Integral Approach to Climate Resilience

Last October, Gail Hochachka was invited to present on an Integral Approach to Climate Resilience at the Environmental Institute of Australia and New Zealand's annual conference in Melbourne. Paul Barnard, CEO of Integral Institute Australia, was the mastermind behind the conference program design. In a room of about 200 environmental scientists, we were intrigued to see that the domain of psychology--of motivational drivers, of values and consciousness--is increasingly making it into the climate change resilience and adaptation conversation. Yet, how do integrate this domain with both sophistication and ethics is really the question.

At this conference in Melbourne, this question of integration was front and central in our conversations, into which Hochachka added some of our ideas on how to attempt this. She shared a project in El Salvador on integrating consciousness and culture into the climate change adaptation process through using photo voice, so that local people inquire into their own meaning-making on what climate change is, how it affects them, and how they are already adapting and could continue to adapt further. The idea here is that if people problematize the issue of climate change and source insights for adaptation from their own first-person perspective, then they are naturally drawing on their own worldview, letting the team align more adeptly with those local worldviews. Such that any subsequent adaptation interventions are better anchored in the relevant meaning-making frames for the local communities.

The keynote was well-received, not only because day one really set a tone that made it easy for her to present these ideas, but also perhaps because it wasn't just a statement of "we need to include psychology" but it also gave an applied example for how we could do this in the field, in communities, in real-time.

This project was carried out in partnership by Drishti-Centre for Integral Action and Centro Bartolomé de las Casas - San Salvador, funded by Canada's IDRC. Gratitude to all involved in doing and sharing this work: Larry José, Roberto Caceres, Monica Flores, and others on the Centro Bartotome team, Helia and Gloria and all the project participants in Arcatao and Los Pozos, and other advisors such as Sandra Thomson, Robin Hood, and Karen O'Brien.