until the COVID-19 pandemic erupted in March 2020. Below is a summary of the progress of the project:

Preparation: The preparation phase of the project concluded at the end of 2019, as planned. This included: 1) the recruitment of the core team; 2) the development of data collection protocols.; 3) the pilot testing of the methods in six different societies; and 4) the selection and training of 42 partners through three one-week workshops (June, September, November 2019). During the Preparation phase, we also started developing a web-based platform to collect additional data on local indicators of climate change impacts using citizen science.

Data collection: Field data collection started in 2019, but it was suddenly interrupted in March 2020 due to the eruption of the COVID-19 pandemic. We designed a coping plan to deal with the pandemic situation. At this moment, five core team members and 44 external partners funded by the project are committed to collect data by August 2021. We have also started to collect data with the citizen science platform OpenTEK (opentek.eu).

Analysis: We published six peer-reviewed scientific articles, one book chapter, and directed four master theses. As well as, given the difficulties to collect primary data during the years 2020 and 2021, we shifted part of the team effort to the review of the literature and the analysis of case studies for sites where partners were able to collect data. We did so by organizing five online writing workshops in which 18 participants (core members and partners) have worked on 27 writing projects. In May 2021, we hired a data scientist to help the project with the systematization and analysis of data.

Dissemination: We have created a webpage, which is permanently updated. We also send a quarterly newsletter to inform about project progress and are present on social media. We also did a leaflet and recorded the training to make a short video to disseminate the project. LICCI core team members have also participated in scientific conferences and radio interviews and organized a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) open in September 2021.

Milestones: We achieved four out of the five milestones planned for this reporting period, including the development of the methods, the launch of the web-based platform, the completion of pilot testing, and the external partners' training. The fifth milestone was the completion of external partners' data collection. We suffer a delay on this milestone due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but we expect to have the data by August 2021.

Ethical reports: The three reports expected for this period are completed, and we have submitted and updated the Data Management Platform and the Ethical Reports through the period.
Previous climate change research has advanced our understanding of climate change’s global magnitude; however, its methods have not been able to detect impacts on social-ecological systems and have overlooked the importance of indigenous and local knowledge (ILK) to assess and mitigate climate change. The LICCI project seeks to overcome this gap by showing the potential of ILK to improve our understanding of local climate change impacts on physical, biological, and socioeconomic systems. In that sense, LICCI contributes to scientific progress beyond the current state of the art by:

1) building an inventory of local indicators of climate change on physical and biological systems (on going); 2) identifying i) spatial patterns in local climate change impacts indicators and ii) socioeconomic and iii) demographic patterns in the perceived impacts (on going); developing a standardized protocol for the collection of data on local indicators of climate change and their perceived impacts (completed: https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.11513511.v2); 3) training a cadre of researchers able i) to bring local knowledge insights to climate change research and ii) to do so in an inclusive and open manner (e.g. making accessible protocols, data, and results) (completed); 4) creating a baseline repository with primary information on local indicators of climate change available for different uses (e.g. design of adaptation policies, input to climate models) (on going); and 5) creating a wide network of researchers, practitioners, and civil society interested in exploring how local knowledge systems contribute to our understanding of climate change impacts (on going).

The project expects to gather multi-site grounded data combining scientific qualitative and quantitative methods, citizen science, and community-based environmental monitoring initiatives. These data collection will fill data gaps regarding climate change impacts on the biophysical world directly answering the call of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to develop the evidence base for the potential contribution of local knowledge to climate research. Moreover, these data will contribute to research on the human dimensions of climate change and potentially guide mitigation policies by understanding the perceived impacts of climate change on local livelihoods. The project will also permit to upscale ILK-based observations of climate change impacts in a coordinated way. Finally, we expect that our results will allow synergies across different knowledge systems documenting climate change impacts, giving a more relevant voice to indigenous peoples and local communities within international science-policy processes.
Semi-structured interviews with Bassari people in Senegal