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

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - LICCI (Local Indicators of Climate Change Impacts. The Contribution of Local Knowledge to Climate Change Research)

Reporting period: 2018-06-01 to 2019-11-30

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.
The implementation of the project during the first 18 months of its execution has followed the original plan with no significant deviations. Below is a brief summary of the progress of the project:

Preparation: The preparation phase of the project concluded as planned. This included: 1) the recruitment of the entire core team, 2) methodological development, 3) the pilot testing of the methods in six different societies: the Tsimane’ in Bolivia, the Bassari in Senegal, the Betsileo in Madagascar, the Daashanash in Kenia, the Akha in China, and the Rivereños of Juruá in Brazil 4) the selection and training of 42 partners through three one-week workshops. This network of collaborators, with a common understanding of the project, will collect data in different bioclimatic regions and subsistence livelihoods. During the Preparation phase, the LICCI core team has also started the development of a web-based platform to collect additional data on local indicators of climate change impacts using citizen science. We have additionally created a portable application for smart phones for the same purpose.

Data collection: Field data collection has started. At this moment, two core-team members and 23 external partners are collecting data in their field sites. Field data collection by core team members and partners is scheduled to last until December 2020.

Analysis: So far, analysis have centered in a review of literature (Reyes-García et al. 2019) and analysis of data collected during pilot testing (two articles are being drafted).

Dissemination: We envisage dissemination as a continuous process from the project’s beginning to its ending. Consequently, we have created a webpage, which is permanently updated. We also send quarterly newsletter to inform about project progress. At this moment, 599 persons have subscribed to our newsletter. We also did a leaflet and recorded the trainings to make a short video to disseminate the project. LICCI core team members have also participated in five conferences for the dissemination of the project during the recruitment phase.

Milestones: We achieved all the milestones planned for this reporting period except one. We had planned to launch the web-based platform by June 2019, but had suffered some delay due to the creation of a web-based instrument for internal use. Despite the delay, the citizen science web-based platform is now in its testing phase and we expect to launch it on March 2020 (

Ethical reports: The two reports expected for this period are completed. We submitted de Data Management Platform, and the First Ethical Report.
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:;
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