Type of practice:
CWS has conducted systematic learning about perceptions of climate change, migration, and in-place adaptation in six countries where we work with partner communities to increase climate resilience. An initial five-country study was conducted in 2021, in Cambodia, Georgia, Haiti, Indonesia and Kenya; and subsequent research was done in Vietnam in 2022. Building on existing community relationships, this aimed to improve planning for adaptation and disaster risk reduction, so that responses by local governments, community-based organizations, and CWS and other partners reflect diverse needs and emerging demand. It also sought to identify ways to strengthen the safety, dignity, and rights of people for whom adverse climate impacts are a factor in migration. CWS designed qualitative tools with participation from its country teams and community partners; and drawing on the TransRe Project’s Migration for Adaptation Guidebook. Tools included: (a) semi-structured interviews; (b) focus group discussions; and (c) key informant interviews (KII) with local government officials and customary leaders. These methods were identified as viable approaches for systematic local learning and as methods that could be implemented within COVID-19 guidelines and with minimal technological requirements. We applied human subjects’ protection safeguards, as outlined in a CWS guidance note on responsible use of data. From February to May 2021, we conducted 211 one-on-one interviews and 26 focus group discussions, in a total of 30 communities in Cambodia, Georgia, Haiti, Indonesia, and Kenya. Interviews with 43 key informants were also conducted across the five countries. In June 2021, 12 community report-back workshops were conducted to share interpretations of the data, and to discuss potential recommendations with study respondents and local stakeholders. Workshop participants were asked whether the findings presented seemed accurate and complete; which findings or recommendations seemed most important; who should be made aware of information collected; and whether there are ways that community groups or local government can use this information.
Benefit and Impact
Specific recommendations that emerged from impacted communities includes: (a) information centers that can make available accurate, reliably sourced information about migration, including requirements for safe, regular migration; (b) assistance to access state-issued identification, passports, and other documentation required for regular migration; and (c) well-informed communication about personal safety and rights and responsibilities in migration, across communities of origin, transit locations, and places of destination. These have been incorporated into CWS advocacy messaging with national governments and in UN and other international fora.
Drawing on these recommendations, CWS has incorporated information on safe and regular migration (both internally and internationally) into activities in Cambodia and Georgia. In support to locally led adaptation more broadly, CWS has also increased resources toward activities that build a robust understanding of climate risk and uncertainty, in line with findings from the study, as an action toward minimizing adverse drivers that compel migration and displacement.
As new policy responses are designed and tested, and especially as governments seek to align efforts to minimize adverse drivers (GCM Objective 2) with those to expand safe and regular pathways (GCM Objective 5), there will be further opportunities to invest in research, design, and evaluation. While there is value in continuing to increase the evidence base on climate and mobility, such investments should encourage research that reflects accountability to impacted communities and, ideally, research projects should leverage resources in real time toward locally led adaptation.
Recommendations(if the practice is to be replicated)
Ultimately, this increased the robustness and relevance of our findings and recommendations. This teamwork approach helped us to triangulate understandings of both specific terms and broader perceptions about in-place adaptation and migration; and reduced the potential for information and meaning being ‘lost in translation’. We recommend that this approach be used in similar studies, and that sufficient time and resources be allocated to various steps in the research process to allow for feedback loops within research teams, and between researchers and partner communities.
Ideally, research of this nature should reflect accountability to climate-impacted communities, and identify approaches in which climate-impacted communities, and people who are on the move because of climate change, are leading or co-leading research agendas and knowledge production. At the planning stage, financial and other resources should be earmarked for meaningful participation by partner communities, and tools should be developed that could be re-used or re-purposed by impacted community groups directly in the future.