Environmental change and migration: methodological considerations from ground-breaking global survey


Journal Article


Warner, K.


Environmental change and migration: methodological considerations from ground-breaking global survey




Population & Environment

Vol (No), pp

33(1), 3-27


In recent years, policy makers and scientists have become interested in the dynamic links between migration and environmental change (Döös in Global Environ Change 7(1):41–61, 1997; Adger et al. in Living with Environmental Change: Social vulnerability, adaptation and resilience in Vietnam, 2001; Gunderson and Holling in Panarchy—understanding transformations in systems of humans and nature, Island Press, Washington, DC, Gunderson and Holling 2002; Scoones et al. in Dynamic systems and the challenge of sustainability, 2007; Galaz et al. in Ecosystems under pressure. A policy brief for the International Commission on Climate Change and Development, 2008). Recently, scoping activities have emerged to produce empirical observations about the role of environmental change in decisions about human mobility, including a range of movements from voluntary to forced migration and displacement. One notable recent attempt to contribute to the base of knowledge about the links between environmental change and migration has been the European Commission co-sponsored the Environmental Change and Forced Scenarios (EACH-FOR) project. The EACH-FOR project was created to assess the impact of environmental change on migration at the local, national, regional and international level. This paper shares the methods and fieldwork experiences of a first-time, multicontinent survey of environmental change and migration from the research project supported by the European Commission: Environmental Change and Forced Migration Scenarios (EACH-FOR, Contract Number 044468, http://www.each-for.eu). This paper has three purposes. First, the authors explore issues related to how EACH-FOR designed its methodological approach for the first global survey of environmental change and migration. The paper then describes how the project attempted to create a method that would produce comparable results in a challenging context of multiple scientific challenges and trade-offs for research design. The second purpose of this paper is to examine how field researchers implemented and used this methodology in the EACH-FOR project. This paper takes a closer look at the fieldwork approach applied in investigating the 23 EACH-FOR project case studies. These case studies presented diverse local conditions and social contexts and different types of environmental changes. The paper discusses some of the practical considerations and shortcomings of the method in practice and illustrates how local researchers from selected case studies managed the challenges of their complex assignment. The third purpose of this paper is to explore lessons learned from the initial fieldwork experience and fruitful directions for future research.


Warner, K. (2011). Environmental change and migration: methodological considerations from ground-breaking global survey. Population & Environment, 33(1), 3-27. URL : http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11111-011-0150-4