Kastom, climate change and intergenerational democracy: experiences from Vanuatu

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6 Citations (Scopus)


The Republic of Vanuatu is a nation that is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of global climate change. It is a country with deep-rooted cultural practices, including customary (Kastom) Law that, throughout history, has protected the sustainability of its people, land, flora, fauna, rivers and oceans. This paper will describe the findings of a 2011 study conducted by Dr Kirsten Davies, involving 444 participants from the Island of Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu. A whole-of-community engagement methodology, known as Intergenerational Democracy, developed by the author, was adopted to capture snapshots of human-environmental relationships through the voices of children through to the elderly. The study was designed to assist a deeper understanding of community perceptions and observations pertaining to the impacts of climate change. As the Espiritu Santo community is becoming increasingly urbanised and less dependent on subsistence practices, valuable lessons can be learnt from these relational shifts. Focusing on adaptation, this paper discusses these shifts in a global context, as urbanised, transient communities become increasingly separated from the places of their ancestors. As the planet encounters the impacts of climate change, much can be learnt from the people of Vanuatu and their environmental and cultural connections.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationClimate change in the Asia-Pacific region
EditorsWalter Leal Filho
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
PublisherSpringer, Springer Nature
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9783319149387
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Publication series

NameClimate change management


  • Climate change
  • Customary law
  • Environment
  • Intergenerational Democracy
  • Traditional law
  • Vanuatu


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