New ESPA open access book available “Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation: Trade-offs and Governance”

The Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) programme has just released a book – “Ecosystem Services and Poverty Alleviation. Trade-offs and Governance”. It synthesises the headline messages from the 9 year duration ESPA programme and over 120 products that were funded within it.

Particularly timely in light of the 17 ambitious Sustainable Development Goals, the book provides  evidence to address the questions at the heart of ecosystems and wellbeing research. It reviews the impacts of ongoing drivers of change and presents new ways to achieve sustainable wellbeing, equity, diversity, and resilience. The authors evaluate the potential solutions that can be offered by carefully-designed conservation projects, payment schemes, and novel governance approaches across scales – from local to national and international – highlighting trade offs and governance systems to achieve sustainable development.

The entire book is open access, and includes a chapter by DECCMA Co-PI Professor Neil Adger on Interactions of migration and population dynamics with ecosystem services.

DECCMA team members reflect on the experience of working in an international and multi-disciplinary consortium

by Katharine Vincent

The DECCMA team comprises an international, multi-disciplinary consortium all working together to achieve the common goal of evaluating migration as an adaptation in the context of climate change in deltas. In this short clip we outline some of the highlights and challenges of working as part of a consortium, and some lessons learned for future consortium projects.

New short film-Sustainable livelihoods in the Volta delta, Ghana

by Katharine Vincent

The Volta delta in Ghana is a challenging place to live. Since the construction of the Volta dam at Akosombo, the regulation of downstream river flows have affected fish spawning and migration patterns, and the reduced likelihood of flooding affects the suitability of floodplain land for agriculture. Mangrove cultivation and harvesting is being promoted by the government as a sustainable livelihood for delta inhabitants. The wood is traded, used for construction, and popular for smoking fish. A new short film, produced by Klaus Wohlmann with the DECCMA team, outlines this activity.

Mangrove forestry (photo: Klaus Wohlmann)

What Drives Government Decisions to (Not) Support Resettlement? New blog on TransRe.org by DECCMA researchers

by Colette Mortreux, Ricardo Safra de Campos and Neil Adger

[Reposted from www.transre.org]

Sea level rise, floods, and tropical cyclones are affecting the very land on which coastal and delta populations live. Loss of houses, infrastructure, and agricultural land prompts governments to consider options to fulfil their role in protecting their citizens. Planned relocations of people from one place to another are often politically controversial. However, whilst the pros and cons of resettlement decisions are often debated, less attention is paid to the consequences of not intervening.

International protocols exist to guide resettlement and planned location, but within individual states the decision is often political. In the Indian Sundarbans delta, the living conditions have become so precarious that communities are requesting government intervention, increasing the legitimacy of the resettlement. However, taking the example of three communities facing similar levels of threats, the response by government has not been correspondingly similar. So the question is – what determines whether or not governments take action, and the nature of that action?

Developing a model to explain government (in)action

In a new paper in Global Environmental Change we propose a conceptual model that is designed to explain government action or inaction with regard to planned relocation of vulnerable communities.

show more

The model takes into account three main factors: what a government wants to do, what it is obliged to do, and what populations demand from them. The model suggests that decisions to act or not act on relocation initiatives (as shown in section B) are driven by underlying political determinants (section A), leading to outcomes for the populations involved (section C). The pathways in the figure demonstrate the diversity of government responses, and what drives them, as well as the implications this can have on the communities affected by environmental change.

fig1.jpg

Figure 1: Conceptual model of planned relocation

Different approaches to relocation in the Indian Sundarbans delta

In the Sagar block of the Indian Sundarbans, there is a history of significant environment- displacement from coastal flooding, storm surges, erosion, and salinization. The number of people displaced since the 1970s is estimated to be around 4,000 from Ghoramara and Lohachara. Various resettlement programs have been used in the past. Recently, the communities of Ghoramara, Beguakhali and Dhablat have all demanded action, yet government responses to displacement have been diverse. In Ghoromara, there has been sustained government action to formally settle those displaced by erosion. In Beguakhali, the government has not formally resettled displaced households, but has invested in large-scale coastal embankments to protect the community. In Dhablat, the government has taken no action.

fig2.jpg

Figure 2: Location of the communities in the Sagar block, Indian Sundarbans delta

Planned resettlement from Ghoromara

Resettlement from Ghoromara began in 1977 after the government of West Bengal declared it a “no man’s land” because of the high rates of erosion. The recently elected communist government of West Bengal declared a relocation policy in which land, and sometimes housing, were provided to resettled communities. But resettlement was not without problems. Some of the allocated land was saline and useless for farming. There was also tension with host communities in Sagar island, who resented the support provided to the former-Ghoromara residents.

