Conceptualizing and contextualizing research and policy for links between climate change and migration

Author: 
Upadhyay, H., I. Kelman, G.J. Lingaraj, A. Mishra, C.M. Shreve, and R. Stojanov
Publisher: 
International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management
Type of Publication: 
Status: 
Free
Language of Publication: 
English
Year of Publication: 
2015

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Himani Upadhyay, Ilan Kelman, Lingaraj G J, Arabinda Mishra, Cheney Shreve, Robert Stojanov, (2015) "Conceptualizing and contextualizing research and policy for links between climate change and migration", International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management, Vol. 7 Issue: 3, pp.394-417, https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCCSM-05-2014-0058

Abstract

Purpose – This paper aims to present a critical review of some literature on climate change and migration through conceptualizing and contextualizing the linkages between the two topics. Much literature on links between climate change and migration tends to downplay ambiguities in the terms and the limited empirical evidence. Conceptualizing refers to the knowledge gaps and the need to understand and detail (even if not agreeing on) conceptual issues such as terminology, definitions, linkages, drivers, thresholds, implications, data requirements and methodologies. Contextualizing refers to understanding the climate change and migration debate within wider topical and geographical contexts. Results identify major qualitative and quantitative gaps. Qualitatively, limited material exists on why people react differently to similar environmental stressors and why certain outcomes may arise. Quantitatively, credible and verifiable measures are not always available for assessing the climate change impacts on migration. This paper recommends a stratified, multi-disciplinary approach to facilitate policies regarding climate change and migration connections.

Design/methodology/approach – Illustrative literature review, clustering important themes found in published research and policy documents. First, qualitative aspects are covered, particularly in terms of definitions and terminology. Second, quantitative aspects are detailed, particularly in terms of data available and estimates made. Further, the paper is organized around two distinct areas, i.e. conceptualizing and contextualizing climate change and migration links.

Findings – Results identify major qualitative and quantitative gaps. Qualitatively, limited material exists on why people react differently to similar environmental stressors and why certain outcomes may arise. Quantitatively, credible and verifiable measures are not always available for assessing the climate change impacts on migration. This paper recommends a stratified, multi-disciplinary approach to facilitate policies regarding climate change and migration connections.

Originality/value – Without being comprehensive in the literature covered, this paper provided a critical overview and synthesis of climate change and migration work through the lens of conceptualization and contextualization. Major gaps in the literature were identified through an illustrative, not complete, review. Qualitative and quantitative aspects were covered including definitions, terminology, data available and estimates being made.

Keywords Climate change, Displacement, Migration, Adaptation

Paper type Research paper

© Himani Upadhyay, Ilan Kelman, Lingaraj G.J., Arabinda Mishra, Cheney Shreve and Robert Stojanov. Published by Emerald Group Publishing Limited. This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 3.0) licence. Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this article (for both commercial & non-commercial purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors. The full terms of this licence may be seen at http://creativecommons.org/licences/by/3.0/legalcode The authors are thankful to the Research Council of Norway for the supporting the following research project: “Conceptualizing and Contextualizing climate change and migration – Developing a Future Research Agenda” Project No: 204570/S50.