Pacific climate change adaptation: The use of participatory media to promote indigenous knowledge

Keywords: climate change adaptation, participatory media, photo essay, photography, indigenous, Indigenous Knowledge, Papua New Guinea


Pacific Island communities are increasingly experiencing the impacts of climate change. Inaccessibility to relevant information about contemporary climate change adaptation strategies at the community level presents challenges. At the same time, indigenous strategies to adapt to climate changes have been overlooked in both local and global climate change debates. This article discusses a project undertaken with a community on Andra Island, Manus Province, Papua New Guinea. Climate change impacts and adaptation strategies were explored through photo essays developed by community members, engaging in approaches of visual participatory action research and indigenous research approaches. The collaboration with the Andra Island community created a space for reflective dialogue about challenges posed by climate change as well as how photo essays can be used to promote Indigenous Knowledge (IK) as a viable capital for community-based adaptation (CBA). Within this context, this article demonstrates how climate change is both a natural and cultural process of change which poses socio-economic challenges. These challenges can compel people to engage in unsustainable practices that might exacerbate natural climate change impacts. The article highlights that building community capacity in participatory media can be an important tool to forge collective synergy, dialogue and ownership in local climate change initiatives. In particular, the authors demonstrate how participatory media can be harnessed to integrate indigenous knowledge in community-based climate change adaptation.


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Author Biographies

Aaron Inamara, Centre for Social and Creative Media, University of Goroka

Aaron Inamara is Researcher at the Centre for Social and Creative Media (CSCM) at the University of Goroka, Papua New Guinea. He led the study on integrating indigenous knowledge in climate change adaptation strategies on Andra Island and completed his Masters in Communication and Social Change at CSCM through a scholarship funded by the Wildlife Conservation Society.


Verena Thomas, Queensland University of Technology

Verena Thomas is Senior Research Fellow in the Creative Industries Faculty at Queensland University of Technology and former Director of the Centre for Social and Creative Media at the University of Goroka, Papua New Guinea.



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How to Cite
Inamara, A., & Thomas, V. (2017). Pacific climate change adaptation: The use of participatory media to promote indigenous knowledge. Pacific Journalism Review : Te Koakoa, 23(1), 113-132.