Themes

 

Theme 1

Developing and calibrating a migration-sustainability model

The conceptual development of a comprehensive relationship between migration and sustainability transitions will build on demographic transition theories and models. Those models show that population structures are not static and that demographic transformations are highly diversified across countries. Development studies and economic analysis converge in their findings that migration has, on aggregate, significant benefits at the individual level and to both source and destination societies. There are long shared histories of colonial and post-colonial movements between regions of the world. Contemporary realities and political contestation results from further transitions as populations in low-fertility destination areas across the world are gradually being replaced by both internal and international immigrants. New population movements have implications for social, economic and environmental aspects dimensions of sustainability. Previous studies theorise migration-sustainability interactions from a biophysical, ecological and behavioural perspective, cultural and sociolinguistic, or policy and development perspectives. Research in this theme will integrate these diverse perspectives and data to develop a comprehensive model to theorise a novel relationship between migration and sustainability that addresses two research questions:

  • What is the environmental footprint and consequences of population movement in both migration source and destination areas?

  • ​Can migration be harnessed to contribute to sustainability transitions globally?

 


Approach

  • Research to answer RQ1.1 will develop a new conceptual model of migration - sustainability relations based on the changing composition of populations driven by spatial mobility. On a macro scale, Mobility Transition Theory posits there are definite, patterned regularities in the forms of population mobility through space-time during recent history, and these regularities comprise an essential component of the modernization process. For example, transitional societies, experience tapering of rural-urban migration, while urbanised societies exhibit complex migration systems and circulatory movements. In the context of sustainability and development priorities, this represents diverse sets of priorities and challenges faced by countries at different stages of the mobility transition. the micro-scale, migrant populations exhibit characteristics of adaptability and exercise agency in reconfiguring the socio-economic and ecological environment around them. Such ability is based on social capacity, networks of affiliations in destination areas and migrant connections to international diasporas.
     

  • The work in Theme 1 builds on theories of migration as social transformation. Diverse aspects of sustainability as proposed by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) require significant analysis of the role of population movements. These include main global trends that characterize contemporary international and internal migration. For example, the impact of growing ethnic diversity on society in destination regions and countries. Social transformations are closely linked to major shifts in dominant economic, political and strategic relationships. On a macro scale, they represent complexity, interconnectedness, variability, context, and multi-level mediations of change. Migrants have been recognised as agents of social transformation because they bring a discrete set of cultural behaviours that facilitate a step - change in which existing social-economic patterns are questioned and many are reconfigured. For example, this has implications on consumption behaviour, ecological footprint or political representation as elements of social and environmental sustainability.
     

  • The resulting model will be used to investigate future directions of migration, such as the potential role of liberalisation of mobility and movement of people, or opposing trends of balkanisation to restrict migratory movements. To do so, it will integrate the migration - sustainability model with the broad global migration scenarios developed by Foresight initiative.

 

Outcome

  • The outcome of this Theme will be a new conceptual model and an empirical investigation of the sustainability of migratory flows in multiple dimensions calibrated against a robust indicator framework for all major countries. Such an index will assess the implications of migration on sustainability based on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 11 on ‘Inclusive, Safe, Resilient and Sustainable Cities’, as well as for SDGs on Reduced Inequalities (Goal 10), Responsible Consumption and Production (Goal 12), amongst others. The theoretical model and the empirical framework represent distinct contributions to research on describing aggregate alternative indicators of sustainability transitions, such as genuine progress or sustainable welfare, and the impacts of future demographic shifts.

 


Beneficiaries

  • City planners in the six study locations will benefit in the short term by having new information on hidden residents and critical social processes that are a potential resource for the implementation of sustainability and building resilience of the cities. The new information will include the mechanisms of social exclusion and marginalisation that city planners and health services may have some leverage over. They will benefit by co-designing and participating from the outset in activities that seek to build empathy and help them take perspectives of hidden populations. Through ensuring their participation in dissemination workshops, new knowledge generated will be transferred through academic as well as policy and practice routes. The research will uncover experiences of migrant populations through co-production between researchers, migrants and planners. The project will engage with city authorities who will be co-creating research over the course of the project and disseminate results to knowledge brokers such as the Rockefeller 100 Resilient Cities Program, UN Habitat, the Covenant for Mayors or the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group.
     

  • International development stakeholders include the International Organization for Migration and organisations focussed on SDGs on urban areas and health. The project results will be of direct interest for the work of the Platform on Disaster Displacement, a new international organisation tasked with the implementation of the Nansen Protection Agenda, which seeks to foster the protection of rights of people displaced by disasters. It will also feed into the work programme of the Task Forced on Displacement established within the framework of Warsaw International Mechanism of UNFCCC.

