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Climate and Development

Indigenous knowledge for climate adaptation in the water sector

Submission Deadline
15 June 2020

About this Special Issue

Indigenous knowledge is embedded in social institutions (Naess, 2013), particular places, relationships and practices (Muir, 2010) and often uses holistic frameworks that bring together natural and spiritual worldviews (Boillat and Berkes, 2013; Cochran et al., 2013). While there has been a push for evidence-based approaches in the integration of indigenous knowledge in formal academic assessments (e.g. IPBES Tengö et al., 2014; Tengö et al., 2017), positivistic Western science still devalues indigenous knowledge and does not recognize its centrality in the ongoing process of adaptation to climate change. Too often, Western scientists re-enact the extractive nature of colonialism through the dominance of the Western positivistic approach over different worldviews by writing on behalf of indigenous communities or trying to interpret their adaptation approaches. We argue, particularly that explicit attention needs to be paid to differential adaptation strategies to water-related hazards and to political and cultural sovereignty of indigenous groups from other marginalized groups in over water rights and usage (Cameron, 2012; Ford et al., 2016).

In this special issue we hence invite indigenous scholars and scholars writing with indigenous communities to contribute with their experiences on climate change adaptation in relation to water-related hazards e.g. floods, droughts, heavy precipitations, glacier melting and in the water sector through agriculture, energy, WASH, mobility, freshwater ecosystems both in urban, peri-urban and rural areas all across the globe. We look for examples of both successful and failed adaptation to be able to draw out the enabling principles of successful adaption in the water sector.



Martina A Caretta, West Virginia University, USA


Ruth Morgan, Monash University, Australia



Thank you for your interest in submitting your manuscript to Climate and Development. To submit to the special issue on “Indigenous knowledge for climate adaptation in the water sector”, please visit the journal page and click “Submit an article”. This will take you to the journal’s submission site where you can upload your manuscript. During the submission process, you will be asked if the manuscript is for a special issue. Please confirm yes and enter the special issue title: Indigenous knowledge for climate adaptation in the water sector.


Boillat, S. and F. Berkes, 2013: Perception and Interpretation of Climate Change among Quechua Farmers of Bolivia: Indigenous Knowledge as a Resource for Adaptive Capacity. Ecology and Society, 18 (4), doi: 10.5751/ES-05894-180421.

Cameron, E. S., 2012: Securing Indigenous politics: A critique of the vulnerability and adaptation approach to the human dimensions of climate change in the Canadian Arctic. Global Environmental Change, 22 (1), 103-114, doi: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2011.11.004.

Cochran, P. et al., 2013: Indigenous frameworks for observing and responding to climate change in Alaska. Climatic Change, 120 (3), 557-567, doi: 10.1007/s10584-013-0735-2.

Ford, J. D. et al., 2016: Including indigenous knowledge and experience in IPCC assessment reports. Nature Climate Change, 6, 349, doi: 10.1038/nclimate2954

Muir, C., 2010: From the other side of the knowledge frontier: Indigenous knowledge, social-ecological relationships and new perspectives. Rangeland journal, v. 32 (no. 3), pp. 259-265-2010 v.32 no.3, doi: 10.1071/RJ10014.

Tengö, M. et al., 2014: Connecting Diverse Knowledge Systems for Enhanced Ecosystem Governance: The Multiple Evidence Base Approach. Ambio, 43 (5), 579-591, doi: 10.1007/s13280-014-0501-3.

Tengö, M. et al., 2017: Weaving knowledge systems in IPBES, CBD and beyond—lessons learned for sustainability. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 26-27, 17-25, doi: 10.1016/j.cosust.2016.12.005.