Grit Martinez' presentation during the European Climate Change Adaptation conference (ECCA) 2013 dealt with the perception of climate risks and the reasons why different measures and attitudes emerged in two communities at the German Baltic Sea coast. The research was based on qualitative analysis and document research including chronicles and exploration of sites of local coastal heritage. Special attention was given to the respective cultural traditions in the communities, e.g. images of nature, people's relationships to the sea and their sense of place, economic development as well as past approaches and attitudes to coastal defense. Her presentation is available for download.
Culture and tradition are an undervalued part of climate adaptation action research. Research tends to either focus on the actual extent of climate change (modeling impacts), the technical feasibility of adaptation measures or participatory approaches. Comparatively little effort is spent on the cultural prerequisites for developing and implementing adaptation actions.
The presentation set out the specific constellation of socio-cultural, ecologic and economic driving forces that led the communities to adopt a different approach, with particular focus on different factors of success. The research is embedded in a wider transnational research context comparing the influence of cultural settings in similar geographic regions between the Baltic Sea and the Chesapeake Bay at the East Coast of the US. The presentation of Fanny Frick (Humboldt University) on The role of socio-cultural construction in decision-making for adaptation to climate change and sea level rise in three US states [pdf, 800 kB, English] was based on research undertaken by Grit Martinez and Mike Orbach (Duke University).
The study forms part of the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) initiative KLIMZUG ("Regions adapt to climate change") and is linked to the FP7- research project Bottom-up Climate Adaptation Strategies towards a Sustainable Europe (BASE).