Climate adaptation services: integrating land information to support mountain communities

Adish Khezri*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis - Research UT, graduation UT

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Mountains are the living space of about 12% of the world’s population, and it is estimated that 40% of people worldwide depend on mountains for some form of service or good including fresh water, hydroelectricity, timber, biodiversity, minerals, and recreation (e.g., tourist destination). Mountains display a diversity of climate that challenges the human capacity to respond to environmental degradation. The fragility of the ecosystems in mountains means that the effects in those areas are some of the most visible indicators of climate change in any context. For the vast majority of mountain people, climate change means reduced access to land leading to increasing risk of losing home, land or livelihood. The abovementioned issues result in mountain areas being a key focus for developing appropriate responses to climate change. Conference of the Parties (CoPs) introduced adaptation as a potential solution to reduce the impacts of climate change. Adaptation involves coping with the changes caused by climate change. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) working group 2, 2014, 95% of climate change finds its root in humankind activities, including burning fossil fuels, deforestation, and land use change. Economic investments in industry, agriculture, tourism, hydropower, and communication routes cause deforestation and land use change that are mainly taking place in forests and mountainous regions. Climate change further influences land and land use systems in mountain areas and decreases available land and its usability for mountain communities, leading to the displacement of mountain people. Consequently, the mountain communities and individuals who are already vulnerable are the most affected by these developments and changes. Agenda 21 – Chapter 13 – specifically focuses on “Managing fragile ecosystems: sustainable mountain development” and calls for the generation and strengthening of knowledge for the sustainable development of mountain people. It appears that the establishment of accessible information systems in these regions is important to achieve mountain communities’ adaptation to climate change. Increasing knowledge, use of available spatial information and new technology are essential for mountain communities to know how to better manage land and natural resources and tackle the impacts of climate change. The IPCC highlighted Summary 144 the need for climate information and services to facilitate adaptation to climate change. Different mountain information systems are being developed worldwide based on these global challenges, government mandates, technological supports, IT infrastructures and the drive to use information in various sectors and levels. The initiatives aim at providing versatile services to decision and policy makers at international, national and local levels. Mountain communities are a unique case, and so far these sorts of services and related Information Systems (IS) do no reach these users. Therefore, it is important to improve existing IS or to develop a new generation that can support the unique community needs. The general objective of this research was to develop the concept of an integrated IS that provides mountain communities with accessible climate adaptation services. Under the umbrella of this overarching objective, four sub ‐ objectives were attempted: (1) identify the socio ‐ technical limitations of existing mountain Community ‐ Based Adaptation (CBA) in response to the effects of climate change, (2) develop a strategic model that enables integration of policies and institutional arrangements from different sectoral levels and to consider its implementation for CBA services, (3) define how an integrated IS can be designed and implemented for mountain CBA and specifically focus on what requirements, including spatial information and climate services, are needed, and (4) evaluate the integrated IS by exploring its effectiveness in regards to promoting CBA. The conceptual framework of systems thinking and more specifically soft ‐ systems thinking was applied to address the four research sub ‐ objectives. The four sub ‐ objectives can be viewed as components of the system interacting together to expand an IS view in the development of the integrated IS. Iterative phases were distinguished including conceptualizing, identifying requirements, developing, and testing the IS to periodically review the research to keep it up ‐ to ‐ date as new concepts and updates are continually arriving. The research began with a literature review to develop a theoretical framework, and to support the subsequent work. It covered community vulnerability, adaptation factors, geo ‐ information for mountain communities, adaptation strategies, and plans at the community level. Three case studies were presented to identify stakeholders and their roles: i) the community experienced impacts; ii) community responses; and iii) community limitations to tackle the impacts of climate change. From the results, an hypothetical IS – dubbed Mountain Summary 145 Community Adaptive System (MCAS) ‐ was conceived and argued as an approach for potentially providing climate adaptation services to facilitate mountain communities. The research continued with a case study (Dolakha, Nepal) to identify the requirements and components of the IS. The research found that institutional fragmentation makes the implementation of integrated climate adaptation policy challenging. This created a gap in the implementation of an integrated policy both in climate information supply and in the delivery of climate services at community and individual levels. Qualitative data analysis in ATLAS.ti identified what adaptation options and key climate services were needed. SWOT analysis identified the gap relating to climate adaptation services. A land information model for climate change adaptation services was introduced. Land administration as an institutional approach for dealing with land related challenges was suggested in the implementation of the model, as a service to strengthen district and community institutions. The results from the previous findings outlined the possibility of using an integrated IS, or MCAS, to support mountain communities in CBA. Adaptation initiatives, tools, and options were presented to explore their limitations and potentials in facilitating CAP. The reasons for the selection the study area (Dolakha, Nepal) and its details were provided. The methodology of Noticing things, Collecting things and Thinking about things (NCT) was adapted for data analysis to address MCAS requirements and its services based on mountain community vulnerability. The MCAS set ‐ up, with the ability to integrate and provide land and climate services, was introduced. Required data and those agencies able to provide it were identified. The results defined how an integrated IS can be designed and implemented for mountain CBA with special focus on what requirements, including spatial information and climate services, are needed in CBA service delivery, and assisting policy and institutional arrangements. Qualitative data analysis revealed IS requirements including policy, stakeholders, data, and service needs. An Agile ‐ inspired approach was utilized in the software development process (design and development of IS) offering system creation based on minimum system requirements and iterative Summary 146 development. The forth sub ‐ objective focused on evaluating a developed web ‐ based integrated IS interface, an implementation of MCAS, to promote CBA. It was recognized that evaluation of CBA needs indicators. Therefore, the Fit ‐ For ‐ Purpose Land Administration (FFP LA) framework was adapted to evaluate MCAS. The elements of the FFP LA framework including “flexible”, “inclusive”, “participatory”, “affordable”, “reliable”, “attainable” and “ upgradable” were adapted for this specific context to identify the constraints for change in adaptation services. Evaluation results indicated that an MCAS ‐ style system could provide useful land and climate change information such as land use status, adaptation options, near real ‐ time rainfall and temperature details, climate change variables, amongst others, as services that can enhance CBA initiatives. The information could facilitate improved CBA planning and implementation at the mountain community level. Despite the mentioned benefits of MCAS, ensuring system access was identified as a key limitation: smartphones and mobile technologies still remain prohibitively expensive for members of mountain communities, and underlying ICT infrastructures remain under ‐ developed in the assessed mountain communities. Regardless of the aforementioned limitations, MCAS can still be considered as a factor in supporting the development in mountain communities and individuals. It was suggested that the land aspects of climate change should be added more explicitly to CBA initiatives. The results in this research have contribution to: (1) integrating research, policy and technology, (2) developing and evaluating systems and infrastructure, (3) co ‐ creating CAPs within an interdisciplinary team, (4) intersecting CAPs and tenure security, and (5) contributing to socio ‐ technical knowledge on Nepal. Overall, the concepts and tools applied in this research could facilitate mountain communities to be more aware of key issues related to climate change and to adjust better to climate change. Adaptation opens the dialogue on the people ‐ to ‐ land relationship. Mountain communities need to be more prepared to respond to challenges of resource management and move towards a shared problem ‐ solving approach, one that increases the possibilities to participate in climate change policy and to enhance land tenure security.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Twente
  • Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation
  • Zevenbergen, Jaap , Supervisor
  • Bennett, Rohan, Co-Supervisor, External person
Award date5 Oct 2018
Place of PublicationEnschede
Print ISBNs978-90-365-4622-5
Publication statusPublished - 2018




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