Promoting participatory ICTs for adding value to traditional knowledge in climate change adaptation, advocacy and policy processes in the Pacific and Caribbean

CTA provides capacity building in Participatory Geographic Information Systems (PGIS), mobilizes funds and builds partnerships to promote the inclusion of grassroots in multi-stakeholder land and resource use planning processes in the context of climate change in the Pacific and Caribbean. 

Project background and rationale

Despite contributing the least to GHG emissions, Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the Pacific and the Caribbean are among the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Traditional knowledge is a valuable yet underestimated input in policy making processes concerning climate change adaptation. The adoption of Participatory Geographic Information Systems (PGIS) and web-based communication tools enables grassroots communities to add value and authority to their local knowledge and to have a voice in natural resource use decision-making. PGIS has proved to be effective in enhancing multi-stakeholder participation in policy processes and in bridging knowledge systems (traditional and scientific) while supporting inherent recognition of the value of traditional knowledge. 

The project Promoting participatory ICTs for adding value to traditional knowledge in climate change adaptation, advocacy and policy processes in the Pacific and Caribbean upscales the use of Participatory 3D Modelling (P3DM) - the PGIS methodology CTA has been spearheading since 2005 - in the Pacific and introduces it to the Caribbean Region. CTA collaboration has been requested because of its expertise in the domain of PGIS practice, Web 2.0 and social media, and indigenous knowledge management. 

In its 2011-15 Strategic Plan, CTA recognizes that climate change disproportionately affects food security in SIDS. In this context CTA strategy promotes the establishment of enabling policy environments for implementing effective long-term adaptation actions. Resource-dependent communities (farmers, fisherfolk, etc.) in SIDS are particularly vulnerable to climate change because of their geographic distribution (mainly coastal) and because of their high dependence on the affected resource base (land, water, fishing grounds, reefs, etc.). The Strategic Plan also aims at enhancing Africa Caribbean and Pacific countries’ capacity in Information Communication Knowledge Management for agricultural and rural development, for example through the deployment of ICT tools and methods (i.e. PGIS, Web 2.0 and social media) and knowledge management practices favouring multi-stakeholder engagement and knowledge sharing. Therefore CTA intends to promote the accessibility and effective use of GIS and Web 2.0 and social media technologies among its beneficiaries to stimulate their active participation and the one of their constituencies in planning out climate change adaptation strategies and in feeding their findings and proposed solutions into policy making processes.

Challenges addressed by the project

Reference to community participation in climate change decision-making dates back to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (art.6). Active participation by concerned parties is recalled in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Third and Fourth Assessment Reports, in UNDP guidelines for adaptation strategies, in Agenda 21 and in the National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPAs) guidelines which are meant to be action-oriented, country-driven and based on multi-stakeholder endorsement. At the date of project conceptualisation these principles of fairness and inclusion have found limited application.

  • Existing National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs) overlook the value of traditional knowledge as a valuable input to climate change adaptation policies, strategies and action plans;
  • Participatory approaches to natural resource management and climate change adaptation decision-making have not been institutionalised;
  • There is lack of awareness and skills among key stakeholders on participatory spatial analysis processes and modern online advocacy / campaigning tools;
  • Substantial untapped and potentially useful local knowledge is undocumented, hidden or underutilised

Funding (period 2012-2014)

Total budget estimate (various sources): 1,570,000 euro.  

CTA financial contribution: 745,000 euro.  

Expected Results

  • Traditional knowledge is documented, transmitted to younger generations and fed into planning processes in the context of climate change.
  • Best practices in the use of PGIS (and related web 2.0 applications) and lessons learned are well documented, including through impact assessments, widely disseminated and adopted in bottom-up planning and advocacy processes by selected national and regional bodies.
  • Staff from selected regional and national organisations are competent in using the PGIS practice and Web 2.0 and social media applications in relation to climate change adaptation in SIDS.
  • Regional centres of excellence in participatory spatial information and communication are established in each of the two regions.
  • Participatory approaches to natural resource management and climate change adaptation decision-making are institutionalised in selected countries.


The activities of this project are strategically nested into broader projects supported by UNDP, Global Environment Facility (GEF), GEF-Small Grant Programme (SGP), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Caribbean Natural Resource Institute (CANARI), University of West Indies (UWI), Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (5Cs), and National ministries.


Top UN officials Helen Clark and Naoko Ishii praising outcome of P3DM activities in Samoa from CTA on Vimeo.

Participatory 3D Modelling (P3DM) for bottom-up decision-making in Vanuatu from CTA on Vimeo.

Learn more on P3DM with the Training Kit on Participatory Spatial Information and Communication Technology and by reading the Handbook Participatory Three-Dimensional Modelling guiding principles and applications (2010).

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