Governing Climate Mobility (GCM)


Start date: 1 March, 2019 End date: 31 March, 2024 Project type: Research projects in countries with extended development cooperation (earlier 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.


Midterm report
The Governing Climate Mobility Research Programme seeks to question the tendency to link climate change and migration causally. It explores the role of government and other political authorities in shaping the spaces in which decisions on practices are taken in localities facing slow-onset climate change. Precarity rooted in diverse factors is explored for the agency practiced by households and the ways structures, institutions, and discourses affect and form the contexts. Can mobility and immobility be viewed as climate adaptation? Surveys of 800+ households have been conducted by partner institutions in two different localities in each country. These were preceded by scoping studies and followed by in-depth interviews and focus group discussions - a mixed methodology approach. The data is currently being analyzed, a number of journal articles are under preparation, some in review. Papers for an edited volume are being written. Policy dialogues have been held with key stakeholders in Ghana, Ethiopia and Denmark. Virtual conferences have been attended and a panel organised at the 2021 DSA conference in the UK.
Despite challenges faced due to Covid in both countries plus the conflict in Ethiopia, it is expected that the programme will be completed in 2023. The formal end is 28/02/2023. Thereafter PhDs, MA theses and a number of publications should be produced prior to the end of the year.

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