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Accepted Paper:

Oral histories and sustainable delta futures: ageing and environmental change in the Mekong  


Siobhan Warrington (Newcastle University)
Graham Smith (Newcastle University)
Matt Baillie Smith (Northumbria University)
Hue Nguyen (An Gian University)
Tanh Nguyen (An Giang Universtiy)

Paper short abstract:

The relationship between ageing and environmental change has been given little consideration in existing research and policy. This paper will explore the potential of participatory oral history to address this gap and to support new ways of imagining sustainable delta futures between generations.

Paper long abstract:

Vietnam, like many ASEAN nations, has a rapidly ageing population and high rates of rural to urban migration of women and men of working age. It faces significant threats to its natural environments from resource extraction, over-intensification of agriculture, and climate change, with the delta regions of the Mekong in the South recognised as being particularly vulnerable and also experiencing higher rates of ageing than other regions. Despite these significant demographic and environmental trends, the relationship between ageing and mitigation and adaption to environmental degradation and climate change has been given little consideration in existing research and policy. While it is argued that older people are at increased risk during extreme weather events, there is little discourse relating to the capacities and potential of older women and men to support their communities to respond and adapt to environmental change.

This paper will consider this gap in knowledge and reflect on the ways we have started to try and address it as part of the Living Deltas Hub. We will consider the roles of oral history and visual methods in developing a collaborative and intergenerational approach to documenting and reflecting upon communities’ experiences of, and action in response to, environmental change. The research takes a ‘beyond livelihoods’ approach, recognising systemic challenges and opportunities, as well as exploring cultural and emotional relationships with natural resources. It explores the potential for younger and older generations to co-create inclusive and sustainable imagined futures, drawing on their distinct and shared knowledges and aspirations.

Panel P20a
Ageing and older age: unsettling development assumptions I