 

 

Theme 2

Lifecourse, identity and collective action in sustainable transformations

Research under Theme 2 addresses the critical issues of how changes in values, behaviour and identity at the individual level aggregate into societal transformations and how they are scaled to collective levels. It deals explicitly with the identity and cultural dimensions of the Programme call. The research design is to examine how new migrant populations contribute to transformations to sustainability. It does so by collecting data and answering specific research questions on issues of life course, resource and consumption intensity dimensions of mobile populations. It further examines issues of identity, place attachment, and the potential for migrant populations to be active agents for change. In short, it hypothesizes that safe, sustainable and resilient cities depend on how quickly new populations gain human security, integrate in positive ways, and have the opportunity to participate in that future trajectory. Thus, the specific Theme-level research questions are:

  • Can individuals transform to sustainability as they move locations?

  • ​Can new migrant populations play a catalytic role in planning for and collectively engaging in sustainability?

 


Approach

  • The research first examines individual identity and behaviour of migrant and older - established resident populations (RQ2.1), and secondly their collective action for sustainability (RQ2.2). For RQ2.1 on identity and behaviour, the research builds on sociological and psychological traditions focused on life course and life events as transformative windows of change. Individuals experience their own transformations as they form households or move locations: these present windows of opportunity for realignment of values and identity.

  • While it is well - established that migration tends to increase perceived well - being, the key issue for sustainability is how identity formation relates to place attachment and investment in the sustainability of destination areas. Current research by Exeter, Ghana and Dhaka team members, for example, is exploring place attachment among migrant communities (unpublished DECCMA project data), showing that well - being is positively and significantly correlated with increasing attachment to place among new residents. The research here will integrate such work on identity and explicitly examine how and when moving location through migration affects all areas of identity, from consumption patterns, through to place as a mediating factor in transformative processes.
     

  • The research under RQ2.2 complements that on individual identity by recognising migrant populations as a major potential resource for sustainability. Participatory action research will address the prospects for integrating new populations into planning for sustainability. In effect, the research hypothesizes that collective action for transformations in growing urban settlements is constrained by how effectively new populations are brought into civic life and processes of planning for sustainability. The research builds on the well - developed idea that migrant populations are a major source of innovation, but further focuses on the less researched question of migrants as active agents in social innovation for safe and sustainable cities.
     

  • Migration research argues that population movement creates opportunities for pathways from poverty; and that migration intensifies the rural and urban economic linkages. Yet new low-income populations moving to urban centres most often cluster in areas where they are exposed to environmental hazards such as poor air and water quality, flooding or landslides, and also face differential access to services and labour markets. While the benefits of integration and rights-to-the-city approaches are well-established, this research seeks to specifically answer questions on how migrant population integration represents a resource for sustainable transformations, using in-depth participatory research designs.

 

Outcome

  • This research will create new insights into the transformational nature of migration including the collective potential of new migrant populations for transforming destination areas, by examining their individual patterns of sustainability, and their civil society engagement around new places. These insights on identity and cultural dimensions of transformation will also be used directly in Theme 3 to develop perspectives on identity and integration within the focus on the governance of migration for sustainability, as well as being integrated into the overall assessment of migration in theories and evidence for transformation.

 


Beneficiaries

  • Migrant populations in the six study locations and beyond. Urban space is created unevenly by those who inhabit it: new populations will benefit in the long term by having their life chances enhanced by changes that will recognise their contribution and potential for implementing sustainable development in the city. In the short - term they will benefit by having their perspectives recognised and be empowered through the participatory methods, such as photo elicitation, to engage with planners and policymakers. What will be done? Migrant populations will be recruited into the research process in the six localities, including through photo-elicitation techniques and will participate directly with urban planners in recognising the others’ perspectives. Hence the activities will benefit migrant populations by building empathy between planners and migrant populations. Raising the issue of wellbeing of the migrants at the policy level could help to enhance their integration into sustainability initiatives in urban locations.
     

  • City planners in the six study locations will benefit in the short term by having new information on hidden residents and critical social processes that are a potential resource for the implementation of sustainability and building resilience of the cities. The new information will include the mechanisms of social exclusion and marginalisation that city planners and health services may have some leverage over. They will benefit by co-designing and participating from the outset in activities that seek to build empathy and help them take perspectives of hidden populations. Through ensuring their participation in dissemination workshops, new knowledge generated will be transferred through academic as well as policy and practice routes. The research will uncover experiences of migrant populations through co-production between researchers, migrants and planners. The project will engage with city authorities who will be co-creating research over the course of the project and disseminate results to knowledge brokers such as the Rockefeller 100 Resilient Cities Program, UN Habitat, the Covenant for Mayors or the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group.
     

