Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Pratyusha Basu


Climate Change, Coastal Management, Discourse, Knowledge, Power


This study seeks to understand how global discourses of sea level rise (SLR) and mangrove ecology influence national climate change adaptation policy to reduce coastal vulnerability in Suriname. A majority of the Surinamese population lives along the low elevation coastal zone and is highly exposed to projected SLR. Failure by the international community to reach agreement on climate change mitigation means that vulnerable coastal communities must adapt. The Suriname coast is predominantly shaped by mudbanks and mangroves which together provide protection against coastal erosion and trap sediments resulting in coastal accretion. Knowledge claims of mangrove ecology and utility in SLR adaptation are contested between scientists, policy makers and community activist groups. Scientific understandings of coastal processes, specifically the relationship between mangroves and mudbanks and resulting erosion, remain inconclusive. Local knowledge has offered alternative explanations for this relationship, but it also has limitations, particularly for large-scale ecological processes. This study argues that global discourses of SLR and mangrove ecology need to be countered for sustainable adaptation to ALR. Equitable adaptation should include local knowledge and understanding of coastal processes while also drawing on scientific methods of data analysis at large scales.