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Using Cultural Consensus Analysis to Measure Diversity in Social–Ecological Knowledge for Inclusive Climate Adaptation Planning

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  • 1 a Department of Anthropology, University of Maryland, College Park, College Park, Maryland
  • | 2 b Earthquake Engineering Group, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, Maryland
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Abstract

Climate adaptation is context specific, and inclusion of diverse forms of knowledge is crucial for developing resilient social–ecological systems. Emphasis on local inclusion is increasing, yet participatory approaches often fall short of facilitating meaningful engagement of diverse forms of knowledge. A central challenge is the lack of a comprehensive and comparative understanding of the social–ecological knowledge that various stakeholders use to inform adaptation decisions. We employed cultural consensus analysis to quantitatively measure and compare social–ecological knowledge within and across three stakeholder groups: government employees, researchers, and local residents in rural coastal Maryland. The results show that 1) local residents placed more emphasis on addressing socioeconomic and cultural changes than researchers and government employees, and 2) that the greatest variation in social–ecological knowledge was found among local residents. These insights yielded by cultural consensus analysis are beneficial for facilitating more inclusive adaptation planning for resilient social–ecological systems.

Significance Statement

We wanted to understand the degree to which knowledge on coastal climate resilience is shared within and across three groups—government employees, researchers, and local residents—in rural areas around the Chesapeake Bay. We found that local residents placed a greater emphasis on addressing socioeconomic and cultural changes than researchers and government employees, who focused more on environmental changes. We also show that local residents as a group had the greatest variation in social–ecological knowledge as compared with the other two stakeholder groups. These results not only point to the importance of including local residents in climate adaptation planning, but also highlight the need to ensure that the full diversity of local knowledge is represented in planning.

© 2021 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Christine D. Miller Hesed, cmillerh@umd.edu

Abstract

Climate adaptation is context specific, and inclusion of diverse forms of knowledge is crucial for developing resilient social–ecological systems. Emphasis on local inclusion is increasing, yet participatory approaches often fall short of facilitating meaningful engagement of diverse forms of knowledge. A central challenge is the lack of a comprehensive and comparative understanding of the social–ecological knowledge that various stakeholders use to inform adaptation decisions. We employed cultural consensus analysis to quantitatively measure and compare social–ecological knowledge within and across three stakeholder groups: government employees, researchers, and local residents in rural coastal Maryland. The results show that 1) local residents placed more emphasis on addressing socioeconomic and cultural changes than researchers and government employees, and 2) that the greatest variation in social–ecological knowledge was found among local residents. These insights yielded by cultural consensus analysis are beneficial for facilitating more inclusive adaptation planning for resilient social–ecological systems.

Significance Statement

We wanted to understand the degree to which knowledge on coastal climate resilience is shared within and across three groups—government employees, researchers, and local residents—in rural areas around the Chesapeake Bay. We found that local residents placed a greater emphasis on addressing socioeconomic and cultural changes than researchers and government employees, who focused more on environmental changes. We also show that local residents as a group had the greatest variation in social–ecological knowledge as compared with the other two stakeholder groups. These results not only point to the importance of including local residents in climate adaptation planning, but also highlight the need to ensure that the full diversity of local knowledge is represented in planning.

© 2021 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Christine D. Miller Hesed, cmillerh@umd.edu
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