UNU-EHS: New publication | Climate change in rural Pakistan: evidence and experiences from a people-centered perspective

In their new article in Sustainability Science, Amber Ajani and Kees van der Geest speak about the negative impact, which climate change has on psycho-social wellbeing, especially for those displaced from home.


Pakistan is home to a wide range of geographical landscapes, each of which faces different climate change impacts and challenges. This article presents findings from a National Geographic Society funded project, which employed a people-centered, narratives-based approach to study climate impacts and adaptation strategies of people in 19 rural study sites in four provinces of Pakistan. The study looked at six climate-related stressors—changes in weather patterns, floods, Glacial Lake Outburst Floods, drought, heat waves, and sea-level rise—in the coastal areas of Sindh, the desert of Thar, the plains of Punjab, and the mountains of Hunza, Gilgit, and Chitral. Speaking to people at these frontlines of climate change revealed much about climate suffering and trauma. Not only is the suffering induced by losses and damages to property and livelihood, but climate impacts also take a heavy toll on people’s psycho-social wellbeing, particularly when they are displaced from their homes. The findings further demonstrate that people try to adapt in various ways, for instance by altering their agricultural practices, but they face severe barriers to effective adaptation action. Understanding people’s perceptions of climate change and incorporating their recommendations in adaptation planning can help policy-makers develop a more participatory, inclusive, and holistic climate resilience framework for the future.

Keywords: Impacts of climate change, Adaptation constraints, Loss and damage, People-centered perspective, Climate narratives
Authors: Amber Ajani, Kees van der Geest

Source: United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS), 11 October 2021