Community collective action to respond to climate change influencing the environment-health nexus

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Institute for Risk and Disaster Reductio

Abstract

Climate change is an ongoing, creeping environmental influencer producing a wide variety of multi-scalar effects across communities. Climate change drives ecosystem changes intersecting deep-rooted, chronic vulnerabilities, including to hazards related to heat stress, infectious disease, and food systems. In diverse settings across the globe, and often as a result of inadequate action by formal institutions like governments and businesses, grassroots organizations are taking initiatives to conduct environmental monitoring and to engage in climate change-related actions. Being non-profit, often informal, and with limited resources, these organizations face classic collective action problems of incentivizing members to contribute outside of wider systems, such as markets and governments, with the clout to punish or reward actions.
We propose to study how volunteer-based, local groups self-organize to respond to climate change and its environmental impacts in order to contribute to health systems, formal and informal, which can adequately address changes to heat stress, infectious disease, and food systems. Building on prior research from the partners, we will sample citizen science and non-profit groups based in the US (Alaska) and Trinidad and Tobago (Caribbean) in order to provide a contrast of locations with similar concerns about climate change. Working with these groups, we will study not only successful organizations that have grown and acted over several years, but also sample recently formed and unsuccessful groups. Groups at these varying stages of their life cycles will provide comparative controls, and avoid biasing the data, as would occur if we studied only groups that were long lived.
The method will use a combination of semi-structured qualitative interviews, focus groups, and participatory development exercises. The latter will draw on participatory rural appraisal, factoring in the critiques of it, using processes such as resource maps, dream maps, change maps, pair-wise ranking of issues, and community walk-throughs. The findings will include recommendations as to the features that contribute to the survival and effectiveness of grassroots groups supporting their own health and health systems. Recommendations will be provided for funding strategies for governmental (or quasi-governmental) and private sector institutions that may seek to fund grassroots groups.

Planned Impact

Scientists, policymakers, and local communities will all benefit from our work, particularly those working in the area of climate change and health.

First, despite the importance of both the social and technical dimensions of climate change health, there is limited research on the social dynamics of how communities organize to mitigate climate change risk. A major technical contribution of this project is the development of a technique for assessing the social life of community organization for climate change health risks. Indeed, the recently growing plethora of climate change specific health frameworks, measures and toolkits delineate the various factors that can contribute to community health but do not highlight and link the main topic of this study, namely how to overcome collective action problems. We will identify a set of indicators and techniques for assessing the potential to overcome collective action problems, encapsulated in our guidebook, which will provide community members, policymakers, and researchers with assessment tools that they can use to advance climate change related research.

Second, the empirical results of our study will also provide broader insight into how communities may overcome other collective action problems in other contexts. Climate change and health is not an area that has been examined in the community collective action literature; most research instead tends to focus on the broader overall management of natural resources, not the specific dynamics of health risk management. Our cases will thus provide additional knowledge on organizing collectively that researchers in these fields can utilize.

Third, the project will provide additional knowledge on how to better link the too-often siloed topics covered by this application, specifically climate change, health, and risk management-especially as applied to heat stress, infectious disease, and food systems. These findings will therefore be relevant to researchers studying all these areas, particularly when researchers work to understand the social dynamics associated with cascading hazards and disasters. The social elements of hazard cascades is still an area that is poorly understood, and two of the project members (Kelman and Clark-Ginsberg) have published in this area. We thus expect this to be a major contribution to the study.
These three advances have the potential for significant technical impact through further research and pushes the science and study of climate change and health in new and innovative directions. The new knowledge generated by applying this approach through the empirical component of the research will provide new insight into the functioning of health and links to climate change.

The management of health related impacts associated with climate change, including by engaging with local community groups, is an issue of critical importance policymaking importance. For example, the IPCC has been slowly moving towards mechanisms to incorporate local knowledge into the assessment reports, even if not peer reviewed, while numerous National Adaptation Programmes of Action and Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions highlight the importance of local, traditional, and vernacular knowledge. More demonstrations and examples of bringing local knowledge into these processes, such as through this project, would be welcome in such venues.

