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JPICULTURE-Cultural heritage and global change

Biocultural Heritage in Arctic Cities: Resource for Climate Adaptation?

Alternative title: Biocultural arv i arktiske byer: Ressurs for klimatilpasning?

Awarded: NOK 2.9 mill.

In a world where climate change is a significant concern, the concept of biocultural heritage becomes a source of hope. This approach recognizes the close connection between human cultures and the natural world, providing valuable information on overcoming the challenges of a rapidly changing planet. The Arctic region is particularly affected by climate change, experiencing alarming levels of warming. Within this icy landscape are bustling urban centers such as Fairbanks, Nome, Kirkenes, and Tromsø, where the effects of climate change are being acutely felt. However, against the background of these problems, the rich diversity of biocultural heritage provides a reserve of resilience. Biocultural heritage is based on traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) passed down from generation to generation by indigenous communities. This knowledge includes a wealth of wisdom, from tracking animal migrations to predicting weather patterns, providing invaluable guidance for adaptation in the face of environmental shocks. Scientists, artists, activists, and community members collaborate to harness the power of biocultural heritage. Through ethnographic fieldwork, artistic expression, and community engagement, they combine traditional wisdom and modern science to create innovative solutions based on local knowledge. The project aims to empower local communities to shape their future by strengthening their voices and developing partnerships between researchers, policymakers, and grassroots organizations. This will be a catalyst for meaningful change both locally and globally. In conclusion, biocultural heritage provides timeless wisdom that can help us achieve climate change resilience. By honoring and preserving this priceless heritage, we can pave the way for a more sustainable future for future generations.

The project focuses on the relationship between climate change and biocultural heritage, a holistic concept that emphasizes the interdependence of natural and cultural elements. The primary objective of the project is to understand how traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) and Indigenous knowledge, and human-environment relationships that form the core of biocultural heritage can contribute to climate change adaptation in urban areas and surrounding landscapes. TEK and biocultural heritage have been critical resources for climate adaptation for future Arctic residents. However, climate change processes threaten cultural and biological diversity, underscoring the urgency for adaptation and mitigation measures, especially in the Arctic, which is changing four times faster than the rest of the world. The project will focus on case studies of Arctic cities, including Fairbanks and Nome in the USA and Kirkenes and Tromsø in Norway, and their associated subsistence landscapes that transform even faster. The project team, consisting of social and natural scientists, artists, and activists, will use quantitative and qualitative methods of climate science, remote sensing, human geography, and social anthropology to explore the potential of traditional knowledge and local land use practices as holistic and culturally sensitive tools for climate adaptation. By integrating scientific data with Indigenous long-term observations and artistic explorations, the team hopes to create publicly accessible, co-produced, and place-specific arts and science products. The project's results will be published in academic articles, disseminated via online media, and presented in art and science exhibitions. The main research question of the project is, "How can biocultural heritage integrated into urban and natural landscapes contribute to climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts?"

Funding scheme:

JPICULTURE-Cultural heritage and global change