Governing Climate Mobility (GCM)


Start date: 1 March, 2019 End date: 28 February, 2023 Project type: Research collaboration projects in Danida priority countries (Window 1) Project code: 18-09-DIIS Countries: Ethiopia Ghana Thematic areas: Climate change, State building, governance and civil society, Lead institution: Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS), Denmark Partner institutions: Forum for Social Studies (FSS), Ethiopia University of Ghana (UG), Ghana Project website: go to website (the site might be inactive) Project coordinator: Neil Webster Total grant: 10,218,791 DKK

Project summary

Understanding the impacts of climate change on human mobility is a serious challenge for the 21st century. We know that climate change shapes socio-economic dynamics in ways that intensify household vulnerability and insecurity. and that it interacts with a number of drivers of migration that hit the most vulnerable hardest. Yet, despite strong research literatures on climate change and migration, the nature of this relationship remains under-researched even as climate change impacts are intensifying. Specifically lacking is an understanding of how the nature of governance affects climate-related mobility, referred to in the program as ’climate mobility’, at the local level.

The program Governing Climate Mobility (GCM) sets out to address this need. Its main research objective is to determine how differing governance contexts, national and local, affect adaptive climate mobility.

GCM focuses on slow-onset climate change in two countries, Ethiopia and Ghana, that are experiencing similar environmental and climate challenges, where households practice migration in many forms, but where systems of governance are quite different. Ethiopia is seen as being a developmental state, ’statist’ in land and resource management, hierarchical and centralised. Ghana is seen as ’neo-customary’, with local informal institutions and traditional authorities operating alongside formal.

GCM works at different analytical levels - local field studies, national politics and policies, international comparisons - to generate new theoretical and empirical insights into climate mobility, to inform policy at country and international levels, and to strengthen research collaboration and capacities in the three partner countries - Ethiopia, Ghana and Denmark.


First-year report:


  • Objective 1: 2 workshops to develop common approach; preparation of ’conceptual framework paper’; analytical approach presentations 2019 and 2020 DSA (UK) conferences.
  • Objective 2: DSA discussions involving aid practitioners in 2019 have included presentations to MoFA (DK), Danish Embassy (Ethiopia), and relevant Ethiopian ministries and departments.
  • Objective 3: Partnership agreements signed; 2 joint workshops held; joint field visit undertaken; regular Skype meetings held.
  • Objective 4: Full participation of partners in decisions; regular virtual communications provided; data privacy rules agreed; travel reduced with workshops combined with field visits; partners responsible for securing the increased ’localisation’ of field studies (i.e. management and undertaking being country or sub-national with little physical external presence); and the organising of a virtual PhD workshop for the four PhD students funded under the programme.
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