Climate change will in coming decades lead to increased frequency and severity of floods, drought and extreme weather events. As the more exposed areas of the world become increasingly inhospitable, this will lead to substantial climate induced displacement of people in developing countries. For affected countries and communities, this creates challenges in accommodating the displaced and in avoiding social tension and conflicts that may arise.

This is the basic challenge motivating a new CMI project that has been granted funding from the Norglobal programme of the Research Council of Norway. The announcement of the Research Council notes that successful projects faced stiff competition from many high quality projects in this year’s Norglobal call.

The project is headed by Professor Päivi Lujala at NTNU and CMI. It will be delivered by an international, multi-disciplinary team with substantial expertise in climate and development research. From CMI, researchers Ivar Kolstad, Arne Wiig, and Sosina Bezu will take part. The project involves international partners at the University of South Carolina, the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), the Environment and Climate Research Center (ECRC) in Ethiopia, and a number of other institutions.

The project will assess and analyze how well countries and communities are able to cope with displacement caused by climate change. We will do so by creating global and national indexes to assess resettlement capacity. Crucially, resettlement capacity depends not only on physical and economic factors, but also on social and political conditions. These aspects will be integrated into our indices. Moreover, through a series of experiments in Bangladesh and Ethiopia, we will analyze how attitudes towards the displaced form and evolve, and whether and how they can be influenced to ease resettlement processes and avert tension.

The aim of the project is to improve the basis for effective policy making in addressing displacement at the local, national and international levels. Its objectives are very much in line with the UN global development agenda as expressed in the first two targets of Sustainable Development Goal 13, to “strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards ... in all countries” and to “integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning”.