Mid-term Strategic Vision

Midterm strategy statement: shifting boundaries for social justice

Global warming shifts the boundaries of our climatic system with deserts shrinking or expanding, cyclone zones moving polewards, rainfall patterns breaking their historical records to the top or the bottom, and seal levels rising. The stress this imposes on livelihoods triggers displacement and migration in many cases. At the same time, this climate change-induced migration (“climate migration”) is shaped by and interacts in complex ways with the shifting boundaries of other fields such as resource exploitation, social welfare systems, governance systems, population growth and urbanisation trends, shifts in opportunities for political participation, and so on. We therefore pursue a holistic approach that takes into account and puts the shifting boundaries of the climate into relation with other shifting boundaries of global, national and local societies.

The loss of assets and of citizen rights triggered by “climate migration” and the shifts in entitlements caused by this loss feed back into the (re)production of (new) patterns of inequality and discrimination that are inscribed into our laws, our structures of governance and political and economic domination, our gender and ethnic/racial relations, our systems of social welfare and charity. At the same time, the notion of inequality points to our ideas of equality and social justice. Action members hold the viewpoint that contributing to social justice and to the heightened perception of questions of social (in)equality in “climate migration” should be the leading normative direction of its activities. Exploring the potential of universal human rights as a boundary-crossing and mediating force that could protect entitlements is an important element in that.

This being said, the Action stresses the human agency that can be involved in “climate migration”. Human agency finds its expression, amongst other things, in decisions to opt for migration and mobility as a livelihood strategy, in activities to use and shape policies according to needs, and in social networking to reach pursued aims. The Action seeks to support the enhancement of such capabilities. As a European-based scientific network, we therefore explicitly seek to enable increased participation of non-European researchers as well as of the affected people, of concerned activists and practitioners in the debate. Thus we hope to gather the plethora of voices, in particular of marginalised areas, into a global mosaic of perspectives and to enable joint actions and networking.

Accordingly, the Action encourages transnational approaches that trace the communalities, differences and relationships between people set in motion in the context of sudden and slow-onset natural disasters in all cardinal points. This includes inquiring into the interrelatedness of the responses of decision-makers and practitioners in North and South, East and West. A transnational approach could contribute to shifting the boundaries of our research from methodological nationalism towards a systematic consideration of the interrelatedness of different social spaces. This comprises an articulation of the analysis and, therefore, interventions on different scales, from the local to the national, regional, and global scale. The analysis of all levels and their interrelatedness, including the local level, is paramount.

The increased pace of changes and simultaneity of diverse challenges creates increased pressures on governance. With respect to “climate migration”, this includes, inter alia, the management of urbanisation, planned relocation, questions of asylum, humanitarian and border policies, and facilitation of migration as a potential source of adaptation. Better governance requires the consideration of multiple scales in data collection as well as in the design of governance mechanisms. The Action aims to contribute to the improvement of the existing mechanisms and the development of new ones to address the challenges ahead, but will do so by critically investigating into existing climate-related policies and politics that perpetuate strategies which result in deepening existing inequalities instead of mitigating them.

We thus aim at contributing to the development of policy-relevant categories that work in favour of those affected by climate-related displacement and migration. In this regard we aim for more and appropriate quantitative research and inquiries into the intelligent combination of qualitative and quantitative research. By considering different time and governance scales as well as interdisciplinary perspectives, we seek to enable the development of adequate indicators.

Finally, the Action encourages dialogue and interaction between working groups and disciplines in order to generate synergies and mutual understanding.

Midterm strategy statement of COST Action IS1101 “Climate Change and Migration”

The Action pursues a holistic approach to “climate migration” that puts the impact of the shifting boundaries of the climate on livelihoods into relation with other shifting boundaries of global, national and local societies.

It aims at contributing to social justice and to the heightened perception of questions of social (in)equality in “climate migration” inscribed into our laws, our structures of governance and domination, our gender and ethnic/racial relations, our systems of social welfare and charity.

The Action stresses the human agency that can be involved in “climate migration” and seeks to support the enhancement of respective capabilities. In this regard it explicitly aims for the increased participation of non-European researchers as well as of the affected people, of concerned activists and practitioners in the debate.

It encourages transnational approaches that trace the communalities, differences and relationships between people set in motion in the context of sudden and slow-onset natural disasters in all cardinal points. This includes inquiring into the interrelatedness of the responses of decision-makers and practitioners in North and South, East and West
This requires the articulation of the analysis and, therefore, interventions on different scales, from the local to the national, regional, and global scale. The analysis of all levels and their interrelatedness, including the local level, is paramount.

The Action aims to contribute to the improvement of the existing governance mechanisms and the development of new ones to address the challenges ahead, but will do so by critically investigating into existing climate-related policies and politics.

For that purpose we aim for more and appropriate quantitative research and inquiries into the intelligent combination of qualitative and quantitative research. By considering different time and governance scales as well as interdisciplinary perspectives, we seek to enable the development of adequate indicators.

Finally, the Action encourages dialogue and interaction between working groups and disciplines in order to generate synergies and mutual understanding.