Avoided resettlement: constructing an embankment to protect communities in Beguakhali

In Beguakhali the government has had a very different response to environmental pressures on the land. A coastal embankment was built and disaster relief provided in cases of breach, for example, after the major cyclone, Aila, in 2009. However, the embankment construction was primarily motivated by the government of India’s decision to develop a deep-sea port in Beguakhali for the transport of coal and iron – although this has not yet started.

Dhablat: no government action to environmental pressures

In Dhablat, 10 kilometers east of Beguakhali, the government provided disaster relief after successive embankment breaches.  However, unlike Beguakhali, there has been no commitment to rebuild the embankment nor, as in Ghoromara, support for relocation. One resident explained that flooding can leave them waist deep in water in their house. Many that can afford to do so have migrated out, leaving a small ‘trapped population.’

Linking to the model: reasons for different government responses

Tracing the model back from the different outcomes in each community highlights the interplay of different factors that led to the action/inaction.  In Ghoromara, the newly-installed communist government was keen to show commitment to land redistribution and social welfare, creating a powerful incentive for government action.

This political change likely played a big role in overcoming the risk aversion and reluctance for action that often characterizes government response. This risk aversion was more evident in Begukhali, where embankment reconstruction also served the additional purpose of enabling the port construction, thus fitting with broader development goals.  In Dhablat, the remaining trapped population are highly marginalized and lack sufficient voice to hold government accountable for inaction.

Implications for relocation elsewhere

Climate change will exacerbate the environmental pressures that create cause for relocation. To date, the focus on relocation action by government overlooks inaction. Our model provides a mechanism to analyze these decisions.

Ultimately, inaction on resettlement can give rise to other public policy issues. As shown in Dhablat, for example, lack of response by government tends to lead to migration of individuals and households of their own accord – thereby altering the requirements for public infrastructure and services in their new locations. However, the capacity to migrate is dependent on resources, which means that trapped populations become concentrated in marginal and risky environments. Here they are likely to require regular disaster relief and measures for poverty alleviation.

For further information:

“An environment for wellbeing: Pathways out of poverty”-learning from the Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation programme

Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) is a global interdisciplinary research programme that began in 2009 with the aim of giving decision-makers and natural resource users the evidence they need to address the challenges of sustainable ecosystem management and poverty reduction. The programme was developed by the UK government in response to the findings of the 2005 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment that substantial gains in human well-being in recent decades have been achieved at the expense of high and often irreversible levels of ecosystem degradation.

This short film highlights some of ESPA’s findings on the role of ecosystem services in diversifying livelihood options for vulnerable people, the contribution of sustainably managed ecosystem services to national wealth (and related poverty reduction), and insights into how to better manage ecosystems to deliver sustainable, green and inclusive growth. It features insights from ESPA Deltas and ECOLIMITS, looking at the ecological limits of poverty alleviation focusing on smallholder coffee farmers in Ethiopia, and cocoa farmers in Ghana.

New CARIAA brief on migration in climate change hotspots

Synthesising migration findings in India from three CARIAA projects

by Sumana Banerjee

With the Collaborative Adaptation Research In Africa and Asia (CARIAA) programme slowly heading towards to a completion, the thrust is now upon what we have learnt together as a research programme. In India, CARIAA has three consortia working in the different hotspots- deltas (DECCMA), mountains (Hi-AWARE) and semi-arid areas (ASSAR). Built into the programme design was the idea of the Country Table which gave a chance to the three consortia to provide a national perspective on different topics.

