Artistic Research: Photo installations by Hamburg photographer Barbara Dombrowski with texts by Kiel geographer Silja Klepp
In summer 2018 the photographer Barbara Dombrowski traveled to the South Pacific islands of Kiribati and Rarotonga. The journey was both the conclusion of her photographic cycle "Tropic Ice_Dialog between Places Affected by Climate Change" and the starting point for a cycle of spectacular installations designed to draw attention to climate change and its consequences for culture and native people on five continents.
The images of the Kiribati archipelago are closely linked to the research of Silja Klepp, a geographer from Kiel. The Professor of Social Dynamics in Coastal and Marine Regions at Kiel University has spent several long research stays there, where she focused on the social and cultural consequences of climate change and examines questions of climate migration and adaptation.
The exhibition shows an excerpt from the documentation of Barbara Dombrowski's journey and Silja Klepp's personal contacts and places of research. The exhibition documents how the people on the South Pacific islands are affected by climate change, what adaptation measures they have taken and what strategies they are pursuing to avoid migration and to become refugees. In addition to the photo installations, Silja Klepp's texts illustrate the challenges facing the population living with climate change, the consequences of which, such as rising sea levels, they have contributed least to.
The exhibition "Climate Justice in Kiribati" is part of the interdisciplinary workshop "Narratives and practices of environmental justice" at Kiel University, which brings together about 60 international scientists to discuss fundamental questions of environmental justice from different scientific perspectives. The workshop is organized by Silja Klepp, Florian DÃ¼nckmann and Jonas Hein from the Institute of Geography.
At the same time, the event will be the starting signal for the new "
Climate Justice in Kiribati, Oceania
The Republic of Kiribati is an island state in the central Pacific made up of 32 atolls, with a population of around 110,000. Inequalities on different levels in the context of global climate change are adversely affecting developing countries such as the Republic of Kiribati. Kiribati's inhabitants bear little responsibility for anthropogenic climate change, as their per capita emissions are low; nevertheless, they are heavily impacted by actual and expected environmental changes. The potential for conflict present within climate justice debates is especially apparent in discourses on the connections between climate change and mobility. Countries like Kiribati are often perceived to be the first victims of climate change and have to anticipate the future
Some environmental changes are already occurring, such as stronger and more frequent storm tides, coastal erosion, and the salinization of fresh water sources and agricultural land. Although the predicted sea-level rise has to take into account global, regional and local variables that make these predictions difficult, Pacific island states such as the Republic of Kiribati, Tuvalu, and the Marshall Islands are identified as being especially vulnerable. Some of these islands are less than one
Along with profound socio-economic problems and few opportunities for financing adaptation measures, Kiribati suffers from additional structural inequalities on various levels. These include
On the global and regional level, the government of Kiribati is part of the large transnational movement for climate justice, which focuses on human rights and the cultural and environmental rights of indigenous peoples and minorities. The activities of this movement are often initiated by NGOs. For example, the network Climate Justice Now! was created in the frame of the UNFCCC negotiations in 2007 in Bali by more than 30 NGOs and grassroots organizations. The Peoples Agreement, created at the Peoples congress 2010 in Bolivia, demands
Inspired by similar thoughts and taking the post-colonial setting of Oceania into account, a growing number of voices in the Pacific area, in the context of the debates around climate justice, are calling for
The dynamic discussions on climate justice show that the negotiation process in Kiribati and Oceania concerns itself with concrete, local, social and connective questions around climate justice. It includes decidedly migration-friendly perspectives and some actors are promoting a postcolonial questioning of national borders. In particular, climate justice must be linked to important post-colonial arguments concerning the political nature of the crisis faced by islands such as Kiribati. This applies to the debates and research around climate change and migration as well as to discussions and studies of adaptation to anthropogenic climate change. It must underline the call for mitigation efforts of industrialized countries and their support in financing climate change adaptation.
Based on texts written by Silja Klepp (Kiel University).
Mangrove planting as coastal protection and adaptation to climate change â€“ a community activity in Ambo, Kiribati
The women that plant mangroves in the Lagoon of South Tarawa, in the village of Ambo, are part of the Kiribati Climate Action Network (
Mangrove planting is an anticipatory adaptation action and a so-called soft coastal protection measure. It is undertaken to buffer coastal environments to reduce the vulnerability of coastal communities from the effects of climate change, including more severe storms and sea-level rise. Compared to hard protection measures, like sea walls, it is often more sustainable and provides employment to the communities. Today
Healthy mangrove forests not only mean coastal protection, but a great benefit also comes from the resources provided by mangrove forests. Mangroves perform valuable regional and site-specific functions. Mangrove loss will reduce coastal water quality, reduce biodiversity, eliminate fish and crustacean nursery habitat, adversely affect adjacent coastal habitat, and eliminate a major resource for human communities that rely on mangroves for numerous products and services. Reduced mangrove coverage and health will increase the threat to human safety and shoreline development from coastal hazards such as erosion, flooding, storm waves and surges, and tsunami, as some scientists have observed following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
Mangrove ecosystems were able to persist through the quaternary despite substantial disruptions from large sea-level fluctuations, demonstrating that mangroves are highly resilient to change over
Based on texts written by Eric L. Gilman (IUCN, Global Marine Programme, Honolulu, USA) and Alia Levine and Bonnie Flaws (Dev-Zone, Wellington, New Zealand).
Climate change adaptation gone wrong: The case of sea walls in Kiribati
Islands are recognized as uniquely exposed to climate change, now and in the future. Anthropogenic climate change challenges for island inhabitants include issues of water security, salinization of groundwater, stronger tropical-cyclone impacts and shoreline erosion and coastal flooding due to sea-level rise. Kiribati consists of 32 coral atolls and reef islands, as well as the raised limestone island Banaba. Current studies suggest that
Coastal protection measures can be well suited to immediately protect coastal assets from inundation and protect from land loss during high water events. They can be divided into three categories: hard protection measures, soft measures, and retreat or migration. Hard measures include land reclamation and physical barriers like sea walls. Sea walls in Kiribati are normally built from coral rock,
Sea walls that are built in
Research shows that traditional knowledge and coping capacity on islands is likely to help people better adapt to future climate change. In addition to localized knowledge, it is important for those on islands involved in environmental governance to be aware of their unique attributes and specific local and regional environmental contexts. And, maybe most important, is to replace the commonly one-way direction of adaptation measures with genuine interaction in which both external agents and target communities have at least equal say in the design and implementation of adaptation pathways.
Based on texts written by Simon Donner (Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada) and Patrick Nunn (University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia).