Critical Cartography

Decolonising and Participatory Cartographies

4610.1 - Participatory Mapping: Evaluating Practice in Climate Change Projects in Caribbean Small Island Developing States

Tuesday, July 4
2:50 PM - 3:10 PM
Location: Coolidge

Participatory mapping is a form of intimate cartographic collaboration with communities that utilizes their unique local and traditional knowledge in decision-making processes. It focuses on, not only cartographic representation, but on using that representation as a focal point to build collective knowledge and consensus among stakeholders. Having demonstrated its benefits in a myriad of subjects and locales across the globe over the past twenty-five years, participatory mapping is currently being recognized as a valuable tool to approach the impacts of climate change. Its worth stems from the holistic combination of scientific and local/traditional knowledge and its bridging of the gap between top-down and bottom-up approaches. By uniting these knowledge types, participatory mapping can fill a significant gap in addressing the impacts of climate change, and it can further involve and engage stakeholders in decision-making processes.

Three problems are addressed in this research. First, the Caribbean lacks a database of participatory mapping projects, and therefore connections between stakeholders and facilitators across the region. Second, no generalized participatory mapping methodology exists to assist in the facilitation of best practice processes. Third, no researchers have conceptualized a framework that addresses the combination of participatory mapping in the larger context of climate change. The main motivation of this research was to encourage the advancement and improvement of participatory mapping, particularly within Caribbean SIDS, through established best practices and access to a network of practitioners and knowledge holders across the region while encouraging its use in the fight against climate change.

Participatory mapping has, over the past twenty years, been utilized in 68 percent of the Caribbean, with Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, and Trinidad and Tobago tied for the most projects. This research developed a survey to gather information on participatory mapping in Caribbean SIDS and then compiled a collaborative database of projects, and an associated bibliography of publications, that promotes the transferring of ideas among practitioners. This was supplemented by the creation of a flexible and adaptable best practice methodology, which advocates for accountability and strengthened participatory processes. With this, Caribbean case studies were tested and evaluated to determine their conformance with the established best practice. Finally, a conceptual framework was designed that combined the key research themes of participatory mapping and climate change. By integrating participatory mapping into the climate change framework, it validated the importance of local/traditional knowledge and illustrated how, in combination with scientific data, it can be used to address climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts.

The applicability, universality, and flexibility of the research outputs result in regionally and globally relevant products that intimately address the research themes. Participatory mapping can be a tremendous asset both in Caribbean SIDS and in order to address the impacts of climate change. The significance of these results is their value to connect and educate practitioners, encourage best practice in Caribbean SIDS, and embolden the use of local/traditional knowledge in the face of climate change impacts. Therefore, it is the recommendation of this research that further developments be encouraged in the intersection of these fields.

Alison DeGraff Ollivierre

National Geographic Maps

Alison DeGraff Ollivierre, MSc, GISP, works as a Cartographer at National Geographic Maps, conducts freelance work as Tombolo Maps and Design, and works part-time for BirdsCaribbean. Her initial research in the Caribbean in 2011 focused on the facilitation of a participatory mapping project to develop a comprehensive local GIS database of important heritage sites throughout the transboundary Grenadines. Aly additionally assisted with the development of a collaborative marine multi-use zoning plan for the Grenada Bank and co-conducted research for an avian field guide that highlights scientific and local ecological knowledge. She holds a BA in Geography from Middlebury College (in Vermont) and an MSc in Geoinformatics from the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine (in Trinidad) where she completed her thesis research on the use of participatory mapping in Caribbean small island developing states to address climate change.


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Jeremy Crampton

University of Kentucky

Professor of Geography, Department of Geography, University of Kentucky. My interests are in critical cartography and GIS, geosurveillance and geoprivacy, spatial Big Data, and the thought of Michel Foucault.


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4610.1 - Participatory Mapping: Evaluating Practice in Climate Change Projects in Caribbean Small Island Developing States

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