Climate Change Adaptation for Indigenous Communities - an overview

Media type: 
Meg Parsons

The IPCC Fourth Assessment concluded that certain groups of people are at particular risk from climate change (IPCC 2007). In the Australia context, inequalities exist between classes, ethnicities, males and females, age groups and places. People of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent, in particular, face ongoing inequality characterised by limited livelihood opportunities. The persistence of widespread inequity between indigenous and non-indigenous people is an area of major concern in the context of changing climate conditions, with indigenous peoples identified as particularly vulnerable to the detrimental impacts of climate change. For both ethical and practical reasons, it is critical that we understand these inequalities, and seek adaptation options which have equitable outcomes. In this paper I provide an overview of the impacts of climate change on Australian Indigenous communities, and explore practices, policies, and plans designed to address both short- and long-term environmental changes. This paper seeks to contribute to scholarly understanding of vulnerability, adaptive capacity and resilience in specific geographical, socio-economic, political, and cultural contexts by examining how Indigenous communities (nationally and internationally) are responding to changing climate conditions. Understandings and responses are not uniform; nevertheless there are commonalities between places and peoples that can contribute towards improved understanding of the enablers and barriers to adaptation within Indigenous contexts.