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Decolonizing Climate Initiatives: Maarifa

Climate change policy and forest management laws and regulations in Africa are developed by experts who are trained using particular epistemological approaches. A wealth of other approaches, using bottom-up knowledge, are available, but these are rarely considered or used.


A new project Maarifa (Transformative Knowledge) seeks to work with communities living close to nature and address climate, biodiversity and human development challenges in Tanzania. The project will establish collaboration between University and NGO partners in Tanzania and Denmark to study the development and uptake of novel approaches to Citizen Science for producing environmental knowledge, primarily through the use of smartphone enabled apps. Over the next four years, from 2024 to 2028, the project will investigate how digital technologies applied to forest ecosystem governance can decolonize forest management, improve forest governance, empower citizens, and achieve better forest conservation outcomes.

The partners involved in Maarifa comprise an interdisciplinary team combining technology, ecology, the anthropology of policy making, and national and international agreements and laws relating to climate, nature, forests and development. Led by Professor Ida Theilade, University of Copenhagen, the project includes staff and PhD students from the universities in Dodoma and Dar es Salaam who will work together with staff of the Danish Institute for International Studies, NORDECO and UNEP-WCMC. The project is co-funded by DANIDA. Collaboration with national and Indigenous associations in Tanzania will ensure up-take of lessons learned. The project contributes to both sustainable development in Tanzania, and global learning on Citizen Science for climate and nature action.


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