The Impact Initiative has closed. This website has now been archived and will no longer be updated.
The Impact Initiative has closed. This website has now been archived and will no longer be updated.

Safe and sustainable cities: human security, migration, and well-being

Research Partners:

Photo: joiseyshowaa/Flickr  licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

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Principal Investigator: Neil Adger. Lead Organisation: University of Exeter

Co-investigator: Tasneem Arefa Siddiqui; Ricardo Safra De Campos

This project seeks to incorporate migrant perspectives and sources of innovation into urban planning to build safer and more sustainable cities. The project represents frontier research in framing new migrant populations as sources of innovation and sustainability, and in using multiple methods to incorporate new migrant population perspectives into sustainable places.

The research addresses environmental sustainability by examining the environmental risks to new populations in cities, including exposure to environmental hazards and access to environmental services such as water. Its addresses poverty by examining social exclusion of migrant populations that are often invisible in policy and planning. It addresses conflict and security by conceptualizing the human security of migrant populations as their ability to create secure lives, overcome discrimination, and build social cohesion in destination areas.

The research design involves examining human security and overcoming exclusion with example groups in a rapidly expanding city in a low-income country; working directly with migrant populations and urban planners to generate new priorities; and learning lessons that can be generalized and applied across the Global South. The planned research involves planners in Chittagong in coastal Bangladesh and its new migrant populations, including some displaced because of environmental hazards, and ethnic minority groups. The research involves multiple methods: surveys of migrants focusing on their well-being, their sources of insecurity, and their potential to build attachment to sustainable places; photo-elicitation with both planners and migrants as participants; and deliberative workshops to build empathy between migrants and planners and designing new interventions. The research builds on and seeks new directions for the fields of human security, migration, urban planning, and development studies.

Visit the project website for more information. 

Read/download a paper on Urban community resilience highlighting key messages from research focusing on urban community resilience from the ESRC-DFID Joint Fund for Poverty Alleviation which features this project.

Further Resources:

The research process itself will generate impact as it involves co-production between researchers, migrants and planners and new empirical data on how migrant perceived wellbeing, place-attachment intersect with poverty, security and the environment. 

Who will benefit? The four groups are: 1) migrant populations in Chittagong in coastal Bangladesh; 2) urban and health planners in Chittagong; 3) Bangladesh government agencies responsible for economic development, environment, urban planning, water, housing and the rights of ethnic minorities; 4) international development stakeholders focused on migration, labour, and the implementation of SDG11 'to Make Cities Inclusive, Safe, Resilient and Sustainable'. 

How will they benefit? Migrant populations will benefit by changes that will recognise their contribution and potential for implementing sustainable development. City planners will benefit by having new information on critical social processes that are a potential resource for the implementation of sustainability. Bangladesh government agencies and international development agencies will benefit through the example of Chittagong on the role and potential for migrant communities to engage and participate in planning for sustainability. Bangladesh will ultimately benefit through increased social cohesion and security in urban centres and through exposure to national and global networks on urban resilience and human security.

What will be done? The migrant groups and urban planners will be directly engaged in the planned research, including deliberative processes that build empathy between their perspectives. Bangladesh government agencies will benefit from direct dissemination of the research, building on long-standing engagement by the research team in national policy processes. The international development community will be engaged in academic and policy routes, such as the Global Forum in Migration and Development.

Primary theme: 
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Project Status: 
Grant Category: 
Research Grant
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Fund Start Date: 
October 1st, 2017
Fund End Date: 
March 31st, 2019
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Fund Value: 
natural resources