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IHDP Update 1.2009


Magazine of the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change

March 2009 · Issue 1 ISSN 1727-155X


Social Challenges

of Global Change



Table of Contents

IHDP Update Issue 1, March 2009


3 The Social Challenges of Global Change

Oran R. Young, IHDP Scientific Commitee Chair


4 An Inclusive Meeting in a Unique Setting

by Andreas Rechkemmer, IHDP Executive Director

5 The Open Meeting - Background and Perspectives

Falk Schmidt and Shalini Kanwar

7 The IHDP Open Meeting 2009 in Numbers

8 Open Meeting Preliminary Programme

Reflections From Two Regional Global Change Research Networks

Sponsoring the OM 09

10 A Privileged Platform for Establishing Long-Term

Professional Relationships

Tetsuro Fujitsuka, Director, Asia-Pacific Network for Global

Change Research (APN)

11 The Challenge of Becoming Policy-Relevant

Holm Tiessen, Director, Inter American Institute for Global Change

Research (IAI) and Gerhard Breulmann, Assistant Director Science

Programs, IAI.

Selected Articles from Participants

13 Environmentally Induced Population Displacements

Susana B. Adamo

22 Identifying the Poor in Cities: How Can Remote Sensing

Help to Profile Slums in Fast Growing Cities and


Maik Netzband, Ellen Banzhaf, René Höfer, Katrin Hannemann

29 Environmental Inequality in São Paulo City: An Analysis

of the Differential Exposures of Socio-Demographic

Groups to Environmental Risk

Humberto Prates da Fonseca Alves

35 Characterising the Mis-Linkages in the Transition to

Sustainability in Asia

Xuemei Bai and Anna J. Wieczorek

The Open Meeting - a Platform to present the Synthesis Process

of GECHS and IT

42 Human Security in an Era of Global Change – The

GECHS Synthesis Process

Linda Sygna, Kirsten Ulsrud and Karen O’Brien

45 Moving Societies in a Sustainable Direction - Industrial

Transformation Synthesis Process

Anna J. Wieczorek and Frans Berkhout

New IHDP Projects and Initiatives – From Planning to Practice

47 Looking toward the Future - The Earth System Governance


Ruben Zondervan, Executive Officer, Earth System Governance



IHDP Update is published by the Secretariat of the International Human

Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change, United Nations

Campus, Hermann-Ehlers-Str. 10, D-53113 Bonn, Germany

The IHDP Update magazine features the activities of the International

Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change and its

research community.

ISSN 1727-155X

Editor-in-Chief: Andreas Rechkemmer (V.i.s.d.P.)

Executive Editor: Gabriela Litre

Copy Editor: Sarah Mekjian

Layout: Carolyn Louise Smith and Tande Chilenge

IHDP Update is published triannually. Sections of the Update

may be reproduced with acknowledgement to IHDP. Please send a copy of

any reproduced material to the IHDP Secretariat. This magazine is published

using funds by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and

the United States National Science Foundation.

The views and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent the

position of IHDP nor those of its sponsoring organizations.

Cover photo: Children playing on an overflown football ground in Sao Paulo/CARF


2 IHDP Update 1.2009


The Social Challenges

of Global


Oran R. Young, IHDP Scientific Commitee Chair

Human actions lie at the heart of every effort to come

to grips with global environmental change. Whether we are

interested in reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs),

sequestering carbon dioxide already in the Earth’s atmosphere,

or adapting to the impacts of climate change, we

must find ways to influence the actions of humans all the

way from the behaviour of the individual energy consumer

to collective choices about GHG emissions control policies.

Much the same applies to issues of land degradation and the

destruction of habitat vital to endangered species as well as

to the depletion of marine life arising from overfishing and

the spread of dead zones in the oceans. More often than not,

we know what human actions or combinations of actions

are implicated in these large-scale environmental problems.

In some cases, we even have a reasonably good grasp of the

driving forces that give rise to the human actions in question.

What does this imply for the development of research

strategies and the allocation of scarce resources available to

support global environmental change research? It goes without

saying that we need to improve our understanding of the

biophysical processes involved. A better understanding of

the likelihood and character of abrupt changes in the Earth’s

climate system, for example, would be immensely valuable.

Nevertheless, the top priority now must go to strengthening

our understanding of the sources of those human actions

that are relevant to global environmental change. What

would it take to alter current lifestyles in such a way as to

make major changes in the carbon footprints of individuals

IHDP Update 1.2009

Introduction • The Social Challenges of Global Change

Migrants from degraded agricultural land living in a slum in Mexico City. Photo: Mark Edwards / Still


and their families? Under what conditions might large numbers

of people find satisfaction in ways of life featuring sharp

reductions in the consumption of material goods?

There is a tendency to juxtapose two distinct

ways of addressing such questions. One approach – call it

the top-down perspective - focuses on revising the prevailing

rules of the game in societies so as to alter incentive

structures. The other view – call it the bottom-up perspective

- directs attention to the spread of social movements

that can alter values and shift discourses so as to produce

large changes in individual behaviour.

The top-down approach looks to policymaking at the

national and even the international level, focusing on efforts

to adjust institutional arrangements in ways that will affect

individual behaviour. Introducing limited entry arrangements

to protect fisheries and establishing cap-and-trade

mechanisms to control pollutants like sulphur dioxide emissions

are cases in point. Current debates about a variety of

policy instruments intended to make GHGs emitters pay for

the use of the Earth’s atmosphere as a repository for wastes

also constitute examples of such an approach. Those who

adopt this perspective look to the operation of the political

system as a critical locus for efforts to effect change. They are

apt to pay attention to the role of political leadership in domestic

legislative processes as well as in international level

institutional bargaining.

The bottom-up approach, by contrast, directs attention

to sources of behaviour that lie outside ordinary calculations

of benefits and costs. The emphasis here is on social


Introduction and Editoral • The Social Challenges of Global Change

movements and the processes through which large numbers

of individuals become engaged in collective efforts to fulfill

broad social goals for reasons that have little to do with calculations

of benefits and costs. Could we imagine the development

of a social movement in the 21st century focused on

the right to a benign climate on a scale similar to the antislavery

and suffrage movements of the 19th century or the

women’s rights, civil rights and animal rights movements of

the 20th century? As these examples suggest, social movements

often have more to do with restructuring ideas and

ideals than with shifting calculations about the benefits and

costs associated with different choices.

We often treat the top-down and bottom-up approaches

as divergent, possibly even conflicting ways to think

about coming to grips with big issues like global environmental

change. That need not be the case. More often than

not, real changes occur when social movements energise

policymaking and restructured policies guide behaviour. In

the United States, for example, the anti-slavery movement

led to the 13th amendment to the Constitution, the suffrage

movement resulted in the 19th amendment to the Constitution,

and the civil rights movement motivated efforts to pass

the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Much the same may hold true

for efforts to come to terms with large-scale environmental

problems like climate change. We can expect real change

when aroused publics demand action as a matter of priority

and effective leaders emerge to push through major policy

initiatives at both domestic and international levels.

What is needed from the scientific community is a

collaborative effort on the part analysts who come from a

variety of disciplines to improve our understanding of the

conditions governing the intersection of these top-down and

bottom-up processes. There is no better place to make progress

in meeting this challenge than at the triennial Open

Meetings of the worldwide research community interested

in the human dimensions of global environmental change.

So do plan to come to Bonn in April.


An Inclusive Meeting

in a Unique Setting

by Andreas Rechkemmer, IHDP Executive Director

Dear Readers,

This issue of UPDATE introduces the set-up, the programme

and the overarching goals for the 7th International Science

Conference on the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental

Change, also known as the IHDP Open Meeting 2009.

The 7th Open Meeting focuses on “Social Challenges

of Global Change”. In an era of unprecedented, rapid

and large-scale environmental, economic and demographic

changes, the International Scientific Planning Committee

wisely decided to envisage the set of threats, challenges and

opportunities that these changes pose to human society at

various levels.

While addressing social challenges we will endeavor

to highlight the findings generated in our core and joint research

projects and our new science initiatives, e.g. those

on Earth System Governance, Integrated Risk Governance,

Knowledge, Learning and Societal Changes, and Vulnerability,

Resilience, and Adaptation. Two of IHDP’s original

science projects, Industrial Transformation and Global Environmental

Change and Human Security, will launch their

synthesis processes at the Open Meeting and thus contribute

significantly to new and cutting edge findings in the realm of

sustainable development and global change research.

The Open Meeting will not only be the venue for the

communication and exchange of new and integrated knowledge

on the manifold social challenges of global change. It will as

well provide an excellent platform for collective learning, stakeholder

engagement, science-policy interaction and working meetings.

An impressive array of special sessions, on site workshops and

side events have registered for the conference. I should also mention

the large exhibition space that will allow for very lively interaction

across disciplinary and professional borders.

Finally, I should stress the importance of the location of the

Open Meeting 2009. The United Nations Campus and Bonn as a

city both stand for their active engagement for sustainable development,

both in terms of science and practice. Bonn hosts almost 20

UN agencies, among them the Secretariat of the UN Framework

Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Thus the political

and scientific relevance of the OM 2009 and its contribution to the

agenda of global environmental change research and policy for the

next years and decades is evident.

I am welcoming you all to Bonn in April and wish us all an

exciting and excellent Open Meeting 2009.

Yours sincerely,

Andreas Rechkemmer

IHDP Executive Director

4 IHDP Update 1.2009

The Open Meeting


and Perspectives

Falk Schmidt and Shalini Kanwar

Over the course of 14 years the Open Meetings have

established themselves as the major activity within the Human

Dimensions of Global Environmental Change community

to stimulate the exchange of information on research

from the global to the national level. Again this year, the

Open Meeting will take place as the 7th International Science

Conference on the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental

Change. And as before the meeting is set to be

a vehicle to integrate researchers into the community and

provide the unique networking opportunity for scholars

from a wide range of disciplines who are working in areas of

common substantive interest. The 7th Open Meeting 26-30

April 2009, Bonn, Germany, will be the first one under the

overall guidance of IHDP’s Strategic Plan 2007-2015 and will

showcase the wealth of research being done on the human

dimensions of global environmental change.

Under the overall theme “Social Challenges of Global

Change”, set by the International Scientific Planning Committee

for the Conference, participants will discuss the role

of human beings as actors in global environmental change.

IHDP Update 1.2009

The Open Meeting Background and Perspectives

Lexington Arboretum, Lexington, KY. Photo: Code Poet

By focusing on social challenges, the conference puts people

into the centre of analysis. Scholars from all over the world

have submitted abstracts for the four major conference

themes concerning demographic challenges, limitations of

resources and ecosystem services, establishing social cohesion

while increasing equity at various levels and adapting

institutions to address global change. Furthermore, important

issue areas such as transitions and technological innovations,

adaptation to climate change, human security, risk

governance, human health and urbanisation, among others,

will be highlighted during the conference, since these

themes have proven to be of particular interest to those participating

in and presenting at the event.

By addressing “global change” in its title, the 7th

Open Meeting widens the perspective toward other important

change phenomena that are either affected by or further

contribute to the challenges of global environmental change.

While resource and governance challenges represent very

well established research streams within IHDP – and indeed

most of the contributions were submitted for one of the two


The Open Meeting Background and Perspectives

themes –, the two calls have also generated brilliant submis-

sions to address demographic challenges and the hurdles re-

lated to equity and social cohesion. Particularly in relation

to the latter, and in conjunction with the issues surrounding

adaptation, a clear move toward the “development agenda”

is apparent. This new direction will enrich the human dimensions

research agenda and will shed a different light on

shared challenges.

The increased understanding of the challenges we

are currently facing has shifted the focus in yet another way,

from understanding the dynamics of global environmental

change to using that understanding to devise ways to meet

the challenges that we see emerge. This has pushed the scientific

community to pay more attention to the relationship

between science and policy, to include more use-inspired

and policy-relevant research, and to improve communication

with government, business, NGO’s and the civil society

at large. As a UN conference at the UN Campus in Bonn, the

IHDP Open Meeting 2009 will attract policy-makers and

other practitioners from various backgrounds to attend the

conference and to confront scientific research with societal

demands even more so than past meetings have. Each of the

identified social challenges is both paramount for future living

conditions of human beings and a good entry point to

demonstrate IHDP’s preparedness to contribute useful insights

from its research to address and solve the problems.

The first call for submissions for the Open Meeting

started in end of August 2007 and closed at the end of the

same year. A second call was open from August to October

2008. There was an overwhelming response to both calls and

altogether about 1,250 submissions were received. In addition,

this Open Meeting will witness both the synthesis and

Sponsors and Partners of the IHDP Open Meeting 2009

the launch of new IHDP core projects and will therefore demonstrate

the vital nature of human dimensions research.

Around 65 % of the submissions made for the IHDP

Open Meeting 2009 were accepted. About 40% of the total

submissions are from the developing and the least developed

countries and the maximum submissions came from Asia

and Europe. Of the total accepted submissions almost 50%

of the submitters were 40 years of age or younger, proving

that the human dimensions research community represents

a new generation of scientists and science.

About 120 sessions and more than 60 posters are being

planned. They include delegates from more than 380 universities

and research institutes from all over the world who

will come together to discuss the social challenges of global

change. Different session formats will be used (plenary, parallel,

poster, special sessions, and round tables) to explore

different options for presenting the insights addressed and

led by scientists from all existing disciplines.

We are very pleased that several donors have committed

funding to support this event, especially to support

the participation of scholars who would otherwise not have

had the chance to attend this meeting. IHDP is very grateful

for that and is fully convinced that the Open Meeting can

only perform its role as a milestone event taking place triennially

and develop its potential to stimulate excellent new

research, if participants from around the world are present

and contribute to the discussions about the Social Challenges

of Global Change.


Falk Schmidt, IHDP Academic Officer, Leader Open Meeting Task Force

Shalini Kanwar, Associate Programme Officer

6 IHDP Update 1.2009

Age Groups of


Based on accepted

submissions from the

first and second calls.

(excluding 13% who

did not provide their


IHDP Update 1.2009










39 19

Age 29 Over

and Age

younger 60

Developed and

Developing Countries


Based on accepted

submissions from the

first and second calls.


Development status


defined according


to UN sources.

57% (31 total)



Gender Ratio

of Participants

Based on the accepted

presentations from the

first and second calls,

excluding co-authors

Need for

Financial Support

Based on accepted

submissions from the

first and second calls.

Regional Distribution

of Participants

Based on the accepted

presentations from the

first and second calls,

excluding co-authors



and New







and South






No need

for support







Countries in











partial support



full support





The IHDP Open Meeting 2009 in Numbers


Open Meeting 2009

in Numbers

Some 1142 abstracts were submitted and reviewed for the

IHDP Open Meeting 2009. Those accepted will be presented orally

at one of the conferences numerous parallel sessions.

The body of presenters is dominated by scientists from

30 to 39 years of age, followed by scientists from 40 to 49 years

of age. This proves that the International Scientific Review

Committee has succeeded in selecting both the young and the

experienced, so as to best provoke global discourses on social

challenges of global environmental change following modern

scientific methodologies.

This year’s Open Meeting will provide an arena for scientists

from 53 countries to present their work. Of these scientists,

38 percent are female and a remarkable 43 percent come from

developing countries and countries in transition. A great number

of these researchers will receive stipends, partially securing

their participation costs.

The 7th Open Meeting’s presenters are affiliated with

more than 380 universities and institutions. Many of them are

among the world’s most respected institutions conducting and

supporting research on the social aspects of global environmental

change. The Research Institute for Humanity and Nature in

Japan, Arizona State University in the United States and Vrije

Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands will be among the

universities with the strongest representation. With extremely

geographically and professionally varied backgrounds, the mix

of researchers presenting at the IHDP Open Meeting 2009 will

undoubtedly assure a motivating and rewarding dialogue.

Text by Barbara Solich / IHDP Communications Associate

Graphs prepared by Tande Chilenge / IHDP


IHDP Open Meeting 2009 Programme

Open Meeting Preliminary Programme 5 March 2009

April 27

Grand Opening & Demographic Challenges

8:30 - Registration

9:00 - Opening Ceremony

Prof Frieder Meyer-


State Secretary BMBF

Prof Liu Yanhua

Vice-Minister for Science &

Technology, China

Prof Hebe Vessuri

Chair of Council UNU

10:30 - Refreshment Break

Prof Wolfgang Hermann

Technical University of Munich


Prof Hans Joachim


PIK Director

11:00 - Plenary Session - Social Challenges

& Demographics

Prof Xizhe Peng

Fudan University, Institute Director

Dr Gernot Erler

Minister of State at the Federal

Foreign Office

Prof. Marcus Feldman


Stanford University

12:30 - Lunch

14:00 - Parallel Sessions

15:30 - Refreshment Break

16:00 - Parallel Sessions

17:30 - Break

18:00 - Roundtables

Science for the 21st


Flavia Pansieri

Executive Coordinator UNV

Prof. Wolfgang Lutz

Leader, World Population Program,


Poster Session

April 28

Resources & Technological Innovation

8:30 - Registration

9:00 - Plenary Session - Resources &

Technological Innovation

Prof Anthony Giddens

London School of Economics

Prof Ernst von Weizsäcker

IHDP Scientific Committee


10:30 - Refreshment Break

11:00 - Special Sessions

Vulnerability, Resilience

and Adaptation


Global Change and Human

Health: Preparedness

and Surveillance


Group and IGU Commission on

Health and the Environment.

