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Development that is inclusive and sustainable requires significant social and environmental transformations from current trajectories, building on demographic realities such as changing profiles of populations, and increased levels of mobility. Migration is a major driving force of urbanisation in all global regions, partly facilitated through emerging technologies and declining costs of movement and communication. Social transformations associated with increased migration are highly uneven but include shifts in the location of economic activities, major urban growth, and changing individual incentives and social constraints on sustainability trajectories. Yet, there is limited empirical evidence on how observed population movements can both challenge and promote sustainable transformations. This paper examines how migration transforms places and societies, by providing new evidence on the behaviours and practices of individuals who are part of such transformations as they assimilate, converge or remain distinctive to prior populations. Focusing on individuals in rapidly expanding cities in the Global South, this study uses new biographical life-history survey data from Accra, Ghana, to examine the barriers and enablers of sustainability practices among diverse types of migrants and a sample of non-migrants. The study uses data from 1,163 individuals: international migrants from the West African sub-region (5 5 9), internal migrants (2 9 9), and non-migrants (3 0 5) in Accra. The findings show that sustainability practices established before migration are predictors of current sustainability practices, including proactive recycling, conservation activities, and choice of mode of transportation, but that there is some convergence between behaviours, reflecting assimilation, place attachment and other factors. Internal migrants in Accra exhibit stronger sustainability practices than international migrants. Individual levels of poverty, poor infrastructural development, and perceptions about life satisfaction in the neighbourhood negatively affect sustainability practices among all respondents. These results suggest that poverty and social exclusion are critical to addressing sustainability issues in urban contexts. It is important for policy makers to address issues of urban poverty, cumulative deprivation, and inequality as strong barriers to the adoption of sustainability practices in urban areas.

Abu, Mumuni, Codjoe, Samuel N.A., Adger, W. Neil, Fransen, Sonja, Dominique Jolivet, Ricardo Safra De Campos, Maria Franco Gavonel, Charles Agyei-Asabere, Anita H. Fábos, Caroline Zickgraf, (2024). Global Environmental Change, 84.

Micro-scale transformations in sustainability practices: Insights from new migrant populations in growing urban settlements

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