van Bavel, B., Berrang-Ford, L., Harper, S.L., Ford, J.D., Elsey, H., Lwasa, S. and King, R. Contributions of scale: what we stand to gain from Indigenous and local inclusion in climate-health monitoring and surveillance systems. Environmental Research Letters, article online.
Understanding how climate change will affect global health is a defining challenge this century. This is predicated, however, on our ability to combine climate and health data to investigate the ways in which variations in climate, weather, and health outcomes interact. There is growing evidence to support the value of place- and community-based monitoring and surveillance efforts, which can contribute to improving both the quality and equity of data collection needed to investigate and understand the impacts of climate change on health. The inclusion of multiple and diverse knowledge systems in climate-health surveillance presents many benefits, as well as challenges. We conducted a systematic review, synthesis, and confidence assessment of the published literature on integrated monitoring and surveillance systems for climate change and public health. We examined the inclusion of diverse knowledge systems in climate-health literature, focusing on: 1) analytical framing of integrated monitoring and surveillance system processes 2) key contributions of Indigenous knowledge and local knowledge systems to integrated monitoring and surveillance systems processes; and 3) patterns of inclusion within these processes. In total, 24 studies met the inclusion criteria and were included for data extraction, appraisal, and analysis. Our findings indicate that the inclusion of diverse knowledge systems contributes to integrated climate-health monitoring and surveillance systems across multiple processes of detection, attribution, and action. These contributions include: the definition of meaningful problems; the collection of more responsive data; the reduction of selection and source biases; the processing and interpretation of more comprehensive datasets; the reduction of scale dependent biases; the development of multi-scale policy; long-term future planning; immediate decision making and prioritization of key issues; as well as creating effective knowledge-information-action pathways. The value of our findings and this review is to demonstrate how neither scientific, Indigenous, nor local knowledge systems alone will be able to contribute the breadth and depth of information necessary to detect, attribute, and inform action along these pathways of climate-health impact. Rather, it is the divergence or discordance between the methodologies and evidences of different knowledge systems that can contribute uniquely to this understanding. We critically discuss the possibility of what we, mainly local communities and experts, stand to lose if these processes of inclusion are not equitable. We explore how to shift the existing patterns of inclusion into balance by ensuring the equity of contributions and justice of inclusion in these integrated monitoring and surveillance system processes.