12:30 - Lunch

14:00 - Parallel Sessions

15:30 - Refreshment Break

16:00 - Parallel Sessions

17:30 - Break

18:00 - Roundtables

Technological Innovation

Media Roundtable “Catastrophe


Global Change and Human

Health: The Role of E-Health and


Integrative Approaches in Global

Change Research – The Experience

with Different Integration


The new IHDP research projects

and initiatives, ESG, IRG, KLSC

Michael Mueller

Parliamentary State Secretary


Prof Ortwin Renn, Director

of DIALOGIK and Christopher


Secratary General IRGC

Industrial Transformations


Industrial Transformation Project


Risk Governance Under

Global Change

IRG Pilot Project, IHDP Chinese

National Committee (CNC-




8 IHDP Update 1.2009

April 29

Social Equity, Cohesion & Sustainable Adaptation

8:30 - Registration

9:00 - Plenary Session - Social Equity, Cohesion

& Sustainable Adaptation

Robin Mearns

World Bank, Team Leader

Social Dimensions of Global


High Level Representative

from Small Island


10:30 - Refreshment Break

11:00 - Special Sessions

Pro-Poor Climate

Change Adaptation:

Engaging Local Institutions

and Local Voices

across Different Scales

World Bank

Human Security in the

21st Century

Global Environmental Change

and Human Security Project


12:30 - Lunch

14:00 - Parallel Sessions

15:30 - Refreshment Break

16:00 - Parallel Sessions

17:30 - Break

18:00 - Roundtables

Global Equity, Local


Adaptive Governance:

The Case of Small Island


IHDP Update 1.2009

Marina Silva (TBC)

Senator and former Environment

Minister, Brazil

Dr Walter Ammann

President, Global Risk Forum

(GRF) Davos

Dr Poul Engberg-Pedersen


Director General Norad

Sustainable Water Management

- the key for



Synthesizing Knowledge

of the Natural, Social

Sciences and Humanities

Research Institute for Humanity

and Nature (RIHN)

Poster Session

IHDP Open Meeting 2009 Programme

April 30

Adaptive Institutions & Governance

8:30 - Registration

9:00 - Plenary Session - Adaptive Institutions

& Governance

Dr Kirit Parikh

Chairman, Integrated Research

& Action for Development,


Prof Michael Zürn

Dean, Hertie School of Governance

Dr Laurence Tubiana

Director of IDDRI

10:30 - Refreshment Break

11:00 - Special Sessions

The Contribution of Social

Sciences to Climate

Change Research


12:30 - Lunch

14:00 - Parallel Sessions

15:30 - Refreshment Break

16:00 - Parallel Sessions

17:30 - Break

18:00 - Closing Ceremony

Speakers to be announced shortly

Prof Jan Pronk

Institute of Social Studies, The


Mark Fulton

Managing Director, Global

Head of Climate change Investment

Research, Deutsche


Prof Oran Young

Chair of Scientific Committee


Financing Adaptation

to Climate Change:

What’s the Role for Europe?



Reflections From Two Regional Global Change Research Networks Sponsoring the OM 09

A Privileged Platform

for Establishing

Long-Term Professional


Tetsuro Fujitsuka, Director, Asia-Pacific Network for Global Change

Research (APN)

The Asia-Pacific Network for Global Change Research

(APN) is proud to be a sponsor of the 7th International Sci-

ence Conference on Human Dimensions of Global Environ-

mental Change (GEC): the International Human Dimen-

sions Programme (IHDP) Open Meeting (OM) to be held on

26-30 April 2009 in Bonn, Germany.

One of the major goals of the APN is to improve the

scientific technical capabilities of nations in the region and

by supporting the IHDP OM 2009, the APN is making another

step forward towards achieving its goal. The APN believes

that by providing a platform where scholars, including

early career and developing-country researchers/scientists

can exchange information, the networking opportunities

are also strengthened leading to long-tem professional relationship

which will be of great benefit for the region in terms

of scientific excellence.

As APN supports activities that generate and transfer

knowledge in the physical and human dimensions of global

change in five main themes under its Science Agenda, it is

worth noting that the OM is structured to stimulate the exchange

of information on a transnational and regional basis

on the human dimensions of GEC. The APN recognises the

relevance of bringing together leading social and natural scientists,

practitioners, policy-makers and stakeholders from

various fields and geographical locations, particularly in

the Asia-Pacific (AP) region whose work are interconnected

with the human dimensions of GEC.

Another area of mutual interest between the APN

and IHDP OM is the capacity building/enhancement component.

When the APN Scientific Capacity Building and

Enhancement for Sustainable Development in Developing

Countries (CAPaBLE) Programme was launched in April

2003, the following were identified as major activities of

Fisherman in Bali, Indonesia. Photo: Jon Rawlinson

interest: scientific capacity development for sustainable

development; science-policy interfacing, awareness raising

and dissemination activities. Under CAPaBLE, young, early

career scientists are provided with opportunities to develop

their knowledge and capabilities in GEC research through

the enhanced sharing of knowledge, experience and scientific

information. With the regional scope of the OM inviting

all countries in the AP region, the APN believes that it

will pose strong scientific and political relevance for all the

APN member countries and the whole AP region at large,

enabling participation of younger and developing country


The OM will include around 650 papers and poster

presentations. With the OM’s established scientific framework,

the APN is eager to learn how the questions posing

profound challenges in the area of GEC will be answered

during the course of the meeting. The APN also considers

the significance of raising the four main questions under

the ‘social challenge’ of the scientific framework. These four

questions [1) How do we deal with demographic challenges?

2) How do we deal with limitations of resources and ecosystem

services? 3) How do we establish social cohesion while

increasing equity at various levels? 4) How do we adapt institutions

to address global change?] will be addressed in the

OM with a wider perspective, looking both on the current

and future trends to ensure sustainable development.

Fully supportive of the OM, the APN trusts that the

activity will extend beyond showcasing IHDP’s contributions

to the international processes but also highlight sciencepolicy

dialogues through parallel sessions and side events at

a significant level and provide a forum for the exchange of

latest/emerging scientific research and trends in the global

change community.

10 IHDP Update 1.2009

The Challenge

of Becoming


Holm Tiessen, Director, Inter American Institute for

Global Change Research (IAI) and Gerhard Breulmann,

Assistant Director Science Programs, IAI.

Open meetings: hundreds of participants from around

the world, a tight agenda, parallel sessions, large poster ses-

sions, 6:00am working breakfasts, lunch and dinner meet-

ings, long talks with old colleagues, abounding opportuni-

ties to meet new ones and a tremendous challenge to make

the best of it all. In times of easy long distance communication

and concerns about the carbon footprint of travel, are

open large meetings still appropriate?

Yes, it helps to put a face to an idea, develop personal

contacts and understanding and build collaboration on "experienced"

mutual interests. But no, there must be a better

way. Commonly key people are too busy with side meetings

to provide sound guidance to larger fora. Younger participants

who would benefit most from interactions but are not

part of networks often lose out. Sometimes this can be addressed

by having workshop and training activities back-toback

with such events, allowing for interaction with at least

some of the key players.

One of the key challenges for global environmental

change (GEC) science is that of becoming more policy relevant

and assisting governments, non-governmental bodies

and civil society organisations with the identification,

assessment and implementation of solutions. Solutions are

rarely discipline-bound, they are task oriented.

Increasing interdisciplinarity strains the open meeting

model even more. Perhaps it is time to integrate such

task orientation as a part of the meeting’s planning process.

IHDP Update 1.2009

Reflections From Two Regional Global Change Research Networks Sponsoring the OM 09

International Conference. Photo: Mr. Topf

Models for successful output-oriented meetings distribute

themes, tasks and even contributions well in advance, often

for mutual peer-review. The time spent together is thus

spent more productively and gives opportunities to develop

the unexpected next development and explore ideas in interactive

activities, rather than in show-and-tell settings.

Solutions are rarely discipline-bound, they

are task oriented.

The IAI has sponsored the participation of young scientists

to open meetings in the past. Rather than just funding

IAI regional participation, starting with the 2006 ESSP

OM in Beijing, the institute is aiming further with its funding

support. This time we will combine our sponsorship with

a commitment to a focused session on linking GEC science

to governance, asking participants not only to present their

science but to take the next step and provide critical impluses

for future directions, strategies and activities. What

can IHDP and IAI (and others) do to link science and governance?

Are there existing projects and programmes that

could join forces and ideas? Big ideas linking natural science,

social science and decision making must take small steps to

learn how to satisfy societies' increasing demand to provide

a return on GEC science investments in tangible ways.


Social Page-header Challenges of Global Change - Selected Articles from Participants

Selected Articles

from Participants

Antalya City. Photo: Melissa Maples

The IHDP Communications Team went through the

paper proposals accepted for the IHDP Open Meeting 2009

and invited four of the authors who recieved the highest

scores to provide a sneek preview to their articles with the

UPDATE magazine. The authors, scientists from Asia, Europe,

and the Americas, also explained why they decided to

participate in the IHDP Open Meeting 2009 and what they

expect of the conference. The four all agreed on the same

point: attending the IHDP Open Meeting 2009 is not a goal

in itself, but represents a new step towards the creation of

policy relevant, cutting-edge and borderless science prepared

to address the challenges of a rapidly changing world.

12 IHDP Update 1.2009

Photos: Damien du Toit

Environmentally Induced

Population Displacements

Susana B. Adamo

This article examines population displacements related to

environmental events, addressing conceptual, methodological

and security and policy issues. It also explores potential

future population displacements as a result of climate


Keywords: population mobility; migration; environment; cli-

mate change

Environmentally induced population displacement

is a hot topic. Concerns about the consequences of climate

change for human populations, the recognition that migration

may be one of the most viable adaptation strategies, and

the view that such population movements would present security

challenges fuel this increasing interest, which has materialised

in a number of recent conferences (IoM & uNFPA

2008; uNu-Ehs, IoM & uNEP 2008; EFMsV 2008; PErN 2008;

rsC & IMI 2009).

Still, the debate on what constitutes an environmentally

induced move continues, and the general agreement

that environmental factors contribute to population mobility

translates into a modest consensus about the mecha-

IHDP Update 1.2009

Environmentally Induced Population Displacements

nisms, character and extent of that contribution (IoM 1992;

suhrkE 1993; LIttLE 1994; uNhCr/IoM 1996; rIChMoNd

1995; hugo 1996; swAIN 1996; LoNErgAN 1998; wood 2001;

BLACk 2001; CAstLEs 2002; BILsBorrow 2002; uNruh, kroL

& kIot 2004; huNtEr 2005, 2007; IoM 2007; rENAud Et AL.

2007; kNIVEtoN Et AL. 2008A; wArNEr Et AL. 2008; AdAMo


There has been progress, however,. The International

Organisation for Migration has proposed a new working definition

of environmental migrants, which identifies trigger

events, types of movement and also hints at the mechanisms

linking environmental change and population mobility.

To capture the several possible combinations, particularly

for policymaking and development planning, the

IOM (2007) has also suggested different scenarios (tABLE 1).


Environmentally Induced Population Displacements

1. The propensity to

migrate in relation to

environmental change

A. Migration at less advanced

stages of gradual

environmental change

B. Migration at advanced

stages of gradual environmental


2. The impact of migration

on the environment

E. Migration’s impact on

the environment in areas

of destination

F. Migration’s impact on

the environment in areas

of origin

C. Migration due to

extreme environmental


D. Migration due to largescale

development and

land conservation

Table 1: IOM’s Migration-Environment Scenarios. Source: IOM 2007

3. Interactions between

migration, environmental

change, human

security and conflict

G. Human security challenges

of environmental

change and migration

H. Conflict potential of

environmental change

and migration

Of interest here are columns 1 and 3. Column 1 highlights

the heterogeneity of trigger events in terms of intensity, predictability,

and scale or magnitude, which results in critical

differences in terms of people displaced, area affected and

duration of the event (IoM/rPg 1992; IoM/uNhCr 1996; LoN-

ErgAN 1998; wood 2001; BAtEs 2002; BIErMANN & BoAs

2007; rENAud Et AL. 2007). Column 3 characterises the interactions

of environmentally induced displacement with

human security and conflict, topics that have also been on

the rise.

The movements

Depending on the intensity of the hazard, the vulnerability

of the exposed population, and the availability of assistance,

environmentally induced mobility may be arranged

in a continuum ranging from forced to compelled to voluntary

(hugo 1996; rENAud Et AL. 2007; BAtEs 2002). Overall,

a certain amount of coercion is implicit in the fact that push

factors in the origin area are more important than pull factors

in destinations (suhrkE 1993; hugo 1996; rIChMoNd

1995; stILEs 1997; BAtEs 2002). Frequently, environmental

‘push’ factors are intertwined with economic issues, but they

may also be linked to concerns about the deterioration of local

environmental conditions and of quality of life in general

(IzAzoLA, MArtíNEz & MArquEttE 1998; huNtEr 2005).

By far, most of the environmentally induced mobility

has been internal and short-term (hugo 1996; MyErs 2002;

hugo 2006; MAssEy, AxINN & ghIMIrE 2007). Some evidence

shows that the spatial distribution of pre-existing migrant

networks and other forms of social capital are relevant to estimate

the probability of local or long-distance moves as well

Migrant-like situa-


greater control over

the process and less

vulnerability, even if

people are moving in

response to deteriorating


Environmentally driven


compelled but voluntary;

more control over timing and

direction and less vulnerability

than refugees; but

less control and more vulnerability

than migrants.



very low level of

control over the

whole process and

very high degree

of vulnerability

Figure 1: The continuum of environmentally induced population displacements

Source: Based on Hugo 1996; Bates 2002 ; Renaud et al. 2007

as the probability of return (hugo 1996; MCLEMAN & sMIt

2006). In the case of natural disasters, the most common and

fastest response is evacuation (huNtEr 2005, P.283), generally

occurring over a short distance and only temporary in

duration, although some evacuees may choose to relocate, as

happened with evacuees from New Orleans following Hurricane

Katrina. In the aftermath, an option is the permanent

relocation of entire communities to less dangerous places.

In developing regions, permanent environmentally induced

displacement tends to occur in a less organised way, and is

usually local, consisting of simply moving to less dangerous

places nearby, for example, to higher ground if available

(huNtEr 2005). However, local, spontaneous relocation may

not be possible if the surrounding area is densely populated

or if land owners refuse to allow resettlement (AdAMo & dE

shErBININ ForthCoMINg).

The movers

Environmentally induced flows may differ from ‘normal’

flows. Research on migration and drought in the Sahel

found a diversification of migration patterns during drought

periods. Although the flows did not intensify, their composition

changed, including a higher number of women and

children likely to reduce household consumption. Shifts to

circular and short-cycle labour migration as well as changes

in destinations and in the number of moves were also verified.

Remittances from long-term migrants were still essential

to their families, but households also put more workers

in the local labour market, which included the temporary

migration of young male members to increase income and

14 IHDP Update 1.2009

educe consumption (FINdLEy 1994; hENry, sChou-

MAkEr ANd BEAuChEMIN 2004; BrowN 2007).

Selectivity by socioeconomic status of individ-

uals and households, a key determinant of the degree

of vulnerability, has been also registered. Research in

Nepal (MAssEy, AxINN & ghIMIrE. 2007) found that

local environmental deterioration was associated with

short-distance movements of males and females, but

that this only applied to lower castes and that the effect

on long-distance moves was weaker . In the Sahel,

good or bad harvests, an indicator of wealth, determine

household choice of long or short-distance

moves of workers (BrowN 2007). Studies in the US

found that lower socioeconomic status was linked to

a higher probability of relocation after a hazard event

(huNtEr 2005), suggesting that better-off households

had more resources to afford rebuilding, had insurance,

or suffered less damage because of their ability to

meet the expense of mitigation measures. Yet, Izazola,

Martínez & Marquette (1998, P.114) found that middle

and upper-class households in Mexico City were more

likely to leave the city because of air quality concerns.

Data issues

In general, data on environmentally induced

migration are scarce, and ‘creative’ calculation methods

for the magnitude of past, current and future environmentally

induced displacement are generally controversial

(LoNErgAN 1998; BLACk 2001; CAstLEs 2002, P.2; BIErMAN

& BoAs 2007, P.9; BLACk Et AL. 2008). This lack of adequate

data, particularly in terms of time series of environment and

demographic variables, is still a constraint for methodological

innovation, and conclusive results are still absent (PErCh-

NILsEN 2004; kNIVEtoN Et AL. 2008B).

Some authors have suggested the use of population

censuses (LE BLANC 2008, P.42; sEE ALso PostINgs to

PErN 2008), relying on base-area information and focusing

on flows of migrants from areas of environmental change

and degradation. While it could be enough for a number of

policy needs, this could not be adequate for understanding

how and why environmental change can trigger population


IHDP Update 1.2009

Environmentally Induced Population Displacements

Internally displaced refugees outside of Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo.

Photo: Endre Vestvik

The linking mechanisms

A more precise measurement and potential forecasting

of environmentally induced displacement would require

a better understanding of the mechanisms linking environmental

stressors and demographic behaviour. The identification

of these mechanisms entails considering different

factors and levels of determination, as well as temporal and

spatial scales.

