Sundarbans without boundaries

18 January 2021

The second of two virtual sessions convened by the TAPESTRY project at the Gobeshona Conference on Locally Led Adaptation Action.


  • Shababa Haque (ICCCAD)
  • Upasona Ghosh (Indian Institute of Public Health, Bhubaneshwar)
  • Mahmuda Mity (ICCCAD)
  • Shibaji Bose (Researcher/communications professional)
  • Annu Jalais (National University of Singapore)
  • Amites Mukhopadyay (Jadavpur University, Kolkata)
  • Md Nadiruzzaman (Hamburg University)
  • Lars Otto Naess (IDS)
  • Lyla Mehta (IDS)

Chair: Terry Cannon (IDS)

Session description

This is the second session from the project ‘Transformation as Praxis: Exploring Socially Just and Transdisciplinary Pathways to Sustainability in Marginal Environments’ (TAPESTRY). (See details of the first session.)

Climate-related uncertainties have tended to be defined by experts and bureaucrats (the ‘above’), mostly ignoring local perspectives and knowledge. Living in landscapes characterised by climate-related uncertainties creates anxieties and fears.

Insight into how people from ‘below’ understand and deal with uncertainty is helped by knowing how it affects their sense of place, identity and wellbeing. This can be a first step for fostering transformative change. Starting with people’s lived experiences, we conceive of transformation as emphasizing agency and practice (praxis).

Transformative action requires the reframing of nature-society relations, knowledge, and value systems, and a reconfiguration of institutions and frameworks. It involves fostering alliances between communities, NGOs, scientists and state agencies to co-produce new knowledge and ideas for more robust livelihoods. This can give rising to ‘patches of transformation’ that can be scaled up and out. These issues are teased out through presentations on three sites in south Asia. The first two (Kutch and Mumbai) are dealt with in an earlier session.

This session is focused on the Sundarbans area in West Bengal and Bangladesh, where islanders are battling sea level rise, salinity intrusion and cyclones.

The session discusses the work being done by the TAPESTRY project in both West Bengal and Bangladesh among people and organizations on the edges of the Sundarbans forest, where livelihoods are challenged by existing problems and magnified by climate change.

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