Conference Program


ICARUS IV Abstracts


Timothy Forsyth (Professor of Environment and Development, London School of Economics)

Livelihoods and Vulnerability Under Climate Change

Social scientists are increasingly calling for the analysis of adaptation to consider factors other than greenhouse gas forcing. But theories about vulnerability and livelihoods still lag behind climate change debates. This talk will attempt to reconcile these two fields by considering the historical ways in which research into livelihoods have considered questions of vulnerability, and prospects for updating these approaches in the face of new climate risks. The paper will argue that Sustainable Livelihoods Approaches (SLAs) – despite reflecting the neoliberal principles of the late 1990s – offered an important insight into vulnerability by being outcome oriented – ie defining sustainability in terms of outcomes useful to vulnerable people rather than in terms of response to specific environmental changes alone. Since the 1990s, however, livelihoods research has engaged more thoroughly with the national and discursive contexts within which livelihoods and risks are defined. This transition offers a template for new climate-resilient livelihoods in creating space for redefining the risks, and hence the responses, experienced by vulnerable people. The talk will provide examples of these more deliberative approaches to sustainable livelihoods from cases of ecosystem-based adaptation, and the proposed Landscapes Approach, which seeks to integrate development and environmental planning for multiple land uses.

Timothy Forsyth is Professor of Environment and Development at the London School of Economics. He is a specialist on the politics of environment and development, with a focus on understanding contested science and risk within environmental governance. His work analyses two themes: the politics and policy processes of contested environmental debates in rapidly developing countries; and the evolution of new multi-actor, multi-level forums of governance such as cross-sector partnerships or deliberative forums. He has written on climate change governance; forest polities in Asia; and social movements and local governance.


Diana Liverman (Regents Professor of Geography and Co-Director of the Institute of the Environment, University of Arizona)

Rethinking Climate Vulnerability

This talk will discuss some of the key challenges in studying climate vulnerability, drawing on recent work in the southwest US, Mexico and the Caribbean. These challenges include the need to study sectors beyond agriculture and natural resources – especially manufacturing and services; the importance of understanding the vulnerability of labor and workers; the difficulty of analyzing local vulnerability in a globally connected economy; and the necessity of better research designs including comparative and longitudinal studies. And as the UN is declaring success in terms of the Millennium Development Goal of halving poverty between 1990 and 2015, we should consider our use of poverty as a measure of vulnerability and whether success in meeting the MDGs has translated into reductions in vulnerability.

Diana Liverman is Regents Professor of Geography and Development and Co-Director of the Institute of the Environment at the University of Arizona. Her research centers on climate impacts, vulnerability and adaptation, and climate policy and mitigation especially in the developing world. She also works on the political economy and political ecology of environmental management in the Americas, particularly in Mexico.