Supporting local women with knowledge on climate change - Latin America

Researchers are working with local communities to integrate science with local knowledge in stimulating women-led management of natural resources. This activity, called “A learning arena to support local women with knowledge on climate change,” focuses on three case studies where environmental challenges are being made more urgent by climate change. The research involves local women in identifying key variables of environmental problems and developing sustainable solutions.

Fast facts:

  • 11 research and civil society organizations involved in the learning arena

  • Three different case studies in Latin America

The problem

Research is often disconnected from practical application and policy, while local knowledge is often not adequately considered in development of policy. Governance problems frequently arise as a result of the lacking interface among research institutions, local communities, and policy-makers.

The solution

“A learning arena to support local women with knowledge on climate change” – initially triggered by the Community-based Management of Environmental challenges in Latin America project – links research institutions, local women, and policy-makers in analyzing environmental problems and developing solutions. The project focuses on three case studies: water and biodiversity in Afro-Colombian communities on the Pacific Coast in Colombia; forests in Oaxaca, Mexico; and coastal areas of the Bahia Blanca estuary in Argentina.

With a special focus on the needs of women and their role in communities, the project aims to create an arena for exchange, with the ultimate goal of women-led, sustainable, community-based governance in natural resource management.

Helping the planet

Better management of natural resources in the case study areas would help conserve freshwater resources, biodiversity, forests, and coastal areas there. Natural resource management also needs to be adapted in the face of climate change, and potential new problems anticipated to allow for mitigation and/or adaptation. Research aspects of the project include modeling to consider various potential environmental scenarios, which contributes to a science-based approach to natural resource management.

Helping people

The project’s participatory approach, involving workshops and field trips, promotes involvement of local communities in policy-making. Better natural resource management will ensure that the communities can continue to depend on them and survive in the face of climate change. Case studies on the Colombia coast and in the forest of Mexico include common property rights, which are being integrated into resource management models. Preserving common property rights could help ensure that communities remain owners of traditional lands, and continue to benefit from them. And, adding a gender perspective to natural resource management policies specifically benefits and empowers women.

Spillover effect

Such learning arenas can be developed at other locations with similar communities and problems to those in the case studies. The method could also be applied to other communities that have different problems. Local knowledge can be combined with scientific research to develop women-oriented policy in many fields around the world.

Images owned by the activity partners, all rights reserved.