What is a socially inclusive transformation? Rethinking resilience to climate change under livelihoods transitions in Myanmar and Nepal

Authors: Tim Forsyth*, London School of Economics, Constance McDermott, Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, Oliver Springate-Baginski, School of Development Studies, University of East Anglia
Topics: Environment, Development, Hazards and Vulnerability
Keywords: transformation, resilience, climate change, Nepal, Myanmar, livelihoods, risk, political ecology, science and technology studies,
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Washington 6, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The framework of “transformation” underlies much current discussion of climate change policy, but frequently contains assumptions about the natures of risks to be addressed, the pathways to transformation, and the inclusiveness of outcomes achieved. These assumptions can cause socially exclusionary approaches to climate change policy and resilience if they overlook diverse experiences of risks and resilience. This paper examines more inclusive approaches to transformation by presenting new empirical research about the relationships of livelihood transitions, risk, and resilience in upland zones of Myanmar and Nepal. Upland zones in the Himalayan foothills are often targeted by environmental policies that aim to address physical changes such as strengthening agricultural slopes, or increasing access to water. Yet, out-migration, commercialization, and other social changes affect who is at risk (including men and women); why they are at risk; and consequently what kinds of transformation are appropriate. The paper will focus on research within villages in western Myanmar (Chin, Naga), and western Nepal (Syangja, Jumla). It will discuss the theoretical connections between livelihood transitions and approaches to transformation within environmental policy; as well as implications for rethinking adaptation and sustainable livelihoods approaches as modes of building resilience. It will also discuss barriers to reforming ideas of risk and resilience within development organizations and environmental assessments in the light of this information, and consequently the challenges for making debates about transformation more socially inclusive.

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