A critical understanding is that (a) multiple factors influence

migration decisions, (b) environmental factors rarely

act alone and they cannot be easily disentangled from the

rest of the factors and processes leading to migration; and

(c) cause-effect relationships are hard to quantify and tied to

the rest of these factors (LoNErgAN 1998, PP. 10; wood 2001,

P.44; MEyErsoN, MErINo ANd durANd 2007; kNIVEtoN Et

AL., 2008A, P. 37). It is also important to remember that, except

in cases of sudden environmental disasters, mobility is

just one among several possible responses and adaptations

to environmental change (BILsBorrow 1992; BLACk 2001;

tACoLI 2007; AdgEr Et AL. 2007, P.736).


Environmentally Induced Population Displacements

Patterns of vulnerability and their determinants, for

example, individual demographic characteristics and house-

hold livelihood composition (BLAIkIE Et AL. 1994; kAsPEr-

soN Et AL. 1995; MACíAs 1992; CArdoNA 2001; dE shEr-

BININ, sChILLEr & PuLsIPhEr 2007; AdgEr Et AL. 2007),

are key factors for understanding population mobility as

a response to environmental risks, or the absence thereof.

People’s subjective view and perception of the hazard and of

their own vulnerability, based on past personal experience

as well as present and past individual, household and community

characteristics and the socio-economic, political

and historical context in which they are embedded, are also

relevant factors (IzAzoLA 1997; huNtEr 2005; hEAthCotE

1980; dAy 1995; hogAN 1995; MEzE-hAuskEN 2000, 2008).

Finally, population mobility as a response to environmental

impacts is embedded in socio-economic, cultural

and institutional contexts, and influenced by the historical

local development of the interactions between a population

and its environment (BLAIkIE & BrookFIELd 1987; LIttLE

1994; sChMINk 1994; gutMANN Et AL. 1996). Consequently,

it is spatially differentiated, as environmental hazards, population

exposure and vulnerabilities and risks, including security

risks, are not uniformly distributed across the globe.

Levels of development, living conditions, livelihoods, institutional

capacities and the strength of States can be quite diverse,

and regional diversity is the rule in migration patterns

and systems. This uneven distribution would require regional,

national and sub-national approaches to understanding

and addressing environmentally-induced displacements.

Agent-based models (ABMs) appear well-suited to

modeling the links between environmental change and migration

(ENtwIsLE Et AL. 2008; kNIVEtoN Et AL. 2008A) by

simulating responses from individuals, households or communities

to environmental events. These models are based

on the assumption that the results of individual actions may

differ from the sum of their parts in a system characterised

by interacting agents or autonomous decision-making entities,

emergent properties arising from agents’ interactions

with each other and a set of rules that govern these interactions

that take into account people’s perceptions and experiences

(kNIVEtoN Et AL. 2008A, P.47).

Methodological developments in migration research

can also be applied to the study of environmental displacement,

including multilevel models (BILsBorrow Et AL.

1987; zhu 1998; EzrA 2001); even history analysis techniques

(MuLdEr 1993; LIANg & whItE 1996; PArrAdo & CErruttI

2003); the combination of both techniques (EzrA & kIros

2001; hENry, sChouMAkEr & BEAuChENtIN 2004; kuLu &

BILLArI 2004); and the use of network analysis (korINEk Et

AL. 2005). Statistical analysis can be combined with Geographic

Information System techniques to determine spatial

patterns of environmental change impacts and migration,

also integrating data from a variety of sources (kNIVEtoN

Et AL. 2008A; ALso sEE MCgrANAhAN, BALk & ANdErsoN


Potential effects of climate change

The IPCC’s First Assessment Report warned that the

greatest effect of climate change on society could be human

migration, i.e. involuntary forms of displacement and relocation

(osCE 2005). This seems to point to population mobility

as a less desirable form of adapting to climate change- a last

resort coping strategy when other adaptation possibilities

are unavailable or have failed. Later, it was recognised that

there are situations in which population mobility constitutes

a powerful adaptive strategy. The IPCC’s Fourth Assessment

Report stressed the significance of established migrant networks

and patterns as part of the inventory of the adaptation

practices, options and capacities available to face climate

change impacts (AdgEr Et AL. 2007, P.736).

The effects of climate change are likely to present

regional variations in their potential to trigger population

displacements depending on the place and time of the impact,

the affected population’s degree of vulnerability, and

the availability of alternative responses. In terms of international

displacements, the percentage of the population

affected may be a better predictor than the absolute numbers.

The reasoning is that the higher the percentage affected,

the more likely the national coping capacities will be

overwhelmed. Some combination of relocation in advance

of events and short-term displacements in the aftermath is

likely (AdAMo & dE shErBININ ForthCoMINg).

Socioeconomic status may become an important

predictor since population mobility as response requires

resources. Overall, in situ adaptation may be more likely in

developed regions while displacement may be more likely in

developing areas. However, it could be the case that a household

or individual is too poor to “invest” in migration, being

obligated to stay put and hope that the situation to improves.

The poorest populations, often living in the most vulnerable

locations (BLAIkIE Et AL. 1994), are likely to be those with

the fewest resources to permanently relocate. On the other

hand, relatively better off land owners are those with greater

incentives to remain on their land, so it is not easy to predict

who will move (AdAMo & dE shErBININ ForthCoMINg).

16 IHDP Update 1.2009

Sea-level rise appears to be the impact most certain

result in displacement and resettlement (hugo 1996; BLACk

2001; MCgrANAhAN, BALk & ANdErsoN 2007; dE shErBININ,

sChILLEr & PuLsIPhEr 2007) as a relatively gradual, slow on-

set event leading to relocation to higher ground nearby if

land resources are available. Coastal areas and Small Island

States (SIS) are particularly threatened by sea-level rise and

extreme weather events (BIjLsMA 1996; hugo 2006; NursE,

MCLEAN & suArEz 1997). Migration may be the only adaptive

response, particularly if sea-levels rise faster than predicted.

In the case of SIS in particular, relocation and resettlement

policies have been discussed (AdgEr Et AL. 2007). However,

the need for avoiding simplistic assumptions remains (MortrEux

& BArNEtt 2008).

Coastal flooding from storm surges and excess precipitation,

by contrast, is generally a less predictable and

sudden onset event. Extreme weather events are likely to

trigger local sudden and massive displacements from affected

areas. The key factors here are the predictability of

the event and the government and civil capacity to face it.

This type of movement will probably occur over short distances

and be temporary in nature (AdAMo & dE shErBININ


Seeking for dringing water in Rajasthan, India. Photo: Marcus Fornell

IHDP Update 1.2009

Environmentally Induced Population Displacements

Climate change impacts on freshwater resources

such as droughts, water scarcity and glacial melting are typically

slow onset events. Worsening dry conditions in semiarid

and sub-humid areas may render such areas unfit for

rain-fed agriculture and led to their abandonment unless

irrigation infrastructure is available. Population numbers

and densities in these regions, however, are already low, and

numbers of the displaced would thus be low. Environmental

changes related to large-scale adaptation works such as

water transfer schemes and flood defenses could be another

source of population displacement (AdAMo & dE shErBI-

NIN ForthCoMINg). Migration as an adaptive response to

declining freshwater resources is likely to rest on already

established patterns of population mobility (hugo 1996;

AdAMo 2003), and labour related circular migration of some

household members, generally young adults, may be expected

(BrowN 2007). Depending on the severity of the impact,

however, these long-time adaptations may not be enough

(tACoLI 2007) and more permanent migrations would then

be possible.

The determination of the magnitude of climate

change-related displacement is a contentious matter (sEE

BIErMAN & BoAs 2007 ANd CAstLEs 2002 For A dEtAILEd

dIsCussIoN) and available estimates show a large diversity

of possibilities, as illustrated in Box 1. Environmental impacts

have been calculated from climate change projections

assuming a linear and causal relationship between the environmental

event and population displacement and location

specific socio-economic responses have been generalised.

General numbers tend to reflect populations at risk “a long

way from predicting mass flight of a ‘refugee’ nature” (BLACk

2001, P.9).

Security concerns

Potential climate change-related displacement has

triggered different security concerns, which IOM (2007)

groups into two scenarios:

Scenario (G) relates to concerns about human security

challenges, including the security of individuals, households

and communities, and about their coping and adaptation

capabilities (BogArdI 2004; rENAud Et AL. 2007; IoM

2007). The more sudden, involuntary or forced the displacement,

the more likely it is to disrupt livelihoods and to deteriorate

quality of life, in many cases leading to the further

impoverishment of already vulnerable people (VINE 2005).

This approach to human security rests on human agency,

rights and sustainable livelihoods as means to face vulner-


Environmentally Induced Population Displacements

ability (BohLE 2007; wArNEr Et AL. 2008). It favors the con-

cept of adaptation in- situ, including risk management and

vulnerability reduction through poverty reduction and good

governance (IuCN Et AL. 2004). The aim is to increase the

resilience of households, communities, and nations, thereby

reducing vulnerability, livelihood disruption, involuntary

displacements, and relocation.

Scenario (H) relates to concerns about the conflict potential

of environmentally induced displacements. Climate

change, environmental degradation, and growing resource

scarcity have been identified as triggers or concomitant factors

in the emergence or aggravation of conflict situations,

although the evidence also shows that these are usually nonviolent

(CAstLEs 2002, P.6; stErN 2006; gLEdItsCh Et AL.

2007; woodrow wILsoN CENtEr ENVIroNMENtAL ChANgE

ANd sECurIty ProgrAM). These situations pose potential

threats to global and national security, and could eventually

increase in the presence of climate change. Scenarios

describing massive environmentally induced displacements

often accompany these scenarios, capturing some of the issues

found in the literature on environmental refugees (I.E.

MyErs 2001, 2002; rEuVENy 2005; CAstLEs 2002; wBgu

2007; CAMPBELL Et AL. 2007; urdAL 2005).

Policy issues

Policy issues related to environmentally induced

displacement include their implications for the origin and

receiving communities as well as the consequences for the

displaced population, particularly in the cases of sudden

displacement and displacements located toward the ‘forced’

end of the involuntary/voluntary continuum (oLIVEr-sMIth


The IOM (2007, P.5) has suggested tailoring policy interventions

to the stage of environmental degradation, for

example, by facilitating migration in the early stages of the

deterioration process, and mitigating forced displacement at

irreversible stages or anticipating the problem by promoting

sustainable development. This tailoring would, of course,

imply a clear understanding of the nexus between environmental

change and population mobility, which in turn

requires a “redirection of research toward clarifying conceptual

approaches and answering basic questions” (oLIVErsMIth

2008, P.102).

Finally, although studies have shown that environmental

displacements take place mostly within national

boundaries and are consequently a national matter, the

crossing of international boundaries would need to be an-

Selected estimates of environmentally-displaced

population due to climate

change impacts

• People at risk of sea-level rise by 2050: 162

million (Myers 2002).

• People at risk of droughts and other climate

change events by 2050: 50 million (Myers


• People potentially at-risk of being displaced

because of desertification: 135 million (Almería

Statement 1994)

• Number of people who have fled because

of floods, famine and other environmental

disasters: approximately 24 million (UNHCR


• Environmentally displaced people by 2010:

50 million (UNFCCC 2007).

• Refugees due to by climate change by 2050:

250 millions (Christian Aid cited in Bierman

and Boas 2007).

• People estimated to become permanently

displaced “climate refugees” by 2050: 200

millions (Stern 2006).

ticipated for both the nations most likely to be affected such

as for Small Island States as well as for the less likely nations,

since such displacement with require international cooperation

(hugo 1996; BrowN 2007).

Final remarks

This brief article should be concluded with a note of

caution and a call to action, restating some of the conclusions

of PERN 2008 seminar (AdAMo 2008B). The attribution

of population displacement to environmental stressors is a

delicate task, as many and very diverse scientific disciplines

are involved. Agreement in this field seems to be limited to

the acknowledgement that a relationship exits. The topic

of environmentally induced displacement still requires the

careful weighing of theory, data and methods in the determination

and evaluation of magnitudes, flows, selectivity

and even naming terms. Ideally, the understanding of how

populations respond to climate-based uncertainty and di-

18 IHDP Update 1.2009

Susana Adamo on

participating in

the IHDP Open

Meeting 2009

“After waiting for it since the end of the 6th

Open Meeting, I finally learnt about the IHDP

Open Meeting 2009 sometime during 2007,

through a combination of checking IHDP website,

PERN announcement, emailing to the

organizers and comments from colleagues. I

had decided to participate long before knowing

the date and venue, because I am convinced

that the Open Meetings are the very few (if

not the only) true interdisciplinary forums for

population-environment issues, combining science

and policy, and gathering the most diverse


For different reasons, I had not been able of

participating in previous Open Meetings; this

will be my first one, and I am certainly looking

forward to being in Bonn in April. My expectations

for the Open meeting include to receive

constructive comments about my papers; to

meet and interchange experiences with colleagues

working in similar topics, as well as

with colleagues working on other aspects of the

field; and to participate as much as possible of

all the activities planned for the Conference”.

saster would be part of talks about ways to avoid exposure to

or mitigate the effects of catastrophic events.

At the same time, the mounting policy issues and human

security concerns that emerge from accelerated global

climate change demand attention. Interdisciplinary research

and communication between researchers and policymakers

must be enhanced. Scenarios of adaptive capacity and

its multiple factors must consider both flows of movers and

groups of stayers, lending greater attention to those contextual

factors, including level and style of development, which

could be most affected by climate change events.


Susana B. Adamo, Center for International Earth Science Information Network

(CIESIN), Columbia University

IHDP Update 1.2009


phone: 1-845-365-8966

fax: 1-845-365-8922

61 Route 9W

Palisades, NY 10964, USA

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Indentifying the Poor in Cities

Identifying the Poor in

Cities: How Can Remote

Sensing Help to Profile

Slums in Fast Growing

Cities and Megacities?

Maik Netzband, Ellen Banzhaf, René Höfer, Katrin Hannemann

Using Geospatial Technology to identify vulnerable

groups and their physical environment could enhance

the search for equity in megacities.

Key words: Informal settlements, slums, marginal areas, remote

sensing, GIS, vulnerability, urban pattern, urban structure

types (UST), Normalised Difference Vegetation Index

(NDVI), megacities

Identifying Spatial Patterns of Urban Poverty

Attempts to address the question of whether the

worldwide urbanisation process is dealing with poverty

have, thus far, been based on limited information. There is

little scientific and operational knowledge about this process.

Urban growth and land consumption patterns are only

beginning to be recognised and regulating actions are still

more than limited. Thus, the available information is very

often inadequate for policy and planning. Due to the microstructure

and irregularity of fast growing urban agglomerations

as well as their direct adaptation to local conditions

and terrain, a generically applicable and operational mapping

of these settlements has proven difficult.

Sophisticated data and methods of image analysis are

thus necessary. High resolution, remotely sensed data sets

allow for the interactive documentation of the growth in urban

areas, both quantitatively and, in combination with ancillary

data sets, qualitatively. In order to analyse and evaluate

intra-urban patterns as well as trends in slums across

cities, such data must be taken throughout the various levels

of planning processes and must incorporate all existing

and documented socio-economic information. This article

will focus on the identification of the poor in the context

of slums, informal settlements, marginal areas and low income

neighbourhoods, as well as their spatial embedment

in a number of fast growing cities and megacities across the

globe. The examples given are gathered from the Indian subcontinent

and Latin America. The spatial profile that traces

poverty in complex cluttered, and hard to control fast growing

urbanised regions is elaborated by means of very high

22 IHDP Update 1.2009

Figure 1: Karail Bastee (part), Mahakhali, Dhaka Photograph by: Dr. Peter Kim Streatfield,

ICDDR,B. In: Centre of Urban Studies (CUS) and National Institute of Population

Research and Training (NIPORT) and MEASURE Evaluation (ed.) 2006: Slums of Urban

Bangladesh: Mapping and Census, 2005. Dhaka

resolution (VHR) remote sensing data and the appropriate

associated techniques.

The major methodological objective of this research is

to delineate specific social groups in their respective urban

environment and structure with VHR and GIS. When exploiting

remotely sensed data in terms of spectra, the Normalised

Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) explains the urban

green areas, their density, location and connectivity. Therefore,

NDVI analysis, based on the different reflection characteristics

of the vegetation in the red and near infrared spectral

bands, enables differentiation within and between the areas

of interest. In analysing the urban structure, Urban Structure

Types (UST) support social strata information. UST are spatial

indicators that help to divide and differentiate the urban

fabric into open and green spaces, infrastructure, and building

complexes so that typical characteristics such as physical,

functional and energetic factors can be identified. After the

classification of such single objects, the structural composition

in terms of the amount and connectivity of the single

IHDP Update 1.2009

Indentifying the Poor in Cities

objects is aggregated on a neighbourhood scale to generate a

UST (BANzhAF & höFEr 2008). The resulting UST layer forms

the basis for socio-environmental studies on topics such as

socio-spatial differentiation or for socio-ecological investigations

on neighbourhoods exposed to natural hazards (flooding,

landslides, etc.) and also supports socio-economical research

on inclusion and exclusion.