Policymakers and community groups working to manage the impacts of climate change will also benefit from this project. By identifying the barriers and opportunities for overcoming collective action, policymakers can use this knowledge to develop policies that support or facilitate community groups seeking to combat the effects of a changing climate. Similarly, community groups can use the results to identify potential collective action challenges and devise strategies for overcoming those challenges.

Publications

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Peters LER (2022) Toward resourcefulness: pathways for community positive health. in Global health promotion

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Shannon G (2022) Regenerative economics for planetary health: A scoping review RESEARCH PAPER in International Health Trends and Perspectives

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Kelman I (2023) Inclusive engagement for environmental sustainability in small island states in Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability

 
Title Joelle & Ilan - This is Science 
Description Poem written with a professional poet as part of the "Experimental Words" initiative. 
Type Of Art Creative Writing 
Year Produced 2021 
Impact Taught scientists and poets about each other's contributions to and understandings of the topics of climate change and health, particularly for islanders. 
URL https://experimentalwords.com/this-is-science/joelle-ilan
 
Title Many Strong Voices YouTube channel 
Description Many Strong Voices YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/@manystrongvoices 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2022 
Impact Interest in local voices. 
 
Title The Ocean Remembers 
Description Original poem and recording for the "Experimental Words" initiative. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2021 
Impact Taught scientists and poets about each other's contributions to and understandings of the topics of climate change and health, particularly for islanders. 
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9_Tc5QyHZI
 
Description 1. Some communities are amenable to online participatory research, which has advantages and disadvantages, so we should seek a balance of travelling and not travelling to a location.
2. Climate change as a topic has become a large, externally imposed force dominating policies and fundings which can inhibit communities seeking environmental action in their local areas.
3. Extensive self-reflection is needed on how we conduct community-based research and seek to use science for constructive action.
Exploitation Route 1. Recognising and applying different methods for garnering community perspectives, especially accepting that any method--including different forms of in-person and online participation--have advantages and limitations.
2. Never neglect climate change but do not let it dominate. Instead, place climate change within wider and deeper contexts.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Environment,Healthcare,Other

 
Description We have used our experiences and work to date for public presentations and public commentaries. The impact has been raising awareness of the project-related issues faced by communities, lessons they can provide elsewhere, and lessons they can adopt from elsewhere. In the public communication, we have ensured that high-level scientific ideas are applied to the local contexts of our project and vice versa.
First Year Of Impact 2020
Sector Environment,Other
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description Trans-local approaches to strengthening community-led responses to planetary health crises in the face of COVID-19
Amount £10,000 (GBP)
Funding ID UCL Grand Challenges 
Organisation University College London 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2021 
End 07/2021
 
Description 'Climate change is not their priority' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Media interview
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://worldwise.substack.com/p/climate-not-a-priority?utm_source=url
 
Description 'They're taking climate change as a scapegoat' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Media interview
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://worldwise.substack.com/p/climate-change-scapegoat?utm_source=url
 
Description Climate change and health in Alaska 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Kelman, I. 2021. Climate change and health in Alaska. Pre-recorded video for the ATOM Festival of Science and Technology, 11-12 June 2021, Abingdon-on-Thames, U.K.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Climate change and public health: reflections on a Belmont Forum climate, environment and health project 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Myhre, S. (May 27, 2021). Climate change and public health: reflections on a Belmont Forum climate, environment and health project. Global health: Challenges, knowledge, and cooperation seminar, Norwegian Institute of Public Health and the Ministry of Development with Minister Dag Inge Ulstein, Oslo, Norway.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Commentary: Local Communities Need a Voice in How to 'Build Back Better' 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Izenberg, M. and A. Clark-Ginsberg. 2021 (January 12). Commentary: Local Communities Need a Voice in How to 'Build Back Better'. RAND Blog.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.rand.org/blog/2021/01/local-communities-need-a-voice-in-how-to-build-back.html
 
Description Community collective action to respond to climate change influencing the environment-health nexus 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Project website for the Belmont Forum.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020,2021,2022
URL https://www.belmontforum.org/archives/projects/community-collective-action-to-respond-to-climate-cha...
 
