The panel reflects on the social impact of climate change in southern Africa. The panel is interested in risk perception, vulnerabilities, resilience, climate-induced social change, adaptation mechanisms, and in the asymmetries of knowledge production on the subject.
Mainstream climate science has so far mainly been coined by natural science perspectives and statistical climate models. However, in recent years social sciences have increasingly examined the effects of climate change on social conditions and cultural practices. A better understanding of the social impact of climate change, of vulnerabilities and political and cultural responses to the climate crisis, seems to be significant for the formulation of adequate responses to climate change. Still, scientific knowledge production and academic collaboration follows asymmetric patterns between Africa and Europe.
The southern African region is severely impacted by global climate change, with multiple stress factors that add up to pre-existing vulnerabilities: As a region which is already one of the world's poorest and where land and water resources are already under stress, it is warming up faster than other regions, with significant changes in rainfall patterns and extreme weather events. Such phenomena impair the functionality of agriculture, challenge infrastructures and economies, force people to migrate, alter urbanization, and transform daily routines, traditional institutions, and lifeworld interactions.
The panel aims to provide a platform for presenting the most recent research on the social impact of climate change in southern African societies. Thus, it is interested in aspects of risk perception, social vulnerabilities, strategies for resilience, climate-induced social change processes, and adaptation mechanisms to climate change. It also emphasizes epistemological analyses of the bases for knowledge available in southern African societies, and in asymmetries of knowledge production on the subject.
The panel will give special attention to papers by scholars based in Africa.