The TAPESTRY research project explores how transformation may arise ‘from below’ in marginal environments with high levels of uncertainty. TAPESTRY focuses on three ‘patches of transformation’ in India and Bangladesh – vulnerable coastal areas of Mumbai, the Sundarbans and Kutch.

Climate change is considered to be a major threat to the environment and people’s wellbeing around the world, but its local impacts are uncertain and varied. In disaster-prone marginal environments in India and Bangladesh, climate uncertanties interact with other drivers of change.

TAPESTRY’s work is around ‘patches of transformation’: intitiatives and alliances between different actors (local communities, NGOs, scientists and state agencies) that seek socially-just and ecologically sound alternatives, based on local people’s ideas of what transformation means, and historical perspectives on it. Each ‘patch’ is unique; some fade, others grow or merge to form a tapestry.

Read more about our cases.

Contact us: n.oxley@ids.ac.uk

Follow us on Twitter: @TAPESTRY_T2S

Project flyer

Read a summary of our project in English, Marathi, Bengali or Gujarati.

English (PDF) / Marathi (PDF) / Bengali (PDF) / Gujarati (PDF)

Uncertainty and transformation

While uncertainty can make anxieties about the future seem worse, it can also provide an opportunity to create transformation and deep structural change that addresses social, power and gender imbalances, and reimagines the relationships between society and nature, and the trajectory of development.

In coastal and dryland areas, people live with uncertainties every day. But there are examples of citizens, governments and researchers working together to respond to them. This includes alliances to restore coastal ecosystems, support pastoralist livelihoods, or develop new agricultural methods. From these ‘patches’, we can learn about how transformation happens locally and how it can link to wider change.

Creative methods

The TAPESTRY project aims to create spaces where people can explore their options creatively, through photography, video, performance and art.

Exhibitions from the project are aimed at local and regional audiences, as well as national policy makers. Roundtables in each study area bring people with different roles and viewpoints together to discuss the options and learn from each other’s views. The project is informed by academic evidence that brings together methods from the social and natural sciences. We are using Photovoice, comics, art projects and films to explore multiple perspectives.

Read articles about Methods

Who’s involved

TAPESTRY is organised in a transnational and transdisciplinary consortium across the UK, India, Bangladesh, Norway and Japan.

Project leader: Lyla Mehta, Institute of Development Studies l.mehta@ids.ac.uk

Co-Investigators: D Parthasarathy (IIT Bombay), Nobu Ohte (Kyoto University) and Synne Movik (Norwegian University of Life Sciences)

Principal and Co-Investigating institutions

  • Institute of Development Studies (IDS), UK
  • Norwegian University of Life Sciences
  • Indian Institute of Technology (IIT Bombay)
  • Kyoto University, Japan


  • Institute of Development Studies (IDS), UK
  • Norwegian University of Life Sciences
  • Indian Institute of Technology (IIT Bombay)
  • Kyoto University, Japan
  • Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA)
  • Sahjeevan, Gujarat
  • International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD), Bangladesh
  • Gujarat Institute of Desert Ecology (GUIDE)
  • Indian Institute of Public Health Bhubaneswar (IIPHB)
  • All-India Disaster Mitigation Institute (AIDMI)
  • Bombay 61
  • Conservation Action Trust (CAT)
  • Caritas-India
  • Caritas-Bangladesh
  • University of Oslo, Norway
  • University of Sussex, UK
  • Hunnarshala Foundation, India
  • Mangrove Cell, Maharashtra
  • Welthungerhilfe

Funding and acknowledgements

The TAPESTRY project is financially supported by the Belmont Forum and NORFACE Joint Research Programme on Transformations to Sustainability, which is co-funded by ESRC, RCN, JST, ISC, and the European Commission through Horizon 2020.