Project Profile: CCCEHN

Community collective action to respond to climate change influencing the environment-health nexus


Principal Investigators: Ilan Kelman, University College London, United Kingdom
Partners: Luke Matthews, RAND Corporation, United States
Aaron Clark-Ginsberg, RAND Corporation, United States
Michelle Scobie, University of the West Indies, Jamaica
Unni Gopinathan, University of Oslo, Norway
Sponsors: NOAA, USA
RCN, Norway
UKRI, United Kingdom


Full Project Title: Community collective action to respond to climate change influencing the environment-health nexus
Full Call Title: CEH2019


Project Objective: Climate change is an ongoing, creeping environmental influencer producing a wide variety of multi-scalar effects across communities. Climate change drives ecosystem changes intersecting deep-rooted, chronic vulnerabilities, including to hazards related to heat stress, infectious disease, and food systems. In diverse settings across the globe, and often as a result of inadequate action by formal institutions like governments and businesses, grassroots organizations are taking initiatives to conduct environmental monitoring and to engage in climate change-related actions. Being non-profit, often informal, and with limited resources, these organizations face classic collective action problems of incentivizing members to contribute outside of wider systems, such as markets and governments, with the clout to punish or reward actions.

We propose to study how volunteer-based, local groups self-organize to respond to climate change and its environmental impacts in order to contribute to health systems, formal and informal, which can adequately address changes to heat stress, infectious disease, and food systems. Building on prior research from the partners, we will sample citizen science and non-profit groups based in the US (Alaska) and Trinidad and Tobago (Caribbean) in order to provide a contrast of locations with similar concerns about climate change. Working with these groups, we will study not only successful organizations that have grown and acted over several years, but also sample recently formed and unsuccessful groups. Groups at these varying stages of their life cycles will provide comparative controls, and avoid biasing the data, as would occur if we studied only groups that were long lived.

The method will use a combination of semi-structured qualitative interviews, focus groups, and participatory development exercises. The latter will draw on participatory rural appraisal, factoring in the critiques of it, using processes such as resource maps, dream maps, change maps, pair-wise ranking of issues, and community walk-throughs. The findings will include recommendations as to the features that contribute to the survival and effectiveness of grassroots groups supporting their own health and health systems. Recommendations will be provided for funding strategies for governmental (or quasi-governmental) and private sector institutions that may seek to fund grassroots groups.
Call Objective: To improve understanding of the pathways between climate, environment, and health to protect and promote human health and well-being in the face of climate challenges. Multilateral, inter- and transdisciplinary research projects will investigate where significant uncertainties exist that are barriers to action; address complex climate, ecosystem and health pathways to determine processes underlying causal links; and foster the use of scientific information and climate-related decision support tools to better inform planning and enhance resilience.


Regions: Europe, North America, Central America
Countries: Jamaica, Norway, United Kingdom, United States of America (USA)


Duration: 36
Call Date: 14 March 2019
Project Award Date: 10 June 2020