Picture of Dr Simon Dickinson, Department of Geography and Geology.
Dr Simon Dickinson, Department of Geography and Geology.

A geography researcher from Edge Hill University has been awarded funding to explore how coastal communities in Thailand can use vital data to manage risks around climate change.

Dr Simon Dickinson, Lecturer in Human Geography and whose research interests are in how non-governmental and community groups drive social change, has been awarded £25,000 from the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) to explore how marginalised groups in Thailand are making use of new environmental data to tackle inequalities.

Thailand’s shoreline and coastal communities are already extremely vulnerable to storms, floods and coastal erosion due to climate change, with some parts facing potential sea-level rises of one metre in the next 40 years. This poses an unprecedented challenge to Thai planning agencies who face spiralling costs of up to £70 million by 2100 due to such environmental risks.

A picture of dried fish being sold in Thailand.
Fish on sale in Thailand

At a time when knowledge about the risks of climate change is growing daily, the wider issues of how people make sense of it and how best to communicate it has never been more important.

Dr Dickinson explained:

“This funding represents a real opportunity to examine how knowledge about climate risk can be more meaningfully understood by different communities.

“It’s easy to forget that the data researchers produce can be used in quite different ways and settings. I want to find out how information is being used by communities to bring about impactful change in a variety of ways. In Thailand, there are instances of data being used to draw public attention to the social drivers of climate vulnerability – gender and class inequality, for example. I want to know, what does this new knowledge about risk mean for communities? How might they use it to draw attention to already-existing forms of inequality? These sorts of questions are critical in understanding how climate data is used effectively across people and places.”

The effects of climate change more broadly are expected to impact heavily on already marginalised and vulnerable groups in Thailand. Through this project, Dr Dickinson will work with local groups identified to be most at risk to understand their needs and how institutions and agencies can be more proactive in working with these communities to provide the genuine support they need.

A picture of fishermen and women loading up a boat.
One of many coastal communities

This collaborative project builds on important research being carried out by Edge Hill’s Geography and Geology department in Thailand. Professor Cherith Moses is currently leading a project in partnership with Mahidol University, Chulalongkorn University and Thammasat University to improve the overall understanding of how storms, floods and coastal erosion affect coastal Thai communities. It is already generating vital information about the vulnerability of different communities in relation to climate change and related coastal events. For more information about this research project, visit the website.

If you would like to study Geography, Edge Hill University offers a variety of courses including BA (Hons) GeographyBSc (Hons) Geography, BSc (Hons) Geoenvironmental Hazards and BSc (Hons) Geography and Geology.