Beyond the presented case study in Santiago, this approach

comprises a segmentation procedure, a classification

scheme and a structural aggregation which approximates a

baseline when organising the urban pattern, and is therefore

transferable to other urban systems.

Mapping Slums and Informal Settlements – State

of the Art

UN-HABITAT established the Global Urban Observatory

(GUO) (uN-hABItAt 2009) in response to a decision

of the United Nations Commission on Human Settlements,

which called for a mechanism to monitor global progress

in implementing the Habitat Agenda as well as to monitor

and evaluate global urban conditions and trends. The Global

Urban Observatory (GUO) addresses the urgent need to

improve the worldwide base of urban knowledge by helping

governments, local authorities and civil society organisations

develop and apply policy-oriented urban indicators,

statistics and other urban information The GUO has succeeded

in installing an important network and databases.

The Global Urban Observatory Network (GUONet)

is a worldwide information and capacity-building network

established by the United Nations Human Settlement Programme

(UN-HABITAT) to help implement the Habitat

Agenda at the national and local levels. In the Global Urban

Observatory databases, a multitude of information is stored

on urban indicators, statistics and city profiles. It is now essential

to work further on UN-HABITAT agenda goals, for

example, to provide security of tenure, using durable structures

and overcrowding as indicators as well as to promote

access to basic services, using access to safe water and access

to improved sanitation as indicators.

In this light, an international expert group on remote

sensing, slum identification and mapping met at the International

Institute for Geoinformation Science and Earth

Observation (ITC) (CENtEr For INtErNAtIoNAL EArth

sCIENCE INForMAtIoN NEtwork (CIEsIN) 2009). The goal

of the workshop was to document methods for the identification

and delineation of slum areas based on VHR remote


Indentifying the Poor in Cities

sensing and supplementary data sets including census and

related GIS data on infrastructure and services.

A number of general conclusions were drawn regarding

the diversity of poor urban areas:

• Standard method: no universal model of a slum in

a physical sense exists and so no standard method

for all slum identification and mapping has been

developed. A local adjustment of certain parameters

is always required.

• Intra-urban coexistence: many different manifestations

of slums, informal settlements, or other

marginal areas may be found within one city, each

requiring specific methodological adjustments to

be identified and mapped.

• Human life indicators: it is necessary to understand

both the nature of building construction

(size,materials, shape), the nature of other objects

(roads, health and social service facilities, open

space), the characteristics of the site conditions (lo-

Maik Netzband on

sharing research

in an interdisciplinary


“Our research team learnt about the IHDP

Open Meeting 2009 at the end of 2007. This is

our first Open Meeting. We received the news

through the newsletter of the IHDP core project

Urbanization and Global Environmental Change

(UGEC). We expect that this Open Meeting will

be assembling scholars interested in the interface

of natural and social sciences for exchanging

and for discussing new ideas, concepts and

research efforts to foster further interdiciplinary

studies, especially on urban monitoring towards

sustainable cities. By organizing a session on

'Urban Remote Sensing (URS) and Social Sciences'

we seek to explore the potential of URS

for an integrated interdisciplinary social science

with a focus on urban sustainability. We trace

how URS can best fill the gaps in scientific information

to meet the needs of integrated spatial

social science”.

cation in urban area, slope, natural vegetation, hazards),

as well as the slum development process itself.

• Distinctive characterisation: slums and informal

settlements develop differently, for example,

through the gradual degradation of formal housing

and social filtering processes or through a variety

of informal housing development processes.

• Stage of a slum area (infancy, consolidation, maturity):

knowledge about slum characteristics and

changes are essential to properly identify and map

these areas from VHR images.

Ebert et al. (2009) have developed a new method

based on the contextual analysis of VHR image and GIS

data. An approach based on proxy variables derived from

high-resolution optical and laser scanning data is applied, in

combination with elevation information and existing hazard

data. With respect to social vulnerability indicators, an object-oriented

image analysis is applied to define and estimate

variables such as buildings, road access (paved/unpaved)

and green spaces with associated physical characteristics.

Sliuzas and Kuffer (2008) analyse the spatial heterogeneity of

poverty using selected remote sensing based spatial indicators

such as roof coverage densities and a lack of proper road

network characterised by the irregular layout of settlements.

Based on these indicators, the heterogeneity of several deprived

neighbourhoods were identified and different types

of poverty areas were deliniated. Other approaches, such as

that taken by Gamba et al. (2007), analyse VHR images of

disaster events to develop efficient methods for building detection.

These methods also estimate damages on the basis

of pre and post event images in order to map the presence,

location and status of buildings in order to provide a statistical

basis for planning instruments.

Such approaches exemplify the possibilities of VHR

images for poverty mapping and demonstrate the scale of

VHR needed to gain detailed information. In other words,

data aggregation may hide the spatial variation of the urban

structure, and thus, of poverty.

The Contribution of Remote Sensing in Determining

Spatial Configuration and in deriving

spatial information on Living Conditions

How remote sensing can help access the spatial configuration

of informal settlements and the living conditions

of urban dwellers is a central research question consisting

of several issues. To examine whether a spatial correlation

exists between the results of the different thematic land-use/

24 IHDP Update 1.2009

land-cover analyses, to identify land-use pat-

terns combined with a vegetation index analysis

(NDVI) and UST, to estimate spatial indicators

for quality of life and vulnerability to natural

hazards such as flooding The concept of classifying

UST by remote sensing and GIS has been

proved increasingly important as a baseline for

urban spatial research (BANzhAF ANd höFEr

2008; PuIssANt ANd wEBEr 2002; NIEBErgALL

Et AL. 2007; tAuBENBöCk Et AL. 2006). The

UST are characterised as follows. First, they can

identify different classes such as types of buildings

(different types of housing, industrial and

commercial sites, infrastructure), other classes

of impervious surfaces (road and rail infrastructure,

parking lots, etc.), and classes of open

spaces (woodland, allotments, parks). Second,

they can typify structures as per their individual

compositions, as it takes the composition of two

to three of the aforementioned classes to form

an urban structure type. Therefore, the amount,

connectivity, and distribution of impervious

surfaces, green spaces, and other open spaces on

an aggregated neighbourhood scale are the goal

of the quantitative spatial characterisation.

In terms of the urban vegetation pattern

analysed with the NDVI, existing vegetation and

other open areas are considered as positive urban

structure elements in terms of their ecological functions of

biodiversity and production of oxygen, for example, as well as

their social functions for individual recreational purposes and

as social meeting points. Water bodies as potential carriers

of disease and the road system as a potential air polluter are

considered as negative urban structures in the sense that their

proximity can cause respiratory and infectious diseases. Due

to the rapid population growth of megacities lacking appropriate

infrastructure measures, multiple health complaints

result for their inhabitants.

As a baseline for these research objectives, the challenge

is to develop rule sets which consist of a class hierarchy

and a process tree suitable to represent all existing UST represented

in each study area. A very large scale is warranted

when monitoring and analysing the land-use information

of a city using single features and UST. Multispectral and

panchromatic Quickbird data are used to identify and refine

even small features such as single bushes and tree crowns

and building size, as well as to delineate road networks.

In a first step, the rule set has to be developed in representative

areas of an urban agglomeration. In a second

IHDP Update 1.2009

Figure 2: Study area in central Dhaka, Bangladesh. Own study.

Indentifying the Poor in Cities

step, the rule set will then be transferred and adapted to the

whole study area. The process tree is developed as the core

of the classification scheme in which all processes are stored

and managed. In this module, all rules for each feature characterisation

are defined. Such feature characteristics can be

transferred to other parts of the Quickbird image with the

same acquisition date, for example, the same atmospheric

conditions and phenological phase.

Case Studies

Dhaka, Bangladesh

With its population density of 990 people per km²,

Bangladesh is known as the country with the highest population

density in the world (dEMogrAPhIC ANd hEALth

surVEys 2004) and with over eight million inhabitants, Bangladesh'

s capital Dhaka is called one of the most densely

populated and fastest increasing megacities of the world

(BurkArt Et AL. 2008).


Indentifying the Poor in Cities

There is an uncontrolled influx of people from rural

regions to the megacity of Dhaka (BEguM 1999), yet this in-

flux or city in-migration, is not accompanied by growth of

urban infrastructure and supply. Thus, many migrants move

into marginal areas already in critical situations, and result

in the persistent and increasing resource pressure in these

settlements. Insufficient water supply, waste disposal and

waste water treatment as well as traumatic hygienic conditions

and lack of access to basic services mark the living conditions

in these slums. Slum dwellers, on average, have poorer

health and are more vulnerable to disasters such as floods

(uN MILLENNIuM ProjECt 2005). At present, about one third

of Dhaka’s population lives in marginal settlements or slums

(BurkArt Et AL. 2008).

A further problem is that of environmental pollution

as a result of poorly developed infrastructure. Soil, air and

water pollution occurs through the burning of wastes such

as plastics and through a lack of sanitation. A rudimentary

suburban traffic system does not offer

alternatives and people thus use small motorcycles

and cars for mobility. The constantly growing

traffic that results with its associated emissions

adds to the contamination of urban air.

The three large rivers systems, the Gangha,

Brahmaputra and Meghna, flood each year, since

the artificially installed drainage systems cannot

handle the water masses sufficiently. The result

is an amplified surface discharge during the

monsoon season in particular, which lasts from

March until October. The slums, with all their

shanties, are thus seasonally threatened by such

floods, exacerbating the already precarious situation

faced by the inhabitants (CALdwELL 2004;

khAN 2007).

In the current investigation on the structure

of slum settlements in Dhaka, Bangladesh,

the goal is to prepare a vegetation-index (NDVI)

based analysis exploiting Quickbird VHR satellite

data in an object oriented classification scheme

and further GIS analysis to investigate the living

conditions and health endangerment for the inhabitants

in the slums of Karail and Badda. The

informal settlement of Karail has been choosen

due to its prominent status as largest marginal

quarter in Dhaka. (sEE FIg. 1). The vast majority

of Karail was mapped as slum area, and on closer

inspection of the original Quickbird data, an extremely

high building density was uncovered. The

land-use/land-cover classification and the NDVI

mapping shown in Figure 2 highlight the tremendous differences

in land-use patterns which can be found in Dhaka on

a very large scale, showing an extreme lack of vegetation in

poor areas and dispersed green spaces for middle and upper

class areas. The slum area of Karail is located in the west of

the map shown and identified as the one with the smallest

NDVI-values. On the island in between the water bodies,

there are upper middle to upper class residential neighbourhoods,

including some residents with diplomatic status.

These neighbourhoods show dispersed, multi-storey apartment

buildings and a high proportion of green and open

spaces. Again, this area contrasts with the urban area in the

east of this study, where one can find a land-use mosaic of

different building densities with a mix of rapidly changing

apartment blocks and shanties.

Figure 3: Santiago de Chile, District Lo Barnechea: Social housing building complex. Courtesy of

Juliane Welz, Risk Habitat Megacity, Field of Application “Socio-spatial Differentiation”

Figure 4: Santiago de Chile, District Lo Barnechea: Marginal area at river. Courtesy of Juliane Welz,

Risk Habitat Megacity, Field of Application “Socio-spatial Differentiation”

26 IHDP Update 1.2009

Figure 5: Study area in Lo Barnechea – Santiago de Chile. Own study.

Santiago de Chile

In the newly industrialising country of Chile, South

America, the highly dynamic capital, Santiago de Chile, with

its surrounding region, represents the dominant metropolis.

According to the national census, 5,392,804 inhabitants occupied

the Santiago urban region (SUR) in 2002, with 35.7

% of all Chilean people living in this metropolitan area, a

density of almost 10,000 inhabitants per square kilometre,

and a regional in-migration of 14.8 % (1992-2002) (INE

CENso 2002). As Santiago de Chile is located in the Central

Valley between the Andeas and the coastal cordillera, it is

simultaneously exposed to several natural hazards such as

urban flooding, landslides and earthquakes. Of great importance

is the change in the urban pattern, a process which

includes suburbanisation processes as well as the urban built

structures. Until the beginning of the 1980s, Santiago was

characterised by a high level of geographic segregation of

social groups. In fact, all high income households were concentrated

in the eastern sector of the city, while a considerable

agglomeration of poor families inhabited the south and

west (sABAtINI, 2000). This picture has now become more

diverse, influenced by a strong social housing programme.

IHDP Update 1.2009

Indentifying the Poor in Cities

Currently, social segregation still exists as does a

strongly regressive distribution of income, but richer

and poorer households live in neighbourhoods close to

one another. Both the state and the private sector have

strongly influenced the evolution of Santiago’s urban

pattern through intensive social housing programmes

on the one side and a vigorous private real estate sector

on the other.

The present study focuses on some adjacent

neighbourhoods in the local district or comuna, Lo

Barnechea, which is located in the north-east of SUR

towards the Andes, and through which the Mapocho

River runs. It is one of the local districts with the largest

contrasts in social dispersion, ranging from upper

class residential areas to social housing (FIg. 3), and is

one of the few informal settlements of Santiago (FIg.

4). It is the upper class that covers individual parcels

from 500 to 6,000 square metres in area and residential

buildings with surfaces covering 117 to 881 square metres

(gudIño & rEyEs PAECkE 2005, P. 92). In contrast

to these building types, the social housing complexes

cover a parcel size of approximately 70 to 120 square

metres, and are typified by row-to-row houses with four

storeys on poorer ground (gudIño & rEyEs PAECkE

2005, P.104). The informal settlement is characterised

by shanties with a complete lack of open spaces.

With the remote sensing techniques at hand, it

was feasible to analyse this urban structure based on the

surface characteristics described, which give an indication

of social status. As the urban structure is an important spatial

indicator for urban quality of life, VHR images from

Quickbird were analysed. In a first step, an object-oriented

classification approach was taken so as to identify the built

and natural environment. The proportion of single features

then form a UST for each neighbourhood (sEE FIgurE 5).

The study area comprises parts of the Mapocho River with

informal settlements next to the floodplain, social housing

neighbourhoods at a greater distance from the river bed,

and middle class residential areas with surrounding green

vegetation and individual swimming pools. As the Mapocho

River tends toward sudden flooding during the winter

season due to the Mediterranean climate in Santiago, the

aforementioned marginal area is extremely carries a high

level of flooding risk. Rapid and expansive watercourses, in

turn, lead to large areas of potential flood risk that occur at

sudden events of heavy rainfall (roMEro & ordENEs 2004).

The increase of flooding turns into disaster risk with human

lives being at stake by the construction of buildings and infrastructure,

because it negatively impacts the urban water


Indentifying the Poor in Cities

cycle. The ground’s infiltration capacity is greatly reduced

with the loss of pervious surfaces, and their value is lowest in

such exposed areas. That implies that the probability of being

affected by a flood is influenced by the building activities

in the catchment, especially those alongside the river bank.

Housing on river banks, and, more generally, in areas affected

by flooding, magnifies the risk for such inhabitants.

This study was implemented by the Helmholtz-funded

project Risk Habitat Megacity (rIsk hABItAt MEgACIty

2009) and part of the Field of Application “Land Use Management”.


Studies concentrating on the challenge of world urbanisation

and its links to global environmental change still

claim an unmet need for combined spatial, physical and socio-demographic

information. Using Geospatial Technology

to identify vulnerable groups and their spatial urban environment

could thus enhance the search for equity in megacities.

This contribution shows potential benefits of bridging

the gap between spatial analysis and remote sensing in

social science by characterising the deprivation of quality of

live for the urban poor, who are strongly influenced by their

physical environment.


A special thanks to the DHAKA-INNOVATE research network (DFG Priority

Programme 1233 Megacities: Informal Dynamics of Global Change,

in this case the Berlin-Bielefeld Consortium), which was so kind as to offer

raster and vector data for further exploitation and which made the case

study of Dhaka feasible.


1 University of Leipzig, Institute of Geography, Johannisallee 19a, 04104

Leipzig, Tel. +49-341-9098005

2 UFZ - Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research, Department of

Urban Ecology, Environmental Planning and Transport, Permoserstr. 15,

04318 Leipzig, Tel. +49-341-235-1738


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28 IHDP Update 1.2009

Favela in Sao Paulo. Photo by Aaron Michael Brown

Environmental Inequality

in São Paulo City: An

Analysis of the Differential

Exposures of Socio-

Demographic Groups to

Environmental Risk

Humberto Prates da Fonseca Alves

The paper’s objective is to operationalise the concept

of environmental inequality, measuring the association

between disadvantaged socioeconomic conditions

and greater exposure to environmental risks through

the use of geoprocessing methodologies.

IHDP Update 1.2009

Environmental Inequality in São Paulo City

Keywords: Environmental Inequality. Environmental

Risk. Environmental Justice. São Paulo

City. Populations at Risk. Geoprocessing Methodologies.


Environmental inequality can be defined

as the differential exposure of individuals

and social groups to environmental security

and risk. This implies that individuals are neither

equal from the perspective of the access

to environmental security and benefits such as

pure air, green areas and clean water, nor regarding

their exposure to environmental risks

such as floods, landslides and pollution. In this

way, factors such as residence location, dwelling

quality and transport availability can limit

the access to environmental benefits and increase

exposure to environmental risks (ALVEs,

2007; PAstor Et AL., 2001).

