A climate justice lens for adaptive water governance: Attending to the impacts of climate change on Indigenous hydrosocial systems

Authors: Nicole Wilson*, University of Manitoba
Topics: Coupled Human and Natural Systems, Indigenous Peoples, Water Resources and Hydrology
Keywords: Climate Justice, Environmental Change, Indigenous governance, Transformation, Water Governance, Yukon Canada, British Columbia Canada,
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Indigenous peoples have contributed little to the causes of climate change, but are among those who are experiencing the most dramatic impacts on the waters within their traditional territories. Adaptive approaches to water governance seek to respond to the increasing uncertainty in decision-making processes about water. However, such approaches fail to account for the specific impacts of climate change on Indigenous peoples and water. In this presentation, I share the findings of community-based research on climate justice and Indigenous water governance with Carcross/Tagish First Nation in Northern Canada. I begin by considering the concerns that climate change presents for decision-making about water in the Southern Lakes hydrosocial system, including the cascading impacts of glacial recession and permafrost thaw. I then discuss how Indigenous climate justice accentuates the need to not only adapt to changes in water but to fundamentally transform water governance arrangements to address the root causes of injustice. In particular, I highlight the need to account for the complexity created by historic and ongoing colonialism and as well as C/TFN’s Tagish and Tlingit Indigenous legal order and relationships to water.

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