Global migration due to climate change could have a positive impact on those who choose to stay in their homeland.
Until now, most research into migration and climate change has focused on people being driven from their homes due to impacts such as flooding and sea-level rise.
But researchers from RMIT’s Centre for Urban Research (CUR), in partnership with academics from the University of Bonn, Germany, are finding that forced migration could also increase the capacity of those who stay behind to respond to climate change impacts.
The TransRe research group, which is funded through the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, is developing a toolkit which will help community development practitioners when dealing with migration and climate change adaptation.
The toolkit project represents the first time the Centre for Urban Research has secured funding from the German government.
Researchers from the Centre for Urban Research, the University of Bonn, Chiang Mai University and the Raks Thai Foundation recently met in Chang Mai, northern Thailand for a four day workshop to plan the toolkit’s development.
Dr Hartmut Fünfgeld from the Centre for Urban Research is leading the toolkit project.
He is an expert in translating climate change adaptation research into practical approaches for planning and decision-making.
Fünfgeld said non-governmental organisations could use the toolkit as a framework to raise awareness of the impacts of climate change on migrant communities.
It could also be used to train community development workers to develop demonstration projects and events.
“The project addresses the migration-climate change nexus from a more positive, more constructive angle,” Fünfgeld said.
“We’re unearthing opportunities, new ideas and knowledge that could contribute to the planning phase when dealing with the impacts of climate change in rural areas.”
A potential benefit of forced migration for local communities involves returning migrants passing not only financial support onto their home farming communities, but also technical skills and know-how.
Through the project, the researchers are exploring various mechanisms for drawing on these benefits of migration.
One involves establishing a returning migrants’ skills database, which will provide rural areas with more opportunities for sharing knowledge in formal and informal ways.
Fünfgeld said the project gave the Centre for Urban Research the chance to collaborate with German researchers further and would strengthen research connections in Thailand, South East Asia’s second largest economy.
“The Centre for Urban Research is becoming recognised internationally for its expertise in applied climate change adaptation research,” he said.
The leader of the overall TransRe project, the University of Bonn’s Dr Patrick Sakdapolrak, said the toolkit development workshop had helped researchers gain a clear vision of how they will make their research impactful.