The argument of environmental inequality

emerges from the hypothesis that

a number of social groups, including some

minorities and low income populations, are

more prone to certain types of environmental

risks such as floods and landslides. Areas with

heightened environmental risk, often close to

landfills or subjected to floods and collapses,

are often the only places accessible to low income

populations. These populations, in turn,

end up building their dwellings in hazardous

conditions while simultaneously tackling other

environmental, sanitation and health problems

(torrEs, 2000; jACoBI, 1995).


Environmental Inequality in São Paulo City

Figure 1: Spatial distribution of the environmental risk areas (near to watercourses and with high slopes) and of the three groups

of regions (poor, middle class and high class) in the city of São Paulo Sources: CEM-Cebrap, environmental risk areas cartographies;

Marques (2005).

The expressions "environmental inequality" and “environmental

(in)justice" are often used interchangeably, a

fact that clearly propounds the closeness of these two concepts.

Environmental injustice can be defined, in a very

broad way, as an iniquity that is apparent or a real resultant

of the uneven distribution of environmental externalities

linked disproportionately to communities of minorities and

low income groups. Consequently, environmental justice or

environmental equity can be defined as the a reduction of or

release from environmental injustices (Most Et AL., 2004;

hoLIFIELd, 2001).

The concept of environmental justice emerged at the

end of the 1970s in the United States along with the social

movements prompted by Blacks, Native Americans, Latinos

and low income populations living close to landfills, radioactive

dumps and highly polluting industries. In that country,

the scope of research concerning environmental justice

is very extensive and has shown increasing scrutiny in the

past 30 years. This has had the effect of positively influencing

current environmental policies in North America (BuLLArd,

1990; CuttEr, 1995).

In view of these elements, the general objective of this

article is to operationalise the concept of environmental in-

equality in order to identify

and characterise situations

of environmental inequality

in the metropolis of São

Paulo, Brazil at the present

time. To achieve this, social

and environmental indicators

as well as geoprocessing

methodologies were utilised

to pinpoint and measure the

existence of a link between

disadvantaged socioeconomic

conditions and greater

exposure to environmental

risk. Further, an attempt

was made to verify whether

the current trend of environmental

inequality is increasing

in São Paulo city.

To accomplish this

objective we analysed the

exposure level of different

social groups to situations

of environmental risk in

São Paulo city, conducting a

comparative study of the demographic

and socioeconomic dynamics between the populations

living in areas of environmental risk and those living

elsewhere. The hypothesis was that environmental risks are

unevenly distributed among different social groups.

By gathering the analyses, it was possible to put forth

some geoprocessing methodologies to operationalise the

concept of environmental inequality. We believe that the development

of empirical analyses, in particular the quantitative

and spatial ones, is an important part of the endeavour

to advance environmental inequality and environmental

justice research in the scientific and academic milieu (ALVEs,

2007; ACsELrAd Et AL., 2004).

Environmental inequality in São Paulo city

Initially, the evolution of the population living in areas

of environmental risk between 1991 and 2000 was analysed

to verify whether environmental inequality has been increasing

in recent times within São Paulo city. For 1991 and

2000, the population living in areas of environmental risk,

defined for the purposes of this study as either very close to

watercourses (less than 50 meters) and/or on steep slopes

30 IHDP Update 1.2009

(more than 30% grade), was assessed using the "overlayer"


The estimates obtained for 1991 reveal a population

of 1.6 million living in areas of environmental risk in São

Paulo, corresponding to 16.5% of the total 1991 population

of the city, which totalled 9.6 million. In 2000, while the

population of the city reached 10.4 million, the number of

people living in areas of environmental risk rose to almost 2

million, accounting for 19.1% of its inhabitants (tABLE 1).

Therefore, the results reveal that 1 out of 5 inhabitants

of São Paulo city live in areas of environmental risk, as

constituted by localities in close proximity to watercourses

that suffer from flood riskand exposure to water bourne disease

and/or in localities positioned on steep slopes that carry

high mudflow risk.

The increase in the proportion of people in areas at

environmental risk within the total population results from

the fact that while these risky areas had a population growth

rate of 2.5% a year between 1991 and 2000, growth in the

remaining areas barely reached 0.5% a year (tABLE 2).

Despite their significance, however, these results are

distorted because most of the areas carrying high environmental

risk are concentrated in the poor and peripheral

regions of the city. Therefore, by observing the population

growth in the set of at risk areas, it is not possible to discern

whether such growth is a direct result of the environmental

characteristics of the areas or a result of the fact that this

type of area is concentrated in poor and peripheral regions

of the city.

Taking this into consideration and in order to prevent

the effect of peripheral population growth on population

growth data in areas of environmental risk, as aggregated

for the city as a whole, comparative analyses between areas

of risk and non-risk were performed for each of the three

groups of regions: "poor regions", with a predominantly low

income population; "middle class regions", with a predominantly

middle class population; and "high class regions", with

a predominantly high income population (MArquEs, 2005).

For each region, population size estimates within the

areas of risk and non-risk in both census dates were assessed.

Afterward, the population growth rates for 1991 and 2000

were measured (tABLEs 1 ANd 2). Figure 1 shows the spatial

distribution of the environmental risk areas and of the three

groups of regions (poor, middle class and high class) for São

Paulo city.

In the set of "poor regions" where a low income population

predominates, the proportion of people living in areas

of environmental risk reached an impressive 28.3% for 2000,

which represents a population contingent of 1.1 million peo-

IHDP Update 1.2009


Environmental Inequality in São Paulo City

The methodology is based on the construction

of a Geographical Information System (GIS),

through which the digital cartographies (layers)

of the environmental risk areas (near to watercourses

and with high declivities) are overlapped

with a digital mesh of the census sectors

of the 1991 and 2000 IBGE (Brazilian Institute

of Statistics and Geography) demographic censuses

of São Paulo city. The environmental risk

areas were selected based on their proximity

to watercourses (less than 50 meters) and/or

because they have high slopes (more than 30%)

which predispose them to floods and mudflows.

The population size, the demographic growth

and the socioeconomic characteristics of the

residents inside and outside of the environmental

risk areas were assessed for both census

dates. These estimates were done for the city

as a whole and for each region delimited by the

spatial distribution of the social groups of São

Paulo city (poor, middle class and high class).

To achieve these estimates, a geoprocessing

method known as "overlayer" was used. The

regions corresponding to the three large social

groups in the metropolis of São Paulo were defined

by Marques (2005), based on factorial and

cluster multivariate analyses and a broad set

of socioeconomic and demographic variables of

the 2000 demographic census.

The methodology performed in this paper

benefits from a GIS database developed at the

Centre for Metropolitan Studies (CEM-Cebrap).

Articles, research results and socio-demographic

and environmental data for São Paulo Metropolitan

Area can be downloaded at the Centre´s

website. For more information, see http://www.



Environmental Inequality in São Paulo City

ple living in areas with a cumulative overlap of poverty and

environmental risk. As for the "middle class regions" and

"high class regions", the proportions of the population living

in areas of environmental risk were much lower, at 14.8 and

9.9% respectively (tABLE 1).

The results also show that in all the three groups of

regions, the population grew more rapidly in the areas of environmental

risk between 1991 and 2000. Likewise, in the

peripheral and poor regions, the population in areas of risk

grew 4.8% a year, while the population outside these areas

recorded a much lower growth rate of 3.3% a year. In the

middle class regions, the number of residents in areas of environmental

risk increased 0.6% a year, while in the non-risk

areas, the population decreased 0.4% a year in the period

from 1991 to 2000. In the high class regions, the population

diminished at rates very similar to those in the areas of risk

and non-risk (tABLE 2).

As the high class regions, including areas at risk, had

negative population growth and the environmental risk areas

in the middle class regions increased nearly 0.6% a year,

the largest part of the population rise in the environmental

risk areas of São Paulo occurred in peripheral and poor regions.

Therefore, while the population of the poor and peripheral

regions grew at a moderate to high pace, the population

rose extremely rapidly in the environmental risk areas

within these suburbs. Additionally, the environmental

risk areas in the suburbs are, in general, less urbanised than

the areas of risk located in central and wealthy regions. This

means that the peripheral localities close to watercourses

and/or with steep slopes are very often situated in less urbanised

areas and are consequently more prone to environ-


Total of the


Poor regions

mental risks. Such areas presented explosive growth rates in

São Paulo city throughout the 1990s.

Discussion of the results and final considerations

The results show that the areas where the population

of São Paulo grew significantly between 1991 and 2000 were

both areas of environmental risk and peripheral and poor

areas. This phenomenon reveals a recent increase in environmental

inequality in the city. There are several decisive

factors that could explain the elevated growth rate of the

São Paulo population living in areas of environmental risk

as defined in this study, and in particular, in peripheral and

poor regions.

The first factor that explains the growth of the city

and of the metropolitan region of São Paulo continues to be

its horizontal expansion and urban sprawl. The suburbs of

the city and metropolitan region, especially in south, east

and north extremes, encompass a very dense watercourse

network due to the topographical and hydrological emplacement

of the city’s river basins. Furthermore, the peripheral

areas also cover mountainous regions such as the Cantareira

Mountain Range in the north of the city. This basically

means that the higher population growth rates in these areas

translate into a larger population increase in areas of environmental

risk (torrEs Et AL., 2007).

The second aspect has to do with the dynamics of

urban land occupation. As the urban mesh of the city, including

the more consolidated peripheral regions, is already

occupied to a great extent, it is reasonable to assume that the

continuity of the horizontal growth implies the occupation

1991 2000

Middle class


High class



Total of the


Poor regions

Middle class


High class


Total 9,644,122 2,799,606 5,198,973 1,644,240 10,434,252 3,873,362 5,074,262 1,486,628

Areas of risk 1,593,591 717,645 712,089 163,855 1,991,716 1,095,621 749,052 147,043

Non-risk areas 8,050,531 2,081,961 4,486,884 1,480,385 8,442,536 2,777,741 4,325,210 1,339,585

Participation (%)

Total 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00

Areas of risk 16.52 25.63 13.70 9.97 19.09 28.29 14.76 9.89

Non-risk areas 83.48 74.37 86.30 90.03 80.91 71.71 85.24 90.11

Table 1: Size and participation of the population, by regions, in relation to areas of environmental risk and non-risk. City of São Paulo – 1991-2000. Source: IBGE. Demographic

censuses of 1991 and 2000; CEM-Cebrap, cartographies of environmental risk areas; Marques (2005).

32 IHDP Update 1.2009

of less appropriate areas for human settlement,

such as the ones near watercourses

and those with high declivities. These areas

of environmental risk, very frequently,

are the only ones accessible to the low

income population because they are public

and/or preserved areas (invaded) or

because they have been very devaluated

in the market due to their risk levels and

lack of urban infrastructure (ALVEs, 2006;


A third factor is related to the significant

growth of the population living

in shanty towns. The association between

shanty towns and areas of environmental

risk, especially those on the edge of watercourses

but also those with high declivities,

is very apparent in the literature

concerning the subject (tAsChNEr, 2000) city of São Paulo

(sEE FIgurE 2).

In a few words, the natural conditions

of the areas where population

growth has occurred, the exhaustion of the available areas

for horizontal urban growth and the increase in shanty town

populations are some decisive factors that explain the significant

population rise in areas of environmental risk, recently

seen in the city of São Paulo.

The results also reveal that the population living in

environmental risk areas presents socioeconomic conditions

that leave these groups significantly disadvantaged

when compared with populations in non-risk areas. All indicators

considered point to the existence of disadvantaged

socioeconomic conditions in areas of environmental risk.


Total of the


IHDP Update 1.2009

Poor regions

Middle class


High class


Areas of environmental


2.51 4.81 0.56 -1.20

Areas of



0.53 3.26 -0.41 -1.10

Total 0.88 3.67 -0.27 -1.11

Table 2: Geometrical rates of annual population growth, by regions, in

relation to areas of environmental risk and non-risk. City of São Paulo –


Source: IBGE. Demographic censuses of 1991 and 2000; CEM-Cebrap, cartographies

of environmental risk areas; Marques (2005).

Environmental Inequality in São Paulo City

Figure 2: Shanty towns located on the edge of watercourses: a typical example of environmental risk area in the

Copyright: Luciana Travassos, researcher at Laboratório de Urbanismo da Metrópole (LUME-FAU-USP).

Among these indicators, there exists significant differences

between risk and non-risk areas in terms of access to public

sanitation and the proportion of people inhabiting shanty


The results of the analyses thus confirm the hypothesis

of a positive correlation between greater exposure to environmental

risk and disadvantaged socioeconomic conditions.

Beyond the validation of this hypothesis, the analysis

made here allows us to evaluate the environmental inequality

phenomenon in São Paulo in quantitative and spatial terms,

identifying the social groups most exposed to environmental

risk, their location and the number of people involved.

The identification and the characterisation of some

specific patterns of spatial coexistence as well as the overlap

of poverty and environmental risk situations existing

in metropolitan areas like the city of São Paulo demand the

development of detailed analyses. Those allowed by the geographical

information systems, which make use of extremely

disaggregated spatial units of analysis such as demographic

census sectors, are particularly well suited to this type of

study and can yield meaningful results. This work provides

insight into situations of environmental inequality in São

Paulo city and other metropolitan areas, potentially lending

strong support for the planning of social and environmental

public policies such as housing and sanitation.


Environmental Inequality in São Paulo City


Humberto Prates da Fonseca Alves, Associate Professor at Federal

University of São Paulo (UNIFESP), Brazil

Humberto Prates da Fonseca Alves

Rua Hermantino Coelho, 841 - Apto B33 – Mansões Sto


13087-500 – Campinas, SP – Brazil

Telephone: 5519-32560399

Email: humbiro@yahoo.com.br


Acselrad, H., Herculano, S. & Pádua, J. A. eds. (2004)

Justiça ambiental e cidadania. Rio de Janeiro, Ed.


Alves, H. P. F. (2007) Desigualdade ambiental no município

de São Paulo: análise da exposição diferenciada de

grupos sociais a situações de risco ambiental através

do uso de metodologias de geoprocessamento. Revista

Brasileira de Estudos de População, 24 (2) jul./dez., pp.


Alves, H. P. F. (2006) Vulnerabilidade socioambiental na

metrópole paulistana: uma análise sociodemográfica

das situações de sobreposição espacial de problemas

e riscos sociais e ambientais. Revista Brasileira de

Estudos de População, 23 (1) jan./jun., p. 43-59.

Bullard, R. (1990) Dumping in Dixie: race, class, and environmental

quality. San Francisco, Westview Press.

Cutter, S. (1995) Race, class and environmental justice.

Progress in Human Geography, No. 19, pp. 107–118.

Holifield, R. (2001) Defining environmental justice and

environmental racism. Urban Geography, 22 (1), pp.


Jacobi, P. R. (1995) Moradores e meio ambiente na cidade

de São Paulo. Cadernos CEDEC, No. 43, pp. 12–40.

Marques, E. (2005) Espaço e grupos sociais na virada do

século XXI. In: Marques, E. & Torres, H. eds. São

Paulo: segregação, pobreza e desigualdades sociais.

São Paulo, Editora Senac, pp. 57-80.

Most, M., Sengupta, R. & Burgener, M. (2004) Spatial scale

and population assignment choices in environmental

justice analyses. The Professional Geographer, 56 (4),

pp. 574–586.

Pastor, M., Sadd, J & Hipp, J. (2001) Which came first?

Toxic facilities, minority move-in, and environmental

justice. Journal of Urban Affairs, No. 23, pp. 1–21.

Taschner, S. P. (2000) Degradação ambiental em favelas de

São Paulo. In: Torres, H. & Costa, H. eds. População e

meio ambiente: debates e desafios. São Paulo, Editora

Senac, pp. 271-297.

Torres, H. (2000) A demografia do risco ambiental. In:

Torres, H. & Costa, H. eds. População e meio ambiente:

debates e desafios. São Paulo, Editora Senac, pp.


Torres, H., Alves, H. P. F. & Oliveira, M. A. (2007) São

Paulo peri-urban dynamics: some social causes and

environmental consequences. Environment & Urbanization,

19 (1), April, pp. 207-223.

Humberto Alves on the

Open Meeting 2009

“In 2005, I had a paper accepted for the 6th IHDP Open

Meeting, but was unfortunately not able to attend

because of a lack of funding. This time, since learning

of the 7th Open Meeting through the IHDP website in

January 2008, I have been looking forward to participating

in the meeting. My background is economics,

and I hold a master's degree in Sociology and a Ph.D.

in social sciences, all from the State University of

Campinas (Unicamp), Brazil. From 2004 to 2008, I was

a post-doctoral researcher at the Centre for Metropolitan

Studies (CEM-Cebrap) and at the National Institute

for Space Research (INPE) in Brazil. My main research

themes include population and the environment, socioenvironmental

vulnerability and inequality in metropolitan

areas, the socioeconomic and demographic drivers

of deforestation, urban sprawl and peri-urbanisation,

and social and environmental indicators. I am currently

an associate professor at the Federal University of São

Paulo (Unifesp), Brazil. I have been working on issues

regarding the population and its environmental relationships

for quite some time. In my doctoral studies,

I studied the socioeconomic and demographic drivers

of deforestation in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. In my

post-doctorate, I worked with indicators of environmental

inequality and socio-environmental vulnerability

in the São Paulo Metropolitan Area. As one of the four

major social challenges of the IHDP Open Meeting 2009

is How do we deal with demographic challenges?, this

will be an exceptional opportunity to divulge my work.

