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PhD Defense

E-IPER Dissertation Defense: Erica Bower

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Event Details:

Please join us for an E-IPER dissertation defense by Erica Bower: "Planned Relocation of Communities in a Changing Climate: Assessing Risk, Livelihoods & Justice to Inform Governance"!

In-person: Y2E2 299

Virtual: Zoom webinar


Climate change intensifies floods, sea level rise, and other hazards, threatening people’s homes and livelihoods worldwide. Governments and communities are exploring strategies to adapt, including planned relocation – permanently moving entire communities to new sites out of harm's way. While planned relocation may reduce climate risks, it is often thought of as a "measure of last resort" as it can also lead to new challenges such as unemployment and loss of cultural heritage. Despite its complexity, planning for relocation is being seriously considered by communities and governments globally: from Fiji to Panama to the United States of America. Using comparative, interdisciplinary and mixed methods approaches, my research investigates the concept of planned relocation "success". Chapter 1 maps over 300 cases of planned relocation worldwide, characterizing where, when, why and how these moves have taken place to date. Using spatial analysis, Chapter 2 measures “success” as reduction of future exposure to sea level rise and explores the role of climate risk assessments in site selection. Leveraging qualitative comparative analysis, Chapter 3 examines “success” as changes in relocated people’s livelihoods and identifies the importance of community engagement, among other factors. Drawing on focus group interviews, Chapter 4 characterizes diverse stakeholders’ perspectives on contentious justice issues. Synthesizing these findings, Chapter 5 proposes a new framework for measuring planned relocation outcomes that encompasses risk reduction, livelihoods, and justice considerations. Through this work, I offer practical tools and insights for policy-makers and practitioners to help people relocate, or stay, with dignity in a changing climate.

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