Empowering Indonesia’s Coastal Communities for Climate Resilience

How might we use our understanding of the human mind to empower coastal communities, build resilience, and help them adapt to climate change?

Mindworks is partnering with Aruna, an organisation that supports over 40,000 fishermen across 140 fisheries hubs in Indonesia on a ground-breaking new project. This unique collaboration aims to understand and map the emotional and social challenges many of these fishing communities face due to multiple crises and, in particular, climate change. These insights will be used to co-design specific interventions at a community level that build much-needed resilience, cooperation, and agency but also to inform policy maker and other stakeholders.

Many of these fishing communities are on the front lines of the climate crisis and face multiple threats from different, often overlapping crises, be it extreme weather events, increasing economic pressure or environmental degradation. Typically, projects aiming to tackle climate adaptation and increase resilience have focussed on physical aspects like creating stronger infrastructure and flood defenses, or economic factors, like livelihood loss or diversification. However, we often overlook an important element: psychosocial vulnerability.

Psychosocial vulnerability refers to the mental and social factors that affect well-being and resilience. In this project it means exploring how emotions and community interactions impact fishermen’s ability to adapt to climate change and the other overlapping crises.

In June, Mindworks and Aruna co-designed a Vulnerability Assessment tool, conducting in-depth interviews and surveys with community members in 19 fisheries hubs across three provinces in Indonesia. Working alongside a travel journalism team TelusuRI, we are also documenting some of the stories of these communities to give us a fuller picture of the reality on the ground.

What are we trying to find out?

We want to understand the community’s experiences with climate change, their perceived risks, and their sense of agency to drive climate-related change or mitigation actions in their surroundings. (you can see the pilot tool and questions here)

Why are we doing this?

Mapping each community’s vulnerabilities will provide unique insights that, when combined with existing knowledge on physical and economic resilience, can help Aruna and the communities themselves design impactful interventions that build-up climate agency and resilience.

Then what?

We will work with Aruna to develop actions that build resilience, create agency, and strengthen the community. We plan to do this in a participatory approach, thinking up solutions alongside community members so we can create shared moments of insight and ownership for the interventions. We also want to focus on young people, helping empower them as agents of change within the community and into the future.

What might these interventions look like?

Whilst the design of these interventions will of course depend on the unique insights and results in each community, we are sharing some directions below that can be adapted depending on the varying level of resilience.

1. Using speculative design to help the community imagine possible futures and give them agency to choose the best pathway to get there.

2. Use the power of conversations to foster inter-generational dialogue that can help create alignment, empathy, trust and come up with community-led interventions that help build resilience and mitigate against the impacts.

3. Engage all community members in a participatory planning process. This is a collaborative and deliberative approach to planning and decision-making where all community members, especially those who will be affected by the decisions, are actively involved in the process. It emphasises inclusiveness, transparency, and shared responsibility.

We will be sharing the results along the way so if you’d like to stay tuned, you can sign up to our newsletter below.

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