I am therefore looking forward to taking part in the

IHDP Open Meeting 2009 both to show my work and to

learn more about the work of scientists and researchers

from all over the world in the field of the human dimensions

of global environmental change. It will be a unique

chance to meet colleagues and friends and make new

research contacts with scientists from other countries.

In sum, participating in the IHDP Open Meeting 2009

will be an extraordinary occasion, and one that cannot

be missed”.

34 IHDP Update 1.2009

Characterising the

Mis-Linkages in the Transition

to Sustainability

in Asia *

Xuemei Bai and Anna J. Wieczorek


Many countries in Asia have been going through an

unprecedented process of economic development, industrialisation

and urbanisation during the past decades [1, 2].

These processes, multiplied by the speed of change and the

size of the populations involved, have resulted in the region

playing a pivotal role in global sustainability (Fig.1). In Asia,

the importance of sustainable development has been widely

recognised, evident in the many national councils for sustainable

development established and the term’s appearance

in high-level governmental documents. Many countries also

claim to have policies aimed at achieving sustainable development

[3]. Furthermore, numerous successful local sustainability

experiments are widely documented [4], which

we refer to as planned initiatives to embody a highly-novel

socio-technical configuration likely to lead to substantial

sustainability gains.

IHDP Update 1.2009

Characterising the Mislinkages in the Transition to Sustainability

Traffic Jam in the Ratchaburi Floating Market. Photo: Stuck in Customs

There is little evidence, however, that these national

policies and local practices are bringing about a sustainability

transition. Here we define a transition as a radical change

towards meeting the needs of a stabilising future world population,

while reducing hunger and poverty and maintaining

the planet’s life support systems [5, 6]. The question would

be: why the systems change towards sustainability is not

happening? What is preventing government policy from influencing

the environmental sustainability of development

and what is preventing the good local practices from being

upscaled to influence overall trends?

In this article, we examine the sustainability of Asian

development pathways by applying the aspects of the multilevel

perspective (MLP) on system innovation. Based on empirical

evidence from the region, we argue that the missing

mechanisms providing linkages among various levels in socio-technical

systems, both in terms of upscaling successful

practices and downscaling good policy intentions, are a pri-

*This paper presents some initial results of an ongoing study on Urbanization and Sustainability Transition in Asia, and is based on a recently published

paper Bai, X.M., A.J. Wieczorek, S. Kaneko, S. Lisson, A. Contreras: (2009) Enabling Sustainability Transition in Asia: The importance of vertical and horizontal

linkages. Technological Forecasting and Social Change 76: 255-266.


Characterising the Mislinkages in the Transition to Sustainability

mary factor obstructing the

sustainability of economic and

political transitions in Asia.

System Innovation Studies

Socio-technical tran- 1 0 0

sitions have gained increasing

attention both in recent

research [7-10] and in policy

discourses about sustainability

in industrialised countries.

5 0

While many local and region-


al environmental problems

have been addressed through

C r u d e S te e l P r o d u c tio n

regulation and adaptation of

# o f c a r s in u s e

existing systems, new environmental

problems, such as

climate change, appear to require

a radical reorientation of

E le c tr ic ity p r o d u c tio n

C O 2 e m is s io n

production and consumption


world (ROW). (Bai et al, 2009)

In innovation studies,

sustainability transitions have been conceptualised as

socio-technical system changes involving major and mutually-reinforcing

alterations to the economic, technological,

institutional and socio-cultural domains of systems fulfilling

basic societal functions [10, 11]. System innovations have

a number of specific attributes. They are radical, long term

[12, 13], multi-actor [14] and multi-level [8, 15]. Given their

complexity, system innovations are still not well understood

and are difficult to induce. To grasp this complexity and the

dynamics of transition processes, a multilevel perspective on

system innovations (MLP) has been proposed [16, 17, 8, 15] as

a conceptual framework to help understand and analyse the

way in which transitions unfold.

In this framework, the meso-level comprises a sociotechnical

regime, a concept that builds upon that of technological

regime [18], but which is significantly widened to

include actors, skills, product characteristics, rule sets, etc.

[17]. The socio-technical regime, for instance, a regional

transportation system, accounts for the stability of the socio-technical

system through the coordinated and aligned

activities of its actors. The regimes are set in a macro-level

context called the socio-technical landscape describing

broad, slow-changing factors that influence a variety of regimes.

The landscape includes government and internation-

2 5 0

2 0 0

1 5 0

( 1 9 9 4 = 1 0 0 )

A s ia

1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005

T o ta l P r im a r y E n e r g y S u p p ly ( m illio n T O E )

al policies, institutional frameworks, power relationships

between important societal groups, cultural values, and

shared understandings about societal problems and visions

of the future. Nested within the socio-technical regimes is a

micro-level structure of technological niches in which more

radical configurations of technology, institutions and behaviour

emerge under conditions of temporary protection from

full-scale market selection [16].

The key feature of the MLP is that transitions occur

through the interplay between the dynamics at these three

levels. The framework is a nested hierarchy [15, 8], which can

account for the stability in a regime, as well as for instabilities

that can eventually lead to the growth of more radical

alternative regimes precipitating a transition. Conditions

within the incumbent regime1 and disruptive developments

at the landscape level create windows of opportunity leading

to a search for more radical alternatives and novel solutions

to problems [19, 20]. The novelties emerging in technological

niches may, under these conditions, attract support and

break through to either re-stabilise or disrupt the incumbent

regime. Over the longer term, the emerging regime may

come to complement or substitute the incumbent one [21].

1 When e.g. existing technologies and behaviours are no longer sufficient

to deal with arising problems.

36 IHDP Update 1.2009

2 5 0

2 0 0

1 5 0

1 0 0

5 0


( 1 9 9 4 = 1 0 0 )


1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005

C r u d e S te e l P r o d u c tio n

# o f c a r s in u s e

T o ta l P r im a r y E n e r g y S u p p ly ( m illio n T O E )

E le c tr ic ity p r o d u c tio n

C O 2 e m is s io n

Figure 1. A comparison of production, consumption and environmental impact indicators between Asia and the rest of the

Analytical Framework

Analogously to the insights from the system innova-

tion literature, we propose a three dimensional framework

to examine what specific factors facilitate or obstruct transitions

to sustainability in Asia. Levels here correspond with

the analytical levels of the MLP, in particular, the landscape

and regime concepts. The micro level comprises sustainability

experiments (see Fig. 2).

The first dimension emphasises the vertical linkages

between various levels, for example, between local level practice

(micro) and national level policies (meso), and between

national level policies (meso) and international governance

regimes (macro). These vertical linkages are well documented

by existing studies mentioned in previous section.

The second dimension consists of horizontal linkages,

for example, linkages between experiments or between regimes,

in particular different governmental sectors and policies.

These horizontal dynamics have not yet received as much

attention in the system innovation literature as the first dimension

[22, 23], although we show that they are important.

The third dimension shows how the vertical and horizontal

linkages change over time, or with economic development,

and how changes in turn affect the transition. The

relationships of the vertical and horizontal linkages are not

static but subject to change over time.

We argue that these linkages between and within levels

are critical for substantial change to happen. Lack thereof

hampers change despite numerous efforts made at specific

levels. Among these dimensions, vertical linkages seem the

most important in converting successful experiments into

regime changes, or in translating a good policy intention

into practical success. However, the horizontal dimension

appears equally relevant, as it seems to be responsible for

conditions within which ‘a translation’ between experiments

and regimes takes place.

Characterising the Vertical Mis-Linkages

In this section we characterise the factors causing

vertical mis-linkages. We focus on the dynamics between

meso (regimes) and micro (experiments) levels, with particular

attention to institutional dimension, which in Asia

seems crucial to sustainability transition.

Two groups of factors can be identified: one comprises

factors and reasons that obstruct the upscaling of successful

experiments leading to regime change while the other

concerns factors and reasons that obstruct downscaling and

IHDP Update 1.2009

Characterising the Mislinkages in the Transition to Sustainability

translating good policy intentions into practical successes at

the local level.

The factors that obstruct upscaling include externalities,

failure in governance and the burden of scale.


Some success stories at a local level might be achieved

through externalities, a fact that constrains duplication of

such successes at larger scales. For example, the environmental

improvements seen in some Chinese cities have been

achieved by relocating polluting industries to other cities or

to outer suburbs, which means the improvement entails external

costs beyond the system boundaries [24]. This type of

success is perhaps achievable by a front-runner, but is not

replicable in all other locations and especially not achievable

on a wider scale due to the externality.

Failure in governance at an upper or lower level:

Successful examples are often the result of vision and

knowledge, strong political will, good policy and management

measures, and painstaking efforts at implementation

by government agencies. The success example of Rizhao city

in promoting solar energy use, described below, illustrates

the importance of these factors. Upscaling such successful

practices often requires equally effective governance at a

higher level. The Bangladesh rural electrification case shows

that the lack of such elements at higher-level governance

not only hampers the upscaling of locally successful experiments,

but may even hamper successful practices at the local

level. The Bangladesh case is also a good example of a regime

not creating windows of opportunity for successful local experiments.

Despite the fact that the government recognises

the problem and is committed to solving it, little coordinated

action is taken to facilitate change, partly due to failures

in institutional design as well as a lack of capacity.

Burden of scale:

Success at a smaller scale requires a smaller scale of

funding availability, human capacity, as well as relatively

simple institutional arrangements, which might be relatively

easier to obtain. The institutional and political demands

necessary to mobilise resources along with the governance

capabilities and organisational arrangements to achieve the

same success at a higher level are much greater. The Bangladesh

electrification case, presented below, is a good example

of this factor.

Factors that contribute to difficulties in downscaling

good policy intention include state simplification


Characterising the Mislinkages in the Transition to Sustainability

Xuemai Bai on

the Open Meeting


“I have been a member of IHDP community

since 1998, and have participated in many of

its open meetings and various workshops. I

look forward to participating in the IHDP Open

Meetings as they provide an excellent platform

for exchanging ideas, meeting old friends, and

building up new research networks. I will be

presenting two co-authored papers at the 2009

Open Meeting, and as a Science Steering Committee

Member of IHDP Industrial Transformation

Core Project, I am also participating in IT

related forums and meetings”.

versus local particularity, conflicts of interest and imple-

mentation capacity.

State simplification versus local particularity:

There is evidence that policy at the national level often

fails to attend to the particular local situation, and that

goals and targets set by national governments do not reflect

the reality of local situations. For example, one of the major

factors that contributed to the failure of Huai River Basin

pollution control efforts led by the Chinese government was

that the national pollution control policy and target setting

did not correspond to the local situation [25]. A good policy

needs to be in tune with the local level reality.

Conflict of interest:

National policies sometimes are challenged by conflicts

of interest between whole and parts, where whole is national

level success outcome and parts can be a particular sector or

local entity. Local interests often get in the way of the effective

implementation of national policy at the local level, and

competing interests or a lack of coordination among different

governmental sectors jeopardizes effective implementation

[26, 27]. The central government’s lack of control over actions

at the local level is regarded as one of the biggest governance

problems in Chinese environmental policy. Conflicting interests

also can be found between private and public interests

and often lead to the undermining of a public good such as

the environment, in favour of private goods, such as income

or employment. This often constrains the development of effective

sustainability policy experiments.

Implementation capacity:

Good policies in Asia are often challenged by the local

implementation capacity, due partly to the nature of decentralisation

processes in Asian countries, where power is

given without accompanying financial capacity. The lack of

knowledge and skills can result in the national policy intention

being misinterpreted at the local level, which causes the

intention to get lost in translation. This suggests that local

readiness for a policy is necessary in order for that policy to

be successful. The extent to which this readiness is a matter

of time remains unclear, but it is a dimension that needs

further exploration.

Case Studies From Asia

The aforementioned analytical framework and factors

are based on the examination of much empirical evidence,

both in terms of cases of success and failure. In this section,

we present three case studies, highlighting how different aspects

of the six factors discussed above influence linkages

between sustainability experiments and governmental policies

in Asia over time. A detailed description of the cases can

be found in Bai et al. [28].

Case Study 1: Cattle Production in Eastern Indonesia

The demand in Indonesia for both meat and live beef

cattle for resettlement areas currently exceeds the local supply

capacity, with the deficit largely met by imports from

Australia. A new approach was developed and implemented

among a small number of farmers to promote a wider adoption

of livestock improvement technologies. This approach

involves introducing new grass and legume forage species and

associated optimum management strategies to the local farmers.

The pilot phase of the approach was proven successful,

resulting in increased farm area for forage production as well

as improved cattle production or voluntary adoption of the

technology 'package' (or its parts) by farmers in the respective

and neighbouring villages. Most of the farmers involved intend

to continue and expand the use of such best practice.

38 IHDP Update 1.2009

Despite the apparent success of such a strategy at the

village level, there are a number of challenges associated

with upscaling to the regional level. Widespread adoption

requires a significant operational shift by Indonesian extension

agencies and one of the challenges is to convince

farmers of the significant benefits of new forage to their

livestock enterprises. This emphasis on working with individual

farmers is different from the current approach in

which ‘proven’ technologies are typically extended to large

groups of farmers in a one size fits all, top-down approach.

The new approach requires tailor made solutions and a farm

specific, farmer driven systems approach as well as a multidisciplinary,

skilled team able to cope with the complex,

interdependent nature of particular farming systems. The

team needs to gain the respect of participating farmers and

maintain regular contact with them. Once there is evidence

of commitment and upscaleing to neighbouring farms, the

extension team may move on. This reliance on farmer-tofarmer

technology extension is complex, elevating the risk

that broader populations of farmers may find it difficult to

effectively adapt the approach to their own situations.

This case study shows various vertical mis-linkage

factors associated with the adoption of new livestock and

forage technologies in mixed crop/livestock smallholder enterprises

of eastern Indonesia. In particular, it highlights the

mis-linkages relating to the burden of scale, state simplification

and implementation capacity.

Case Study 2: Solar Energy Use in Rizhao, China

Rizhao is, by Chinese standards, a relatively small

coastal city on the Shandong Peninsula in northern China.

Since the early 1990s, the city has achieved widespread success

in adopting renewable energy [29]. About 99% of households

in the central districts use solar water heaters, and

most traffic signals, streetlights and park lights are powered

by photovoltaic solar cells. In the suburbs and villages, many

households are generating mash gas from sewage and using

an array of solar energy devices such as solar water heaters,

solar cooking facilities and solar heated greenhouses. It

is estimated that the use of clean energy has reduced CO2

emissions by 3,340,000 tons and SO2 by 12,500 tons annually

[30]. In 2007, the Transatlantic 21 Association awarded

the Rizhao initiative the World Clean Energy Award.

The success of Rizhao demonstrates the importance

of positive vertical and horizontal linkages through positive

synergies among multiple actors, and illustrates the positive

impact of a successful experiment to other regimes. The

IHDP Update 1.2009

Characterising the Mislinkages in the Transition to Sustainability

Shandong provincial government has provided policy measures

to encourage the development and adoption of solar

energy use in the form of subsidies to industrial R&D on solar

energy. The panels were made easy to install and the cost

of solar water heaters was brought down to the level of their

electric counterparts, creating large financial savings per

household (120 USD per year [29, 31]). Under this favourable

policy environment at the upper governmental level, Rizhao

city government has played a pivotal role in the popularisation

of solar water heaters. The city mandates all new buildings

to incorporate solar panels, overseeing the construction

process to ensure proper installation. Government buildings

and the homes of city leaders were the first to have the panels

installed. The city also launched a widespread public education

campaign, both advertising on television and holding

public seminars.

While contributing significantly to an improved energy

profile and reduced peak energy demand, the merit of popularising

solar energy has had profound impacts beyond the

energy sector. It has reduced coal burning in the city and improved

air quality, allowing the city to attract increasing levels

of foreign investment and tourism, as well as highly educated

people, wishing to become the residents of the city [29]

This case is a positive example of how well-functioning

vertical and horizontal linkages can induce a positive

sustainability outcome at the city level. With national or city

government policies to encourage renewable energy use, effective

governance to implement policy, and low cost solar

water heaters readily available, upscaling the experiment to

city level was successful.

Case Study 3: Rural electrification in Bangladesh

The Rural Electrification Program (REP) in Bangladesh

was started in 1978 as an important element of poverty alleviation

in Bangladesh. Its aim was to expand on-grid electrification

in rural areas through the establishment of communitybased

cooperatives called Palli Bidyut Samities (PBSs). Under

the REP, the number of electrified villages (and the related

electricity consumption) has greatly increased in rural Bangladesh,

as have the agricultural production and employment

rates. The programme has been recognised as an example of

a best practice in international development assistance and

attracted the attention of other developing countries.

The PBS system has worked well and raised rural

electrification from near zero in 1978 to over 20% in 2001.

