DECCMA report and take home from the Resilience 2017 conference

by Ricardo Safra de Campos

DECCMA members Dr Anwara Begum (BIDS, Bangladesh) and Dr Ricardo Safra de Campos (University of Exeter, UK), pictured below, attended the fourth Resilience Conference “Resilience Frontiers for Global Sustainability”, held in Stockholm, Sweden, from 20-23 August 2017. Themes such as global tele-connectivity, power, place, practice, perspective-taking and other social aspects were highlighted as key factors for a “new renaissance” of transformation towards resilience. The role of spatial and translocal connections were addressed in two sessions dedicated to population movements and their outcomes.

Ricardo + Anwara

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Dr Anwara Begum (pictured below) presented the paper Risks of involuntary resettlement initiatives in Bangladesh in the session “Resettlement as Transformation” proposed by DECCMA member Helen Adams (UCL, UK) and chaired by Jennifer Hodbod. The focus of the session was on involuntary resettlements as deliberate actions, often decided upon by a few external actors, and implemented for positive objectives but with unpredictable outcomes, representing a microcosm to understand trade-offs and uncertainties in transformation. Other speakers in the session were Sophie Blackburn (King’s College London) presenting Challenges of ‘deliberate transformation’: Lessons from post-tsunami resettlement in the Andaman Islands, South India; and Christopher Lyon (University of Dundee) presenting Resettlement as refugia under extreme environmental change scenarios.

Anwara Begum

Based on fieldwork findings and literature analysis, Anwara’s talk focused on the challenges faced by resettled communities in Bangladesh due to limited infrastructure, social services, or support for livelihoods transition provided by formal government backed resettlement projects. Of the interviewed households in her research, many of those who received resettlement support were unsatisfied. More than 75 per cent of people wanted to return to their ancestral home because of their desire to reconnect with their sense of community and previous livelihoods. There was no consensus on the efficacy of resettlement as a policy, particularly for women and children. Some respondents suggested that greater effort should be placed on community-based adaptation instead.

DECCMA also participated in a session organised by the TransRe Project: “Mobility, translocality and the resilience of socio-ecological systems: Exploring concepts and empirical evidence.” Migration and the various dimensions of population movement was a topic present in many sessions of the conference, yet it was discussed in a topical manner as a disturbing factor external to social-ecological systems rather than as a field of resilience research in its own right. How migration could be addressed from a resilience perspective was discussed by three presenters.

First, Sabine Henry (University of Namur, Belgium) presented insights from recent research on the role of migration for the left-behind rural communities in Ecuador. Second, Till Rockenbauch (University of Bonn, TransRe-Project, Germany) presented conceptual considerations and methodological approaches for addressing the role of translocal social networks vis-à-vis different capacities of resilience. Third, I presented the conceptual framework of DECCMA’s integrative model developed by Attila Lazar in Work Package 5. My talk provided insights into the modelling of household decisions under development in collaboration with Attila Lazar and Helen Adams using a Bayesian Belief Networks approach.

The audience discussed themes around policy and practical outcomes and the relationship between migration and resilience. The speakers debated the situation of migrants at destination areas including employment, housing and living conditions that allow or deny migrants to send remittances and decrease their level of vulnerability. The (in)ability of household members in sending areas to transform financial and social remittances into adaptive and transformative capacities was also discussed by both audience and panelists. The session was productive as it underlined the diversity of concepts, approaches and major challenges to be addressed by future research. It remains to be seen whether the various forms of population movements will become a more integral part of resilience and transformation research in the future.

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