Home | Overview | Publications | People | Search | Subscribe | Sponsors


Ogunseitan, Oladele A. 2000. "Framing Vulnerability: Global Environmental Assessments and the African Burden of Disease." Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs (BCSIA) Discussion Paper 2000-21. Cambridge, MA: Environment and Natural Resources Program, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

Full text: PDF version (Download free Adobe Acrobat Reader)


In many African countries, the reconciliation of national development plans with global priority to mitigate climate change remains an intractable policy controversy.  Its resolution requires conviction of vulnerability to new conditions that will exacerbate preexisting environmental stresses on society and public welfare.  The impacts of climate on human health are a common concern in Africa, and it is proposed here as a platform for negotiating controversies surrounding participation and the arrogation of global support for local vulnerability assessments.  For this purpose, the integration of local valuation of disease burden into global climate impact assessments is essential.  However, the communication pathways involved in progressing from issue framing to political action on environmental health issues are not well understood.  This paper addresses the limitations of boundary institutions where pertinent communication nodes for framing vulnerability assessments are embedded.  These limitations include the perception of intellectual hegemony in the framing of problems associated with global environmental change, and in the financing of regional assessments.  The paper provides a conceptual framework for understanding the frequency and mode of participation of African nations in country study programs that were designed to support developing countries in fulfilling their obligations to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.  In certain cases, frame congruence between existent local challenges and available international resources serve to attenuate difficulties in reaching global consensus despite apparent imbalances in regional priorities.  The study also found that selective use of metaphorical frames can contribute to sustaining capacity building successes where methodological diversity is accepted, and the integration of local perspectives is possible.  The paper concludes by offering an emergent structure where cross-scale problems encountered in translating rhetorical and action frames are approached through open-ended vulnerability assessments that offer opportunities for critical frame reflection.  Such progressive assessments are likely to sustain equal engagement of indigenous and imported capacity for adapting to the impacts of global climate change.

Keywords: framing, vulnerability, health, Africa, cross-scale, boundary institutions

Subsequent History

· Revised version published in the Global Environmental Change journal (Abstract)
New Citation: Ogunseitan, O. A. 2003. "Framing Environmental Change in Africa: Cross-scale Institutional Constraints on Progressing from Rhetoric to Action against Vulnerability." Global Environmental Change 13(2): 101-111.


Home | Overview | Publications | People | Search | Subscribe | Sponsors
Contact the webmaster with any comments, questions, or problems.
For information about related activities, visit the Science, Environment and Development Group web site.
Copyright © 2006 President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Report copyright infringements.
Last modified: 01 May 2006