Decolonizing people, place and Country: nurturing resilience across time and space

Richard Howitt*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)
71 Downloads (Pure)


Indigenous peoples are easily classified as either dangerously vulnerable or inherently resilient to climate risks. There are elements of truth in both categorical statements. Yet neither is completely true. Indigenous vulnerability and resilience, and Indigenous groups' adaptive responses to climate change, need to be understood in the messy contexts of lived experience, rather than either elegant social theories or didactic ideological politics. Climate change action and research needs to acknowledge and engage with the knowledges, ontologies and experiences of diverse Indigenous groups, along with the specific histories, geographies and impacts of colonization, and their consequences for both the colonized and colonizers. Climate change action and research needs to be integrated into wider de-colonial projects as the transformative impacts of anthropogenic climate change are inadequately addressed within both colonial and post-colonial frames. Negotiating respectful modes of belonging-together-in-Country to reshape people-to-people, people-to-environment and people-to-cosmos relationships in Indigenous domains is essential in responding to planetary scale changes in coupled human and natural systems. This paper outlines an approach that nurtures Indigenous self-determination and inter-generational healing to rethink the geopolitics of Indigenous resilience, vulnerability and adaptation in an era of climate change and the resurgence of Great Power geopolitics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5882
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2020. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Climate change
  • Country
  • Coupled human and natural systems
  • Decoloniality
  • Geographical scale
  • Indigenous peoples
  • Ontological and existential risk
  • Ontological pluralism
  • Social and environmental justice


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