Description Community collective action to respond to climate change influencing the environment-health nexus (CCCEHN) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Presentation at the virtual ENBEL General Assembly December 2, online.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Community collective action to respond to climate change influencing the environment-health nexus (CCCEHN) - An overview 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Myhre, S. 2021. Community collective action to respond to climate change influencing the environment-health nexus (CCCEHN) - An overview. Presentation at the virtual ENBEL Belmont Forum Workshop, March 23, online.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Connecting climate change, disaster risk, and sustainability 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Blog by Ilan Kelman for 'Psychology Today'.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/disaster-choice/202101/connecting-climate-change-disaster-ri...
 
Description ESRC GCRF presentation and seminar 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact 5 October 2021
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Food is a Shaman: Part 1. A Two-Part Commentary on a Community based Externship in Sitka, Alaska 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Zhu, K., 2021. Food is a Shaman: Part 1. A Two-Part Commentary on a Community based Externship in Sitka, Alaska.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://patimes.org/food-is-a-shaman-part-1-a-two-part-commentary-on-a-community-based-externship-in...
 
Description Forests and capital in the urbanizing Nordics 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Co-organizing a pre-workshop online, Finland, 10.2.2022.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description Forests, disastersand researchers' COVID-19 mobility 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Internal UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction seminar, 1 December 2021, online.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description From Crisis to Resilience 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Webinar series
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021,2022
URL https://www.goalglobal.org/resilience
 
Description Governance of and by COVID-19: the spotlight on private and non-state actors 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Blog by E. Merilänen for the Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction, University College London, 25 May 2020.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/irdr/tag/covid-19/
 
Description Islands and Climate Change 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Ilan Kelman presenting at a UK HSA seminar series on 11 October 2021.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Journalism can help communities with these five pillars of ethical disaster reporting 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Clark-Ginsberg, A., and Roberts, S., 2020. Journalism can help communities with these five pillars of ethical disaster reporting. Poynter.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.poynter.org/reporting-editing/2020/how-journalism-can-aid-communities-through-ethical-co...
 
Description Kansan oletetaan hätääntyvän suurissa katastrofeissa - Oikeasti kyse on eliitin paniikista 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Online and print article by Tuukka Tervonen for Helsingin Sanomat, published on 10.1.2022.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
URL https://www.hs.fi/tiede/art-2000008441997.html
 
Description Lessons for state and federal agencies from community-based responses to the COVID-19 pandemic: Sitka, Alaska 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact RAND. Webinar. Lessons for state and federal agencies from community-based responses to the COVID-19 pandemic: Sitka, Alaska. 28 July 2021.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description NERC COP26 seminar 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact 19 October 2021
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Resilienssi 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Podcast in which E. Meriläinen was interviewed as an expert with Ari-Elmeri Hyvönen by Samuli Sinisalo, published on 15 June 2020 by the Sorsa Foundation.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://soundcloud.com/tzz2ln6z7tkt/resilienssi
 
Description Small Island Developing States and mental health 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Ilan Kelman presenting at a UK HSA seminar series on 29 November 2021.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description The Causes of Climate Change 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Blog by I. Kelman for 'Psychology Today'.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/disaster-choice/202102/the-causes-climate-change
 
Description Translocal Health 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact translocalhealth.com
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021,2022
URL http://translocalhealth.com
 
Description VOICES OF TOCO: Community Action, Climate Change, and Health Project 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Videos of people from one study location describing their interests. Completed at the request of them.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
URL https://sta.uwi.edu/iir/voices-toco-community-action-climate-change-and-health-project
 
Description https://patimes.org/food-is-a-shaman-part-2-a-two-part-commentary-on-a-community-based-externship-in-sitka-alaska 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Zhu, K. 2021. "Food is a Shaman: Part 2. A Two-Part Commentary on a Community Based Externship in Sitka, Alaska".
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://patimes.org/food-is-a-shaman-part-2-a-two-part-commentary-on-a-community-based-externship-in...