With the growing electricity demand, however, the system

began to face serious and frequent load shedding and black-


Characterising the Mislinkages in the Transition to Sustainability

outs due to power supply shortages from the Bangladesh

Power Development Board (BPDB), which, until 1978, was

the only agency responsible for generation, transmission and

distribution of electricity. The problem has escalated during

irrigation seasons and has currently reached a serious stage,

highlighted by an incident in early 2006 in which 17 farmers

were killed amid violence between the police and protesters

demanding access to electricity. A state monopoly under the

BPDB, power generation in Bangladesh is also exposed to

the political interferences. Since 1991, the ruling party has

been changed alternately every 5 years, causing political turbulence,

conflicts and adversely affecting the continuity and

implementation of power development projects. This has restricted

the expansion of electricity generation capacity while

the demand for electricity in rural areas has been growing.

With the expansion of the REP over the entire country, the

REP has attracted more attention from politicians and government

officers, thereby undergoing the politicisation of its

autonomous and democratic decision making powers.

This case highlights vertical linkages and, in particular,

how a governance failure can hamper successful local practice

and its upscaling. From the vertical linkage perspective,

the case illustrates the tension between a top-down approach

of power supply and a bottom-up approach of rural electrification.

The case also illustrates the problems related to the

burden of scale through the growing bureaucratic nature of

the REP, as it was scaled up. It shows how the relationship

between the experiment and socio-technical regime changes

from favourable to conflict ridden, as experiments accumulate

and attempt to scale up. This highlights the importance of

an evolutionary view in analysing such linkages.


The application of a system innovation perspective to

the analysis of cases in Asia reveals the existence of conditions

favourable for a transition to sustainability and there is a positive

momentum both at the national level and in the form of

a number of small scale sustainability experiments. The MLP,

however, does not pay enough attention to the horizontal linkages

and their dynamics. We developed a three-dimensional

analytical framework encompassing vertical and horizontal

linkages that changed over time, in order to further identify

specific factors obstructing the upscaling of good practices

and the downscaling of good policy intentions.

The analysis of cases suggests that disturbances at various

levels alone are not sufficient to generate systems changes.

What is necessary is the existence of a robust mechanism

that captures the positive momentum of the disturbance at

a certain level and then reflects and links it to the upper and

lower levels of the system so as to create a synergic transformation.

The emphasis on linkage might have particular importance

in the Asian context. Due to the historical context

and the telescoped development pattern, the Asian situation

is qualitatively different from that experienced by the OECD

countries [32], as the regime actors in the Asian context are

faced with many problems to solve simultaneously [2, 32-34].

This complexity adds to the difficulty of establishing linkages

between local level initiatives promoting sustainability

and national level policies. It might also be that more time is

necessary for positive effects to emerge, but we do not have

sufficient evidence to draw any strong conclusions as to the

effect of temporal factors in terms of the effect of the accumulation

of successful experiments. How time and economic

development influence vertical and horizontal relations is

an important analytical dimension that is yet to be explored

theoretically and empirically.

The innovation and experimentation does not only

seem to be technology related, as the MLP suggests. Especially

in Asia, the importance of technology seems to be

outweighed by other factors related to social, economic and

political context. Most experiments have therefore been

conducted in the field of policy modernisation and institutional



This paper presents some initial results of an ongoing study on Urbanisation

and Sustainability Transition in Asia, and is based on a recently published

paper Bai, X.M., A.J. Wieczorek, S. Kaneko, S. Lisson, A. Contreras: (2009)

Enabling Sustainability Transition in Asia: The importance of vertical and

horizontal linkages. Technological Forecasting and Social Change 76: 255-



Xuemei Bai is Senior Science Leader at CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems,

leading research in the fields of urbanisation and environmental change,

urban and industrial ecology, urban resource and environmental management,

environmental policy in China and sustainability transitions in Asia

and Australia.

Anna J. Wieczorek is an executive officer of the Industrial Transformation

project of the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental

Change (IHDP IT) hosted by the Institute for Environmental

Studies (IVM), Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. .


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Men watching television in rural Bangladesh

Photo: Jeevs Sinclair


The Open Meeting - a Platform to present the Synthesis Process of GECHS and IT

Human Security

in an Era of Global

Change – The GECHS

Synthesis Process

Linda Sygna, Kirsten Ulsrud and Karen O’Brien

Photo: UN Photo/Logan Abassi

The relationship between social processes and grow-

ing environmental challenges is at the core of research with-

in the Global Environmental Change and Human Security

(GECHS) project. GECHS research places environmental

changes within larger socioeconomic and political contexts,

and focuses on the way diverse social processes such

as globalization, poverty, disease, and conflict, combine

with global environmental change to affect human security.

GECHS research recognizes the need to move human beings

and societies to the center of global environmental change

research—an approach that is closely related to the theme

of the Open Meeting 2009, “The Social Challenges of Global


Human security can be interpreted as the freedom to

take actions that promote well-being in response to changing

environmental conditions. Key themes that have been investigated

by GECHS researchers include the effects of global

environmental change on water resources; the role of governance;

linkages between environmental change and food security;

conflict and cooperation in transboundary resource

management; linkages between environmental change and

population displacement and migration; gender dimensions

of environmental change; resource scarcity and conflict;

multiple stressors, differential vulnerability and adaptive capacity;

the role of culture, values, and worldviews in understanding

and responding to environmental change; climate

change and human security implications in cities and coastal

urban areas; linkages between environmental change and

poverty; and many other themes. The Open Meeting 2009

will serve as an arena for stocktaking on research related to

these themes, and for presenting GECHS perspectives and

research on global environmental change and human security

to the wider human dimensions community.

Below, we showcase some of the perspectives and

themes that will be presented in 15 GECHS sessions at the

Open Meeting, using three broad, interrelated streams of

knowledge that have been emerging over the years within

GECHS. The GECHS project is currently in a synthesis

phase, whereby ten years of research findings are being consolidated,

synthesized and disseminated. Progress has been

made in three areas. First, there have been important advances

on the conceptualization of human security, particularly

in terms of framing and understanding the implications

of environmental change for individuals and communities.

Second, a large body of empirical research has been created

on how various aspects of human security are influenced

by environmental change, and how multiple processes of

change threatens social, human and environmental rights.

The third broad stream of research within the GECHS proj-

42 IHDP Update 1.2009

ect is devoted to human capabilities to respond to social

and environmental stress, and how to create positive social

change and enhance human security in the context of global

environmental change. In the sections below, we will go into

more detail and give some empirical example to shed light

on how human security research can help society frame, research

and address environmental and social challenges in

the coming decade.

The Conceptualization of Human Security

Since the GECHS project was established in 1999,

there has been a considerable evolution in the ways that both

human security and global environmental change research

have been framed and discussed. In terms of human security,

discussions have moved beyond a state-centered focus

to include individual and collective security. The emphasis

is increasingly on how individuals and communities can respond

to an assortment of stresses and shocks that threatens

their social, environmental and human rights. In emphasizing

the human context in which biophysical changes both

occur and are created, the focus has been directed towards

various dimensions of security, including food security, water

security, livelihood security and environmental security.

In terms of global environmental change, perspectives

from the social sciences and the humanities are increasingly

seen as critical to understanding the causes and

consequences of biophysical changes. What has emerged

from GECHS research is the importance of framing environmental

changes as social and ethical issues, rather than

viewing them exclusively as environmental problems. Culture,

values, and worldviews are also brought into global environmental

change research as dimensions that influence

both vulnerability and responses to environmental change.

Understanding the human context of environmental change

is important in order to ensure development paths that increase

human security and promote sustainability. Despite

growing attention to these diverse aspects in the research

on global environmental change, much of this research is

still in an early phase, and there are significant potentials

for advancing it further. This implies bringing together and

integrating new and different perspectives on global environmental


Climate change has been an important research

theme within the GECHS network, and much of the research

underscores the need to strengthen the social and human

dimensions in current debates about climate change. To

date, the issue of climate change has been widely discussed

IHDP Update 1.2009

The Open Meeting - a Platform to present the Synthesis Process of GECHS and IT

and debated among scientists and policymakers as an environmental

issue, rather than as a human security issue. Current

discourses on climate change draw attention to growing

bodies of research on biophysical changes of the earth

system, as well as on the economics and politics of climate

change management. Although the climate change vulnerability

literature has emphasized differential exposure, sensitivities,

and adaptive capacities, as well as the concept of

social vulnerability, there has been less attention given to the

implications of differential outcomes and changing vulnerabilities

for human security. Furthermore, the consequences

of adaptation and mitigation responses to climate change

have not been widely considered. Climate change does not

take place in isolation from other ongoing environmental

and social changes, and the consequences of climate change

are likely to exacerbate some of the already-urgent challenges

to biodiversity, water management, coastal zone management,

and many other environmental issues. A framework

for the investigation of multiple stressors can, for example,

shed light on interactions between globalization and global

environmental change, including why many regions, sectors,

and social groups may be “double exposed” to these global

change processes.

Global Environmental Change and Implications

for Human Security

Water stress, food insecurity, health insecurity and

loss of livelihoods are currently the reality of many people

and communities around the world. Interactions between

environmental and social processes are likely to have widespread

human consequences, thus GECHS research emphasizes

humanitarian consequences of environmental

change. Research on how individuals and communities are

influenced by global environmental change takes local needs

and the central problems in people’s lives as starting points.

This facilitates a deeper and more nuanced understanding

of how people both are affected by and affect environmental

changes. Such understandings form a necessary foundation

for solutions to human insecurity around the world. Water

scarcity, for example, has emerged as a serious issue for social

and economic development in many parts of the world.

What is evident is that the water crisis does not emerge as a

result of diminishing precipitation and limited water availability

alone, but it is also often a result of struggle over

access to and control of water resources. Instead of viewing

water scarcity as something natural, GECHS research


The Open Meeting - a Platform to present the Synthesis Process of GECHS and IT

Mobilizing a

New Generation

of Human

Security Researchers

The Open Meeting serves as a forerunner to

the GECHS Synthesis Conference that will take

place June 22-24 at the University of Oslo in

Norway. The synthesis phase does not only

involve highlighting the achievements of ten

years of research, it also involves elaborating

on the new research questions that are likely to

drive future research on global environmental

change. Mobilization of a new and committed

group of researchers will be a goal of the synthesis

process, and the Open Meeting represents

the first step in this direction. A side event

will take place both during the Open Meeting

and at the GECHS Synthesis Conference June

22-24 where a new generation of human security

researchers will be welcome to bring new

ideas to the table.

argues that the scarcity in many cases is caused by sociopolitical


A human security framing presents an alternative to

the traditional analysis of for example the consequences of

climate change. Whereas much of the attention, both within

research and in policy, is given to the biophysical impacts associated

with climate change, less attention is given to the

broader social consequences. Focusing on the social context

and social vulnerability, may bring us closer to answering

some of the following questions: Who are most affected by

climate variability and change? And why? Who are the winners

and losers? What makes some people more vulnerable

than others? How does climate change interact with other

processes to affect human security? What are the implications

for equity and sustainability? How do different beliefs, values

and worldviews influence processes, responses and outcomes?

Whose values count in responding to climate change?

Increasing Human Security in the Context of

Global Environmental Change

How to respond to environmental problems is becoming

an increasingly urgent question around the world,

among not only politicians and practitioners, but also among

the general public. GECHS research emphasize that the ability

to respond both individually and collectively forms the

backbone of sustainable strategies to reduce the adverse effects

of environmental change. Strengthening the capacity

to respond to global environmental change—including having

the options to end, mitigate, or adapt to risks to people’s

human, environmental and social rights—is central to research

within the GECHS network. Having the capacity and

freedom to exercise these options, and actively participate

in pursuing these options is also fundamental, which raises

important questions of voice and power. The human context

and differential vulnerability serve as starting points

for addressing environmental change. Rather than seeking

and creating solutions that target environmental stress separately,

GECHS research points towards solutions that seek

not only to reduce risk, but also to reduce vulnerability and

enhance adaptive capacity.

A human security approach opens up for a more positive

and visionary view on the future and what can be accomplished.

Developing human capabilities and promoting

social transformations has the potential to enhance human

well-being and security under change and uncertainty. This

means addressing the social context in which the adverse

impacts of environmental change is taking place. Some of

the central questions in this field of human security research

are: How do individuals, communities and societies adapt

to rapid change? What are the limits to and potentials for

adaptation? What will be lost? How can positive experiences

and useful technologies spread? What are the barriers to

social change? What are the opportunities for sustainable

responses? How can we create rapid social transformations

in a just and equitable manner?

These questions and many others will be addressed

in the 15 GECHS sessions at the Open Meeting. Sessions on

water security, sustainable adaptation, conflict, limits to adaptation,

poverty and climate change, double exposure, and

vulnerable cities will form an important arena for presenting

and discussing how far we have come in understanding the

relationship between human security and global environmental


44 IHDP Update 1.2009

Moving Societies

in a Sustainable Direction

- The Industrial


Synthesis Process

Anna J. Wieczorek and Frans Berkhout

IHDP Update 1.2009

The Open Meeting - a Platform to present the Synthesis Process of GECHS and IT

Production lIne of electronic devices in China. Photo: Gualterio Pulvirenti

After 9 years of its operation the Industrial Trans-

formation project has entered its synthesis phase. As com-

pared to a decade ago the urgency of global environmental

change, including climate change, loss of biodiversity, urban

tsunami, global population growth, growing resources

scarcity, becomes increasingly painful. The changes cause

higher level of disruption and growing restlessness of various

social groups, including individuals. The difficulty of the

situation may be amplified in the very next years because of

the on-going financial crisis and the yet-to-come crisis of the

“real” economy. Incentives and capabilities to strong environmental

(and social) actions may apparently weaken. The

urgency also reveals a sort of a crisis because of the difficulty

of meeting the challenges such as for instance reducing 20-

30% till 2020 or 60-80% to 2050 of CO2 emissions in Europe.

Furthermore we also face urgency in terms of time – we are

in the ‘build up phase’, when action is still possible or, better

say, the impact of acting now will be incomparably greater


The Open Meeting - a Platform to present the Synthesis Process of GECHS and IT

than later when e.g. new cities will have already been built.

Action now can be seen as a prevention of many undesired

lock-in’ and stimulation of alternative pathways instead of

pushing the development off its established trajectory. That

applies especially to the developing countries. The time span

we have for a timely action is 20-30 years from now which

is a tight schedule making radical system changes an inevitable


Within the Industrial Transformation research we

have learned that such transformations towards sustainability

are not easy for a number of reasons. Firstly there are

many areas of human needs such as nutrition, health, housing,

mobility which are often met through complex, global

and interlocking systems of provision, while being deeply

embedded in the national socio-cultural contexts. Secondly,

the spectrum of actors has broadened and numerous new

forms of participation make the decision making extremely

complex. The unstructured characters of the problems to

solve, insufficiency of policy strategies and instruments further

add to this complexity.

On the other hand we have already learned a great

deal about the way in which such radical changes possibly

take place and how to utilise this knowledge in policy making

and governance of change (see: Berkhout, IHDP Update

09). Now is the time for deploying of what we know about

sustainability transitions for the purpose of moving societies

in that direction.

The IT project of IHDP has, since its inception, always

been very much action oriented. Now, in the synthesis

phase, we would like to keep this spirit. We take stock of the

available knowledge about patterns in and governability of

radical change and given the challenges - we consider the

current position of societies with regards to sustainability

transition (s). We observe that while there are hopeful signs,

we are still far from being on the path that would lead us to

what could be called a sustainable world. We therefore contemplate

what possible actions are yet necessary in order to

move societies in a sustainable direction.

In doing so we reflect on the existence and the impact

of the so-called sustainability experiments, which are growing

in number in various parts of the world. Sustainability

experiments are planned initiatives to embody a highly novel

socio-technical configuration likely to lead to substantial

(environmental) sustainability gains. They are often local

initiatives which presence makes it increasingly possible

to envisage the emergence of new, more resource-efficient

socio-technical systems as the basis of more sustainable development

pathways (Berkhout et al., 2009). To better understand

the circumstances in which the experiments have

the power to transform exiting unsustainable incumbent

systems of provision, we apply insights from the growing

body of system innovation literature.

Single experiments however are not a sufficient precondition

for a change to take place (Geels and Schot, 2007).

They need to link up and reinforce each other and they need

favourable conditions to up-scale and transform the incumbent

systems. And we all know that the current systems of

provision (such as mobility or energy) are highly path dependent

and deeply locked-in and for that matter extremely difficult

to change. What we do see however is that the growing

urgency of global environmental change is putting significant

pressure on these systems, opening up yet few ‘windows

of opportunities’. Will societies recognise and utilise them?

Under what conditions and in what circumstances?

We hope to discuss these very complex questions

with the Global Environmental Change community during

a plenary round table on Tuesday morning at the upcoming

Open Meeting, which will take place in Bonn in April.

We also hope to be able to organise an IT side event.

During this meeting we will open up the floor for all ideas

that emerge from the current transition studies, which are

important to study further and in which there is interest

among the global change community. We particularly hope

to see there people who have been with IT for the past years

and who in various capacities contributed to the IT agenda.

We look forward to seeing again participants of our recent

very successful 2008 IHDP training on transitions that took

place in October 2008 in Delhi during the International Human

Dimension Workshop - IHDW.

