Challenging climate change & migration discourse: different understandings of timescale & temporality in the Maldives

Alex Arnall, Uma Kothari

Particular perspectives have been privileged in the climate change context from elites – climate change professionals and experts – compared to non-elite’s perceptions that have been excluded or marginalised. A common notion of the elite’s climate narrative is the use of ‘crisis’ and the portrayal of the future as an abstract picture taken out of its usual context and ordinary people’s everyday life. Non-elites have a different understanding of climate change and its timescale with a different sense of emergency. Divergent perceptions of how the climate is changing between elites and non-elites are based on various knowledge backgrounds and agendas. As such, prioritising elite perspectives may result in climate policies that are not in favour of the affected people and ignore more urgent socio-economic livelihood problems.  This article highlights the importance of increased dialogue between elites and non-elites on climate change and migration in the Maldives, arguing that non-elite perceptions should be better integrated in climate change adaptation policies.

Climate & mobility in the West African Sahel: conceptualising the local dimensions of the environment & migration nexus

Clemens Romankiewicz, Martin Doevenspeck

Environmental changes have for a long time been described as the root cause of climate linked migration. However, the authors of this article want to re-contextualise the drivers of migration and allow for a more diversified view of social dimensions to be taken into account. In the West African Sahel, as an example, seasonal migration is part of the culture and is due, first and foremost, to economic drivers, education and food security. Here, migration is seen as a livelihood strategy and indicates the desire for a better life. By adopting a local perspective on migration with respect to cultural norms and diverse interpretations of weather change, it becomes clear that weather variability is not usually the most urgent factor behind human migration. In fact migration can have a positive impact on sustainable development through the transfer of remittances, knowledge and skills. This article provides us with a new view of the link between climate change and migration, whilst advocating the application of co-development approaches and cross-sectorial policies that integrate migration with environmental and socio-economic issues.



Image credit: Oxfam International (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) From Flickr


Chanelle Andrén is a volunteer UK Climate Change and Migration Coalition and writes the weekly round up of new research on climate change, migration and displacement. Her background is in International Human Rights Law with specialisation in ‘Just Transitions’.

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