Portraits of Resilience Speaks a Thousand Words about Climate Change

By Jessi M. Kershner

For many of us, the realities of climate change are not yet being felt - we know they are out there, but we have not experienced significant impacts. For others, the effects of climate change are literally right outside their door.

Communities in the Arctic and Small Island Developing States (e.g., Fiji, Seychelles) are already experiencing the effects of climate change such as rising sea levels, coastal erosion, and extreme weather events. The photo below was taken in Shishmaref, Alaska, where many people are about to lose their homes to increasing coastal erosion.

Portraits of Resilience, a photography project launched by the Many Strong Voices programme, illustrates in a direct and personal way the impacts of climate change on communities in the Arctic and Small Island States and the efforts people are making to adapt. High school students in these areas were trained to take photos and write stories about what climate change means for their lives and futures. Portraits became a traveling exhibit, first appearing in 2009 at the UN climate talks in Copenhagen. It has since traveled to the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, and was featured at the 2010 climate summit in Cancun, Mexico.

Portraits of Resilience is intended to bring personal stories and faces to the attention of the general public and decision makers at international climate change negotiations and give the children and youth of these communities a voice on the world stage. The photos, words and posters created by students in these communities are amazing, so be sure to check out our Portraits of Resilience case study on CAKE or by visiting the project website. Also, check out our CAKE case studies on Newtok, Kivalina and Shishmaref to find out what these communities are doing to adapt to climate change impacts.