  • International development stakeholders include the International Organization for Migration and organisations focussed on SDGs on urban areas and health.

 

 

Theme 3

Governing migration towards sustainability

The research in this Theme uses policy analysis to focus on perceptions and interventions around what could be sustainable migration. The idea of sustainable migration resonates very differently across environmental policy and migration policy domains. While migration is increasingly recognised as a potential for sustainability transitions, international migration flows are also increasingly seen as unsustainable by some governments, in the sense of creating policy challenges for economic and social cohesion. This portrayal of migration as unsustainable in the social and political spheres reflects the politicization of international migration and masks the reality of migration processes. Therefore, this Theme, in essence, examines the overlooked influences and possible contradictions between the governance of sustainability and the governance of migration. The research will assess the influence of different modes of governance of migration towards sustainability, as is organised around two research questions:

  • What are the connections between the governance of migration and the governance of sustainability?

  • ​How do local policies address the role of migration in the transformation towards sustainability?

 

 

Approach

  • The starting point of this theme revolves around the implicit approaches to migration in environmental and migration policies. Since the late 2000s, migration has been increasingly recognised as a possible adaptation strategy in cli mate policies, allowing for an alleviation of demographic pressure on the environment, and a diversification of income for the migrants. Therefore, migration has increasingly become a matter of environmental policy and has been formally recognised in the Cancun Adaptation Framework, adopted in 2010: migration has been largely accounted for in adaptation plans and policies since then.
     

  • Yet migration policies at national levels in every region of the world appear to prioritise retaining populations in place, e ven where such immobility has significant social cost. The events leading to large flows of refugees from conflict zones into Europe since 2014 has led to a massive reinforcement of country borders in EU countries, and policy responses have tried to limit migration through different instruments. Indeed, the limitation of migration now appears as a key objective of migration policies. Even when the positive contribution of migration is acknowledged, this contribution is usually limited to economic growth, de mographic balance or cultural diversity: potential contributions of migration to the transformation towards sustainability is never acknowledged. On the contrary, current migration flows are widely considered as unsustainable, both for the countries of ori gin and of destination. Yet immobility is identified as a key risk in regions affec ted by environmental disruption. The research interrogates these policy contradictions and focuses on borders, regulation of movement and the securitization of both migration and environmental challenges.
     

  • Research under RQ3.1 will address both international, but also sub-national policies and practices on migration. Local policies for migrants ’ integration can support sustainable transformations, and the research will theref ore not limit itself to global governance frameworks, but will also assess how they are delineated at the local level. Doing so, the research will consider not only the impacts of migration for destination areas – often an urban centre – but also for the area of origin, as the transformation towards sustainability of the former might hinder the sustainability of the latter, and vice versa.
     

  • The research will examine linkages between local and global dimensions of migration governance. Indeed, local and globa l governance of migration are often considered independently from each other, as if they had no mutual influence. Global governance focuses almost exclusively on international migration, while local governance is primarily concerned with internal migration as if both were completely distinct policy objects. On the contrary, this theme will analyse potential for policy continuum between internal and international migration, and from local to international levels of governance.

 


Beneficiaries

  • This research will specify policy principles that integrate the reality of migration into sustainability transition strategies. It will integrate the research from Theme 1 on the migration - sustainability pathways, and Theme 2 research on potential to generate sustainability transitions in order to propose usable and salient knowledge for strategies, focused on cities, countries, and key international organisations including the EU, the International Organisation for Migration, and international environmental agreements.
     

  • In particular, this research to answer RQ3 will seek to propose more coherent and comprehensive frameworks across migration and environmental policies, as well as within borders and across borders, in order to promote the role of migration in the transformation towards sustainability. Such frameworks exist when it comes to the role of migration for economic or demographic growth, or cultural diversity, but remain absent with regard to sustainability.

 


Beneficiaries

  • Government agencies engaged in Theme 3 research will benefit through the example of the six localities in their countries on the role and potential for migrant communities to engage and participate in planning for sustainability in all cities. They will benefit in the long term through increased social cohesion and security in urban centres and through exposure to national and global networks on urban resilience and human security. The project will produce policy recommendations for a better integration of migration in sustainability policies that will be of direct interest for local policymakers. Whenever possible, they will be invited to consortium meetings in order to share with them preliminary results and approaches.
     

  • Migrant populations (in the six study locations and beyond).
     

  • City planners (in the six study locations and knowledge brokers such as the Rockefeller 100 Resilient Cities Program and UN Habitat).

 

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