"Zero Energy Home" in Bainbridge Island, Washington. Photo lifebegreen

46 IHDP Update 1.2009

Peruvian men meet to discuss water issues and regulation. Photo Daniel Bachhuber

Looking toward the

Future - The Earth


Governance Project

Ruben Zondervan, Executive Officer, Earth System Governance Project

The 7th Open Meeting of the International Human

Dimensions of Global Environmental Change, “The Social

Challenges of Global Change” also known as the IHDP Open

Meeting 2009, is the first large-scale meeting of the global

scientific community for the Earth System Governance Project

since its start as new, long-term research project. As the

newest project in IHDP’s portfolio of cutting-edge research

projects on the human dimensions of global environmental

change, the Earth System Governance Project (ESG)

will be strongly represented at, and actively involved in the

IHDP Open Meeting 2009. It will represented with its own

research, in joint activities with the other IHDP core projects

and the Earth System Science Partnership (ESSP) joint

projects, and last but not least, with the new IHDP scientific

initiatives that are currently in an advanced planning phase:

Knowledge and Learning for Societal Change (KLSC), and

Integrated Risk Governance (IRG).

IHDP Update 1.2009

New IHDP Projects and Initiatives – From Planning to Practice

A new IHDP Core Project

In October 2008, the IHDP Scientific Committee

approved the Earth System Governance Science and Implementation

Plan and appointed the ESG Scientific Steering

Committee, decisions marking the project’s formal start.

The idea for a research project on earth system governance,

though, is older and was given a strong impetus by the 2001

Amsterdam Declaration on Global Change1 in which the

ESSP declared an ‘urgent need’ to develop ‘strategies for

earth system management’.

The idea developed first into a concrete initiative and

finally in a new project in a consultative process that started

in 2004, when the IHDP Institutional Dimensions of Global

Environmental Change Project (IDGEC) entered its synthesis

phase and mandated a New Directions initiative to develop

proposals for a new research activity. A March 2007 report

from the New Directions initiative resulted in the mandate

from the IHDP Scientific Committee to draft a science plan

and develop ESG which builds upon and further develops the

legacy of the successful predecessor, the IDGEC project (for

more details see Young 2008, Biermann 2008).

Setting a Research Agenda

The IHDP Open Meeting 2009 is the world’s largest

international science conference dealing with social aspects

1 See http://www.sciconf.igbp.kva.se/fr.html


New IHDP Projects and Initiatives – From Planning to Practice

of global environmental change and as such, will determine

the state-of-the-art of human dimensions research. In addition,

the theme of the 7th Open Meeting of the International

Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change, “The

Social Challenges of Global Change,” responds to important

changes in the perspective of the scientific community on

the current challenges that we are currently facing and outlines

the new research agenda for the next decade in terms

of theoretical frameworks and methodologies as well as the

science-practice nexus and the policy relevance of social

science on global environmental change in general. IHDP

scientific projects are at the forefront of human dimensions

research and the new IHDP projects are also expected to set

both long-term research agendas as well provide overarching

guidance in their respective research areas.

The Earth System Governance Project provides just

such overarching guidance, as a common set of questions

for the study of earth system governance in Earth System

Governance: People, Places and the Planet. Science and Implementation

Plan of the Earth System Governance Project

(Biermann et al., forthcoming). This Science Plan was written

over the course of a year by an international committee

of scientists with interest and experience in the field of

governance. This scientific planning committee integrated

a variety of disciplines in the social sciences, including political

science, sociology, policy studies, geography, law and

economics, as well as expertise on all levels of governance,

from local governance to global agreements.

The scientific planning committee had three intense

drafting meetings and organised a variety of roundtables

and conference side-events so as to solicit the views from the

research community and from practitioners. Among other

things, the 2007 Amsterdam Conference on the Human Dimensions

of Global Environmental Change was held under

the theme of ‘Earth System Governance: Theories and Strategies

for Sustainability’ and served as the launch of ESG’s planning

process. 1 Draft versions of the Science Plan have been

reviewed, in parts or in whole, by a large number of experts,

from both academia and political practice. Since early January

2009, an advance unedited version of the science plan has

been online, available to the entire scientific community. 2

Crosscutting the Community

Governance was a crosscutting theme in IHDP’s

scientific portfolio long before this theme evolved and co-

1 See http://www.2007amsterdamconference.org

2 For more information and download: http://www.earthsystemgovernance.org

The Earth System Governance Project understands

the concept of earth system governance

as “the interrelated and increasingly integrated

system of formal and informal rules, rule-making

systems, and actor-networks at all levels of

human society (from local to global) that are

set up to steer societies towards preventing,

mitigating, and adapting to global and lo-cal

environmental change and, in particular, earth

system transformation, within the normative

context of sustainable development.” The notion

of governance refers here to forms of steering

that are less hierarchical than traditional

governmental policy-making (even though

most modern governance arrangements will

also in-clude some degree of hierarchy), rather

decentralized, open to self-organization, and

inclusive of non-state actors that range from

industry and non-governmental organizations

to scientists, indigenous communities, city

governments and interna-tional organizations.

(cntd on next page)

alesced with the idea of earth system governance to become

an IHDP core project. As a project, governance will be maintained

and strengthened in its crosscutting character. The

Earth System Governance Project explicitly attempts in its

research activities to cut across the entire Earth System Science

Partnership community. Most IHDP projects, as well

as the ESSP joint projects, address questions of governance

and institutions. ESG itself seeks to strengthen the knowledge

base on governance issues in the other global change research

programmes. Illustrative of this is an ESG presentation at the

IHDP Open Meeting 2009, which will highlight how the analytical

problems examined by ESG could be relevant for governance

in the coastal zone at a panel convened by the Land-

Ocean Interaction in the Coastal Zones Project (LOICZ).

Practically, ESG has addressed the need to collaborate

with and to cut across other global change programmes

through extensive consultations with these projects during

the drafting of its science plan. For example, the flagship activities

outlined in the science plan have been developed and

will be implemented in close consultation and collaboration

with the ESSP joint projects, the Global Water System Project

(GWSP), the Global Environmental Change and Food

Systems Project (GECAFS) and the Global Carbon Project

(GCP). The flagship activities illustrate the existing coop-

48 IHDP Update 1.2009

(cntd from last page) Based on this general

notion the Earth System Governance Science

Plan outlines a research programme organized

around five analytical problems with four

crosscutting research themes and four flagship


1. Analytical Problems. The five analytical

problems are the problem of the overall architecture

of earth system governance, of agency

beyond the state and of the state, of the adaptiveness

of governance mechanisms and processes

and of their accountability and legitimacy,

and of modes of allocation and access in

earth system governance—in short, the five A’s.

2. Crosscutting Themes. The Earth System

Governance Project will focus, in studying the

analytical problems of architecture, agency,

adaptiveness, accountability and legitimacy,

and allocation and access, on four crosscutting

research themes that are of crucial relevance

for the study of each analytical problem but

also for the integrated understanding of earth

system governance. These four crosscutting

research themes are the role of power; the role

of knowledge; the role of norms; and the role of


3. ‘Flagship Activities’ as Case Studies. The

Earth System Governance Project will advance

the integrated, focused analysis of case study

domains in which researchers combine research

on the analytical problems. At the same time,

integration of the findings from different issue

areas on each of the five analytical problems

will increase theoretical knowledge on the core

elements of earth system governance. Four

flagship activities of the Earth System Governance

Project have been identified: research on

the global water system, on food systems, on

the global climate system, and on the global

economic system.

IHDP Update 1.2009

New IHDP Projects and Initiatives – From Planning to Practice

eration and, at the same time, signal to all other projects a

continuing commitment to maintain the crosscutting role

of governance. Consultations have and will continue to take

place with the initiative on Knowledge and Learning for Societal

Change, which has a strong crosscutting character as


The IHDP Open Meeting 2009 will be attended by

about 1,000 international scientists, journalists and representatives

from the private sector, institutes, international

organisations and NGOs, as well as by government officials

and decision-makers from various fields. Among them will

be many of those involved in the IHDP core projects and

ESSP joint projects. The conference will therefore be an excellent

platform for interaction between the projects themselves

and between the projects and the global community

of global environmental change and sustainable development

researchers and practitioners. For the new projects,

the IHDP Open Meeting 2009 will also provide numerous

opportunities to explore long-term collaboration and activities

beyond the conference.

Towards a Global Community

The IHDP Open Meeting 2009 is a welcome opportunity

to further develop and extend existing networks as

well as to create new ones. In particular, the new projects,

addressing social challenges of global environmental change

that are of relevance to many other researchers worldwide,

will benefit from the presence of scientists who come from

various disciplines and research institutions all over the

world. Although the Earth System Governance Project,

for example, is social science oriented, its themes are also

relevant for natural scientists and the entire global change

research community. Research on earth system governance

will need to be an interdisciplinary effort that links all relevant

social sciences, but that draws on findings from natural

science as well. Diversity within the research community

together with strong networking is a prerequisite not only

for studying earth system governance but for all global environmental

change research.

For all its activities, the Earth System Governance

Project will thus need to rely on a large and dynamic network

that reflects the interdisciplinary, international, and

multi-scalar challenge of developing integrated systems of

governance to ensure the sustainable development of the

coupled socio-ecological system that the Earth has become.

To the end, it will spend substantial resources on building a

network that is designed to be as open as possible and that


New IHDP Projects and Initiatives – From Planning to Practice

follows the motto “People, Places, and the Planet”. The Earth

System Governance Network contains different categories

of affiliation:

First of all, there is the Earth System Governance Associate

Faculty. The Associate Faculty is a group of not more

than 100 individual scientists of high international reputation

who will take responsibility for the development of research

on particular elements of the Earth System Governance

Science and Implementation Plan. Although quality

and reputation are priorities surpassing any considerations

of quantity in terms of the Associate Faculty group, which

is, in any case, limited to 100 individuals, ESG is proud that

nearly 20 outstanding researchers from five continents have

already accepted the invitation to become Associate Faculty

members since the start of the project.

Secondly, the project recently launched the Earth System

Governance Research Fellows Network. Earth System

Governance Fellows are early to mid-level in their careers

and seek to link their own research projects with the broader

themes and questions advanced by the Earth System Governance

Science and Implementation Plan. Through a bottomup,

dynamic and active network, Earth System Governance

Fellows collaborate on research projects, debate ideas and

disseminate information on relevant events and opportunities

in the field.

While the above affiliations constitute networks of

people, the Earth System Governance Research Centres are

a global alliance linking these and other people to places.

The research centres support the implementation of specific

parts of the Earth System Governance Science Plan, for

example, by sharing responsibility for the analysis of one

particular analytical problem or one particular flagship activity.

Currently, there is a research centre in Amsterdam,

The Netherlands; in Chiang Mai, Thailand; in Colorado,

the United States; and in Stockholm, Sweden. Two more research

centres are in a planning phase.

In addition to the more formal affiliations to the Earth

System Governance Project outlined above, many researchers

all around the planet have set sail under the banner of the

relatively new concept of earth system governance. The fact

that a number of researchers not (yet) involved in the project

have submitted abstracts for the IHDP Open Meeting

2009 in which they already explicitly use the notion of earth

system governance and the concept of the 5 A’s (analytical

themes) is a joyous illustration hereof.

Activities at the IHDP Open Meeting 2009

The active involvement and strong representation of

the new projects is encouraged and generously supported by

the International Scientific Planning Committee of the IHDP

Open Meeting 2009 and by the IHDP Scientific Committee.

The new projects will have their own sessions in which they

will present their research agenda and research findings.

They will also hold both special events and meetings of their

Scientific Steering Committees or Planning Committees

back to back with the IHDP Open Meeting 2009.

To increase the visibility of the new projects and the

level of awareness, a joint session of the three new projects

is also planned. In this joint semi-plenary session, the ESG

and the KCSL and IRG initiatives will present an overview

of their projects including the respective scientific concepts,

the rationale for starting such a project, their planning processes,

and, in the case of the ESG, also a review of the first

months of implementation. The presentations will alternate

with short illustrative examples of how the overarching scientific

concepts and broad fundamental research questions

of the projects affect and guide individual researchers in

their research efforts.

With its decision to approve the Earth System Governance

Project, and the initiatives on Knowledge and Learning

for Societal Change, and Integrated Risk Governance,

the IHDP Scientific Committee has set the cardinal points

for IHDP’s scientific agenda. Now it is up to the new projects

to chart their courses to navigate the anthropocene. The

Earth System Governance Project science plan will serve as

the project’s compass and the IHDP Open Meeting 2009 as

the first beacon buoy on its scientific voyage of the coming

10 years.


Biermann, F. 2008. Earth system governance. A research agenda. In

Institutions and Environ-mental Change: Principal Findings, Applications,

and Research Frontiers, edited by O. R. Young, L. A.

King and H. Schroeder, 277-302. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Biermann, Frank, Michele M. Betsill, Joyeeta Gupta, Norichika Kanie,

Louis Lebel, Diana Liverman, Heike Schroeder, and Bernd Siebenhüner,

with contributions from Ken Conca, Leila da Costa Ferreira,

Bharat Desai, Simon Tay, and Ruben Zondervan. Forthcoming

2009. Earth System Governance: People, Places and the Planet.

Science and Implementation Plan of the Earth System Governance

Project. [online available at www.earthsystemgovernance.org]

Young, O. R. 2008. Institutions and environmental research. The

scientific legacy of a decade of IDGEC research. In Institutions

and Environmental Change: Principal Findings, Applications,

and Research Frontiers, edited by O. R. Young, L. A. King and H.

Schroeder, 3-46. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

50 IHDP Update 1.2009


of Global


IHDP Update 1.2009





7th International

Science Conference on the

Human Dimensions of

Global Environmental Change

26-30 April 2009

World Conference Center Bonn

UN Campus

Bonn, Germany



Contact Addresses

IHDP Secretariat

Hermann-Ehlers-Str. 10, 53113 Bonn,


ph. +49 (0)228 815 0600

fax +49 (0)228 815 0600



IHDP Core Projects


Earth System Governance

c/o Ruben Zondervan, Executive Officer

Earth System Governance International

Project Office (ESG IPO), Bonn,





Global Environmental Change

and Human Security

c/o Linda Sygna, Executive Officer

GECHS IPO, Oslo, Norway.




Global Land Project

c/o Tobias Langanke, Executive Officer

GLP IPO, Copenhagen, Denmark.




Industrial Transformation

c/o Anna J. Wieczorek, Executive Officer

IT IPO, Amsterdam, Netherlands.




Land-Ocean Interactions in

Coastal Zones

c/o Hartwig Kremer, Executive Officer

LOICZ IPO, Geesthacht, Germany




Urbanization and Global Environmental


c/o Michail Fragkias, Executive Officer




Joint ESSP Projects


Global Environmental Change

and Food Systems

John Ingram, Executive Officer





Global Carbon Project

Josep Canadell, Executive Director

GCP IPO, Canberra, Australia



Shobhakar Dhakal, Executive Director

GCP IPO, Tsukuba, Japan



Global Water Systems Project

Lydia Dumenil Gates, Executive Officer

GWSP IPO, Bonn, Germany




Global Environmental Change

and Human Health

Mark W. Rosenberg, Kingston, Canada



Monsoon Asia Integrated Regional


Frits Penning de Vries, Executive Director

MAIRS-IPO, Beijing, PR China


IHDP Scientific Committee


Oran R. Young

University of California,

Santa Barbara, USA



Sander van der Leeuw

Arizona State University, USA


Vice Chairs

Geoffrey Dabelko

Woodrow Wilson International Center

for Scholars, USA


Roberto Guimarães

School of Public Administration, Getulio

Vargas Foundation


Hebe Vessuri

Department of Science Studies, Instituto

Venezolano de Investiaciones Cientificas


IHDP- SC Appointed Members

Katrina Brown

University of East Anglia, UK


Ilan Chabay

University of Gothenburg, Sweden


Patricia Kameri-Mbote

International Environmental Law Research

Centre, Nairobi


Gernot Klepper

Kiel Institute of World Economics,



Liu Yanhua

China's Vice-Minister for Science


Elena Nikitina

Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia


Balgis Osman-Elasha

Higher Council for Environment and

Natural Resources, Khartoum, Sudan


Germán Palacio

Amazon branch of the National University

of Columbia


Henry Shue

University of Oxford, UK


Leena Srivastava

The Energy and Resources Institute


Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker

University of California, Santa Barbara,



IHDP-SC Ex-Officio Members


Thomas Rosswall, International Council

for Science, Paris, France.



Heide Hackmann, International Social

Science Council, Paris, France



Konrad Osterwalder, Rector, United Nations




Frank Biermann, Vrije Universiteit

Amsterdam, Netherlands



Karen O'Brien, University of Oslo,




Annette Reenberg, University of Copenhagen,




Andreas Rechkemmer, IHDP, Bonn,




Frans Berkhout, Vrije Universiteit Amstedam,




Jozef Pacyna, Norwegian Institute for

Air Research, Kjeller, Norway



Roberto Sanchez-Rodriguez, University

of California, Riverside, CA



Michel Loreau, McGill University, Montreal,




Carlos Nobre, Instituto Nacional de

Pesquisas Espaciais, Sao Paulo, Brazil



Joao M.F. de Morais, International

Geosphere-Biosphere Programme,

Stockholm, Sweden



John Church, Antartic CRC and CSIRO

Marine Research, Canberra, Australlia



Roland Fuchs, International Start Secretariat,

Washington D.C., USA


52 IHDP Update 1.2009

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