Gender and climate change in the Indian Himalayas: global threats, local vulnerabilities, and livelihood diversification at the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve
Abstract. Global climate change has numerous implications for members of mountain communities who feel the impacts in both physical and social dimensions. In the western Himalayas of India, a majority of residents maintain a livelihood strategy that includes a combination of subsistence or small-scale agriculture, livestock rearing, seasonal or long-term migration, and localized natural resource extraction. While warming temperatures, irregular patterns of precipitation and snowmelt, and changing biological systems present challenges to the viability of these traditional livelihood portfolios in general, we find that climate change is also undermining local communities' livelihood assets in gender-specific ways. In this paper, we present a case study from the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve (Uttarakhand, India) that both outlines the implications of climate change for women farmers in the area and highlights the potential for ecotourism (as a form of livelihood diversification) to strengthen both key livelihood assets of women and local communities' adaptive capacity more broadly. The paper intentionally employs a categorical focus on women but also addresses issues of inter-group and gender diversity. With this special issue in mind, suggestions for related research are proposed for consideration by climate scientists and social systems and/or policy modelers seeking to support gender justice through socially transformative perspectives and frameworks.