Transformative human mobilities in a changing climate

Location: Australia and Pacific Island Countries of Fiji, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu 
Researchers: Dr Karen McNamara, University of Queensland; Dr Carol Farbotko, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Griffith University and University of Melbourne; Dr Celia McMichael, The University of Melbourne; Dr Fanny Thornton, University of Canberra; Dr Olivia Dun, The University of Melbourne; Dr Hedda Ransan-Cooper, Australian National University
Partners organisations: International Organization for Migration (IOM), United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC)
Duration: 3 years (2019-2022)
Funding organisation: Australian Research Council and in-kind support from partner organisations

Project Summary
In the Pacific Islands, the impacts of climate change join persistent human development challenges as inter-linked factors that threaten human well-being. This project aims to investigate the potential for diverse forms of human mobility to provide solutions to the new nexus of adaptation and development challenges. Policy analysis and in-depth case study research, conducted across five countries (Fiji, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Australia), aims to inform the creation of a conceptual framework that integrates mobility with climate change adaptation and development goals, policy and practice. This should provide significant contributions to shaping more sustainable futures for people displaced, relocated or migrating in the face of climate change across the region. 

This project is guided by the following research question: How does human mobility contribute to climate change adaptation and development goals or outcomes in the Pacific Islands region? This question will be examined through four project aims:

  • Aim 1: To identify and critically analyse key international, regional and national (Fiji, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Australia) policies that address or are concerned with mobility and climate change adaptation, and/or mobility and development.
  • Aim 2: To investigate the adaptive and development potential of mobility through multi-sited ethnographic case studies of mobile communities (in Fiji, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Australia).
  • Aim 3: To assess the barriers and opportunities for the effective integration of mobility, climate change adaptation and development in policy and programmes in the Pacific Islands region using findings from Aims 1 and 2.
  • Aim 4:  To develop (and disseminate) a Transformative Mobilities Framework to better integrate mobility, climate change adaptation and development in policy and programmes at various scales (local to international).

The 2018 article ‘Transformative Mobilities in the Pacific: Promoting Adaptation and Development in a Changing Climate’ in Asia and The Pacific Policy Studies elaborates further on the thinking behind the project and the research team’s ideas behind a Transformative Mobilities Framework.

Anticipated Project Impacts
This project aims to uncover how to better integrate human mobility, particularly relocation and migration, with climate change adaptation and development in policy and programmes across the Pacific Islands region. It intends to uncover pathways by which vulnerable populations can use migration and relocation to progress towards a sustainable future. Such pathways are intended to be valuable for enhancing overall adaptive capacity and resilience for Pacific Island populations.

Research team: 

Dr Karen McNamara
Senior Lecturer
School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
The University of Queensland
Brisbane, Australia
karen.mcnamara@uq.edu.au

Dr Olivia Dun
Postdoctoral Fellow 
School of Geography 
The University of Melbourne
Melbourne, Australia
olivia.dun@unimelb.edu.au

International Organization for Migration (IOM):
Sabira Coelho

Programme Manager
IOM Fiji Office
Suva, Fiji
scoelho@iom.int

UNESCAP: 
Tim Westbury 

Senior Sustainable Development Officer
ESCAP Pacific Office
Suva, Fiji
westbury@un.org

Pacific Conference of Churches: 
Frances Namoumou

Stewardship Desk
Pacific Conference of Churches
Suva, Fiji
Francesn@pcc.org.fj