A growing body of literature on climate change impact addresses the people strategies to adapt to environmental degradation in low-lying areas like deltas affected by sea level rise and river floods. In the academic and policy maker debate, migration is often discussed as a coping strategy against rapid-onset natural hazards and as an adaption to slow onset processes. This migration adaptive strategies approach present various profile of migration (trans-locality, seasonality, temporary mobility after cyclone, permanent migration to cities). Some population are considered trapped as they don’t have the means and the social network to move. However most of the studies demonstrate that migration is a multi-causal strategy, with mixed economic, socially, individual and environmental drivers. Rather, environmental change like flooding is shown to be a trigger for independent migration decisions when livelihoods are negatively affected, for example when crops are repeatedly lost. In such cases, livelihood stress is the direct cause for migration and environmental factors act as the trigger.
Some critical narratives aim to demonstrate how the discourse on migration-as-an-adaptation strategy rely on the neoliberal trend most the NGO’s embrace to speed up the transition of an economy based on agriculture to an urban and export oriented (shrimp and garment) one. As agriculture is considered more vulnerable to environmental change (floods and salinization) shrimp farming has been promoted as better adapted to climate change and has speed up the population land dispossession in coastal areas, hence migration flux. These academics prefer to rely on the livelihoods perspective, and on the concept of community resilience as the grounding factors of non-migration behaviour of people at risks. They take into account individual assets and collective resources: like the access to land, the change of land-use and their effect on labour.
This panel aims to address several approaches of adaptive strategies in the Mekong and Bengal delta, where mobility and immobility can challenge climate change impact, and to discuss the cascade effect of the land-use change strategy promote by donors and government over mobility. It will address the following research questions:
What are the impeding factors of environmental migration in Asian delta? What kind of in-situ adaptive strategies do deltaic population develop? How and to what extent ‘migration as adaptation’ is successful in these deltas? What are the blind-spots in environmental migration discourses in the perspectives of both deltas? How they can be addressed in policy discourses?