Odacy Davis


Cobra Project Participates in 6th International British Caribbean Geography Seminar

Under the theme "'The Caribbean Region: Adaptation and Resilience to Global Change'.

August 19, 2014

Odacy Davis and Deidre Jafferally of the COBRA Project participated in the International British Caribbean Geography Seminar (BCGS) held at the Department of Geography & Geology, University of the West Indies, Mona campus, Kingston, Jamaica from 23rd – 27th June, 2014.

photo (1)

Odacy presenting Cobra Paper

This is the 6th meeting in the BCGS series which, for two decades, has brought researchers periodically together to highlight geographical and related research on Caribbean economic and environmental change. The aim of the conference was to provide a forum for geographers and researchers in the natural and social sciences to present and discuss their work on the impacts of Global Change on Caribbean people, societies and landscape, modes of coping and adaptation, and strategies for building resilience under the central theme – ‘The Caribbean Region: Adaptation and Resilience to Global Change’.

Odacy Davis presented a Cobra Project paper on “Climate change policies and local sustainable practices: assessment of synergies and conflict in the Guiana Shield, South America.” In her presentation she explained that through the Cobra Project international and national policies’ focus on climate change were reviewed and assessed to determine whether they were supporting or undermining indigenous communities in the Guiana Shield, South America. Specific emphasis was placed on the cross-scalar analysis, ‘system viability’ framework and visual methods, which were used to assess these synergies and conflicts. This presentation also highlighted key themes (land rights, governance, partnerships, lifestyle, and identity) which determine the healthy functioning of the systems and how climate change policies have influenced them – land rights and governance were expanded. In closing, she indicated that the project supports a bottom-up and systemic process which engages indigenous perspectives in developing, and then evaluating the impact of, international and national climate change policies aimed at determining the futures of indigenous communities and their environments.


Deidre sharing preliminary findings of her study.

Deidre Jafferally presented on her PhD research, The impact of conservation on shifting cultivation practices among the Makushi people, North Rupununi, Guyana, which is being funded in part by the COBRA Project. In her presentation, Deirdre attempted to summarize some of the changes noted in Makushi farming practices based on the influence of forest conservation message being disseminated in the district. These changes can be noted in a number of areas including 1. Location of farms – more people are farming in secondary forests verses primary forests. Some communities are also exploring farming the savannah. 2. Community leadership is paying more attention to managing their land use. The old habit was that people farmed or extracted resources wherever they chose but that has been changing with development of resource management plans and production of zoning maps. 3. Changes in technology – while many of the tools used in traditional shifting cultivation have not changed, introduction of such implements like chainsaws and tractors can have implications for farming and food security. 4. The role traditional beliefs played in the farming system. With new ideas and changes those beliefs are being affected and influences how the people relate to the land. Deirdre’s preliminary assessment of the role of conservation on Makushi shifting cultivation farming practices is that of a two-edged sword.
Though limited time was available for detailed discussions after the presentations, participants were directed to the project’s website and additional information were given through informal discussions and networking during conference activities. Participants were also invited to submit expression of interest for Cobra’s Indigenous Film Festival to be held in Guyana, Sept, 2014. Odacy also delivered a presentation on “Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy – Opportunities and Challenges”.

Together with the organizing committee, Professor David Barker of the Department of Geography and Geology, UWI, Jamaica and Dr Duncan McGregor of the (Department of Geography, Royal Holloway, University of London coordinated a well-balanced and inspiring conference. Social events and field tours also featured in the list of conference activities.

Field Trip to a coffee bean plantation

Field Trip to a coffee bean plantation

Fields trips to different areas of Jamaica, illustrated the responses of human and natural systems to global change and the long/short term economic and environmental processes.

In Dr. McGregor’s closing remarks of the conference he made mention of the variety of research methods that framed the many presentations made over the five day conference. The cross-scalar analysis and participatory action methodologies used by Cobra Project were also highlighted – he stated that he’s confident that the project would be able to produce the deliverables outlined.

BCGS 6 is billed as the last seminar to be coordinated by Drs. Barker and McGregor. They are, however, hoping that researchers and academics across the Caribbean will take up the challenge to keep this forum of information sharing and networking going. The coordinating committee has established a Google group page that will allow participants and other researches within the region to keep the discussions going. The group can be found at https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/british-caribbean-geographical-seminar. In addition, the planning committee will be working towards the publication of work presented at the seminar through the UWI Press.

PS: The full Cobra paper in Spanish “Climate change policies and local sustainable practices: assessment of synergies and conflict in the Guiana Shield, South America” can be found at http://revistavirtual.redesma.org/vol14/articulo9.php?id=c1




QUICK DOWNLOAD: Check out the English version of the COBRA Handbook for Practitioners.