Enhancing climate governance through indigenous knowledge: Case in sustainability science


  • Nelson Chanza Department of Geography, Bindura University of Science Education, Bindura, Zimbabwe
  • Anton de Wit Department of Geosciences, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa




climate change, local participation, disaster management, EBA, mitigation, CBA


The current tempo of climate change strategies puts the notion of sustainability in question. In this philosophy, mitigation and adaptation strategies ought to be appropriate to the sectors and communities that are targeted. There is a growing realisation that the effectiveness of both strategies hinges on climate governance, which also informs their sustainability. The application of the climate governance concept by the technocratic divide (policymakers and climate practitioners) to communities facing climate change impacts, however, is still a poorly developed field, despite extensive treatment by academia. By drawing heavily from conceptual and analytical review of scholarship on the utility of indigenous knowledge (IK) in climate science, these authors argue that IK can be deployed in the practice of climate governance. It reveals that the merits of such a deployment lie in the understanding that the tenets of IK and climate governance overlap and are complementary. This is exhibited by examining the conceptual, empirical and sustainability strands of the climate governance-IK nexus. In the milieu of climate change problems, it is argued that the basic elements of climate governance, where actions are informed by the principles of decentralisation and autonomy; accountability and transparency; responsiveness and flexibility; and participation and inclusion, can be pragmatic particularly to communities who have been religiously observing changes in their environment. Therefore, it becomes necessary to invigorate the participation of communities, with their IK, in designing climate change interventions, which in this view can be a means to attain the objectives of climate governance.


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How to Cite

Chanza, N., & de Wit, A. (2016). Enhancing climate governance through indigenous knowledge: Case in sustainability science. South African Journal of Science, 112(3/4), 7. https://doi.org/10.17159/sajs.2016/20140286



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