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Social Scientists Declare Climate Emergency

Members of the Association of Social Anthropologists of Aotearoa/New Zealand (ASAA/NZ) have unanimously agreed to declare a climate emergency and ratified the terms of the declaration.

The organisation’s declaration recognises the reality that human beings throughout history have come together in times of crisis to confront threats to their societies, their wellbeing and their environment. Scientific evidence confirms the greatest existential threat confronting humans is anthropogenic climate change. It also confirms the role of Indigenous knowledge and ownership of land, sea and other natural resources in protecting biodiversity and mitigating species decline.

Chair of the ASAA/NZ, Brigitte Bonisch-Brednich said “As anthropologists we are familiar with the interdependencies between the environment, livelihoods, cultures, politics, and everyday life within societies around the world. Given the mounting threats to our collective wellbeing, the time for urgent action is now.”

The declaration commits the organisation to a number of collective actions as well as behavioural changes for individual members. The association plans to make its conferences more climate aware and friendly by devoting at least one panel a year to the climate crisis, providing a digital attendance option, encouraging the use of public transport, and adopting a zero waste policy.

Significantly, the ASAA/NZ intends encouraging members and university departments to devote more research effort, policy input and informed public commentary to understanding, mitigating and adapting to climate change.

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The association will also create and support a working group that pools knowledge and expertise to identify ways in which social anthropologists can have input into Aotearoa’s local and national government policy development.

Dr Nayantara Sheoran Appleton stated, regarding the association’s action: “As social scientists, we recognise the climate crisis is the outcome of institutional as well as individual behaviour. We cannot continue with ‘business as usual.’ We believe that actions to avoid the threatened catastrophe must come from corporations, politicians, and institutions, as well as adaptations in lifestyles.”

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