Workshop: Climate Change and Uncertainty from Above and Below

27-28 January 2016
New Delhi, India

Uncertainty is often considered to be a “super wicked problem” or “monster” by scientists and policy makers. The integration of uncertainty in climate change decision-making is very much debated and disputed by scientists. Often, the reaction has been to view it as something that needs to be minimised and controlled. Despite these ambiguities, the scientific community has relied heavily on quantitative assessments to capture and understand uncertainty.

But does the focus on models, diagrams, regressions and future scenarios factor in the lived realities of local people (poor or rich, women and men, urban or rural especially in the global South)? Theorizing about uncertainty from ‘above’ by experts may have little to do with how many people live with, understand and cope with uncertainty in everyday settings from ‘below’.

This workshop aimed to tease out the above-mentioned propositions and questions from an interdisciplinary perspective, based on short commentaries and submissions from a few leading thinkers. It builds on the STEPS Uncertainty From Below project and the Norwegian Research Council project on Uncertainty, Climate Change and Transformation.

Resources from the workshop

Blog: Uncertainty and Climate Change in India by Hans Nicolai Adam, 26 February 2016 (NMBU)

Video: views on uncertainty and climate change

Participants at the workshop share their views on the relationships between experts and local communities dealing with the uncertainties around climate change.


Presentation slides

The following presentations are viewable on Slideshare.

Anshu Ogra: Uncertainties and climate change adaptation

Anu Jogesh: Media and climate change – representations of risk and uncertainty

ASSAR – Adaptation at scale in semi-arid regions

Brian Wynne: Reconciling top-down and bottom-up uncertainties in knowledge, with power and conflicts of purpose or interest

Coleen Vogel: An inconvenient truth – the Hell Niño in South Africa

Dominic Kniveton: Embracing uncertainty

Krishna AchutaRao: Uncertainty from above – can it be reduced?

Life and water at Rachenahalli Lake

Lyons et al: Protecting what is left – making local perspectives of uncertainty count in climate adaptation planning

Matthias Heymann: The climate change dilemma – big science, the globalizing of climate and the loss of the human scale

Mehta et al: Climate change and uncertainty from below and above

Saurabh Arora: The advantages of uncertainty – toward new principles for cooperation between divergent practices from ‘above’ and ‘below’

Ian Scoones: Enabling plural pathways – uncertainty and responses to climate change

Shibaji Bose: Voices from below – a Photo Voice exploration in Indian Sundarbans

Sumetee Pahwa Gajjar: Uncertainty from within

Suraje Dessai: Uncertainty from above and encounters in the middle

Suresh Rohilla: Climate change and sanitation, water resources



A gallery of photos can be found on our Flickr page.



For more information, contact Lyla Mehta.

Related events

Launch: South Asia Sustainability Hub & Knowledge Network
28 January 2016, Delhi

International conference: Pathways to Sustainable Urbanisation
29-30 January 2016, Delhi

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