What Does Climate Change Mean to Me?

How can we better integrate meaning-making into climate change adaptation? Climate change is a difficult phenomenon to conceive of—it is occurring over timelines that we often don’t think in, it is overwhelming to envision the changes that it might produce, and it is challenging to plan for a future that we can’t yet see or barely imagine. As a result, particularly in rural communities in the developing world, climate change science can be misunderstood, bewildering, and often disempowering.

Rather that starting with the science, IWB's partners Drishti and Centro Bartolome de las Casas began using photo voice with communities, in which local people use photography to explore the meaning of climate change in their lives in practical, real ways. This supports local people to draw on their own meaning-making about the issue, and thus evokes a greater sense of empowerment and resilience. The photo voice was accompanied with community meetings and, eventually, adaptation planning.

When people explore their own meanings of a complex issue, they discover a new relationship to that issue. Usually, this results in having greater understanding about how that issue affects their lives, their ecosystems, livelihoods and communities, and may also evoke a more conscious social action.