Swinomish Coastal Climate Impacts:
Community Health Impact Assessment
As part of the Swinomish project on The Science for Sustainable and Healthy Tribes – Climate Change Impacts: Coastal Climate Impacts to First Foods, Cultural Sites, and Tribal Community Health and Well-being, Swinomish wanted to get community input on coastal climate impacts to community health and well-being, and to assess and prioritize six coastal locations deemed at risk from climate impacts. EcoPlan International was asked to support the efforts of The Office of Planning and Community Development and the Swinomish Climate Change Community Advisory Board (CAB) to design and implement a community based evaluation. Using a range of community engagement methods, the team applied several evaluation techniques. First, technical climate change models were developed by project scientists to better understand climate risks to First Foods. Second, a facilitated structured impact assessment was conducted by Swinomish members to better understand climate risks in relation to six Swinomish Indigenous Health Indicators (IHIs), including: Community Connections; Natural Resource Security; Cultural Use and Practices; Education; Self-determination; and, Resilience. Third, a value analysis was completed by community members as to the importance of potential climate impacts on the IHIs leading to a value-weighted prioritization of the six coastal locations. Finally, an informed direct ranking by community members of the most important coastal locations to protect from anticipated climate change impacts was completed. This mixed method approach contributed to the final climate change adaptation plan.
One outcome of this project, is a series of online, freely accessible modules that describe why and how Swinomish modified the NIHB BRACE approach (module 1), and provide an example of how Swinomish used the indigenized BRACE framework in a climate change and health assessment project (module 2). Swinomish hopes that other Tribes may tailor the process and methods for use in their own communities.