DECCMA, ASSAR and HI-AWARE teams at the India meeting

The India Country Table had met earlier for workshops and meetings during the life of CARIAA but the workshop on migration which was held at Kolkata on 19th January 2018 was different as it was the first time that the three consortia came together to share their findings on migration.  DECCMA-India​ (​Jadavpur University) ​hosted this one-day workshop on migration on the 19th January 2018 in Kolkata which was attended by researchers of ASSAR from Indian Institute of Human Settlements (IIHS) and Hi-AWARE from The Energy Resources Institute (TERI). Dr. K S Murali from IDRC was also present.

show more

Migration experts Prof S Chandrasekhar of Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research (IGIDR, India) ​and Dr Amina Maharjan of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD, Nepal)​ provided feedback on the findings.

For an effective Research into Use effort, the Indian Country Table decided to produce policy briefs on three topics – Hotspots (led by Hi-AWARE-TERI), Adaptation (led by ASSAR-IIHS) and Migration (led by DECCMA-JU) and then share these with relevant policy makers. While dissemination of findings is encouraged at this stage of the programme, we realised the need to use the one day workshop to gather a clearer understanding of where we stand vis-à-vis migration across the respective hotspots.

Synthesising findings across different disciplines, hotspots, and methodologies on a topic which was not envisaged to be researched upon on a same scale by all the three consortia was a challenge. Moving beyond one’s own research methodology and bringing together qualitative and quantitative findings required some discussion. The feedback and guidance from the experts helped us identify some themes which could guide us to tie the findings from the three consortia together.

The workshop was a success. How effective are workshops if they don’t make one “work”?! The team is now working on the India migration policy brief which should be available online by March 2018.

show less

“Climate change is triggering a migrant crisis in Vietnam” now published on The Conversation

by Alex Chapman, University of Southampton

DECCMA and ESPA Deltas researcher Dr Alex Chapman’s piece “Climate change is triggering a migrant crisis in Vietnam” has just been published on The Conversation UK. The article outlines how net out-migration of one million people from the delta – over double the national average – relates to a reduction in agricultural productivity and the effects of repeated exposure to cyclones that cause erosion of land and infrastructure.

Courtesy of The Conversation

Crucially, the article highlights that the creation of embankments, intended by the government to support in situ adaptation, actually often have the opposite effect. This is because in protecting the land, the embankments prevent “normal” flooding that replenishes soil nutrients and supports fishery-based livelihoods. Dr Chapman concludes by highlighting the importance of ensuring economic growth and adaptation supports all groups of the population to reduce a potential migrant crisis.

 

Gender and the Paris Agreement to the UNFCCC

By Katharine Vincent

Climate change does not affect men and women in the same way.  DECCMA recognises this and, through its research, aims to “deliver policy support to create the conditions for sustainable, gender-sensitive adaptation”.  How is DECCMA in line with the gender dimensions of climate change in international policy?

African Working Group on Gender and Climate Change side event at COP22 in Marrakech

The Paris Agreement is the latest legally-binding outcome under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – the global policy framework for addressing climate change.  The Paris Agreement has been in the spotlight again after the recent 23rd Meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC, hosted by Fiji and held in Bonn.

show more

Despite the existing UNFCCC commitments to gender, the Paris Agreement is, outside of the Preamble, largely gender-blind.  A set of recent papers, commissioned by the African Working Group on Gender and Climate Change with the support of IDRC, show that the term “gender” features only three times throughout the whole Paris Agreement: once in the Preamble; once in Article 7 (adaptation-focused); and once in Article 1 (capacity building-focused).  Neither the articles on mitigation nor technology transfer mention gender.

By not explicitly referencing gender there is a risk that Parties do not apply a gender-responsive approach in implementing the Agreement, and thus existing gender inequalities are reinforced.   Women typically have less control over land, lower education levels, more restricted mobility (due to their home-based roles), and poorer levels of participation in decision-making compared to men.  However gender differences are context-specific and unpacking them is essential to develop gender-responsive adaptation.

Within its household survey DECCMA has been investigating the different ways that men and women adapt to climate change in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna, Indian Bengal, Mahanadi and Volta deltas.  It is our intention to use this to support gender-responsive adaptation, as outlined in Article 7 of the Paris Agreement.  Gender-responsive adaptations are better targeted to the different needs of men and women, and thus more effective and efficient.  We are also gender-sensitive in our capacity building attempts, and thus consistent with Article 11 of the Paris Agreement.

For a detailed gender analysis of the Paris Agreement, see this background paper produced by the African Working Group on Gender and Climate Change (with support of IDRC), and an accompanying gender-responsive implementation framework.

show less