10.12.2012 | ZEF: Lecture "Riskscapes of climate change and adaptation in Africa: navigating through unknown territories"

The Center for Development Research (ZEF) and the United Nations University – Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) in Bonn jointly organize a seminar series on Risk and Uncertainty for Sustainable Development.

Speaker: Detlef Müller-Mahn, professor of social geography at the University of Bayreuth

Chair: Conrad Schetter

Time: Monday, December 10, 2012, 17:00 – 18:30 h
Place: ZEF middle conference room, ground floor, Center for Development Research / Zentrum für Entwicklungsforschung (ZEF), Walter-Flex-Straße 3, 53113 Bonn


It has almost become conventional wisdom of climate change science that “Africa is one of the most vulnerable continents to climate variability and change because of multiple stresses and low adaptive capacity” (IPCC 2007). This lecture challenges the certainty that is (at least implicitly) constructed in global climate change discourse by means of models, scenarios and maps. It argues that we need to better understand what climate, variability and change mean for ordinary people in Africa whose lives are affected by multiple uncertainties. From their perspective, adaptation is more than just a “response to climatic stimuli”, because it does also involve agency, decision making and risk taking. And it reflects more than just climatic parameters, because climate cannot be separated from the social environment. Based on case studies in Eastern Africa, the paper will conceptualize adaptation as a form of navigation through the riskscapes of climate change. The lecture will be followed by the presentation of a book edited by Detlef Müller-Mahn that has just been published in the Earthscan Risk Series (Routledge): “The spatial dimension of risk – How geography shapes the emergence of riskscapes”

For directions and further information please click here.