New regional formations

Rapid environmental change and migration in coastal regions of Ghana and Indonesia

Project staff:
Michael Flitner (project management), Johannes Herbeck

01/2014 - 12/2016

Volkswagen Foundation

Coastal regions are at the center of two closely related key challenges for today's societies: environmental change and migration. They are traditionally both origins and destinations of migratory movements. At the same time, coasts are continuously transformed by geomorphological, climatic and other forces. This ongoing change is expected to increase with global warming and and its secondary effects. The project focuses on two coastal regions: the region of Semarang in Central Java (Indonesia) is threatened by land subsidence and flooding; the district of Keta (Ghana) is experiencing ongoing, heavy erosion along the coast.

The research project asks how environmental changes and respective risk cultures intersect with evolving migrant trajectories, economic strategies of households and policy responses to create different sets of constraints and opportunities for "new regional formations". These are characterised by an array of different actor sets, negotiation arenas, policies and concrete adaption measures that are constituted along the environmental change. The concentration on the regional level reflects the now widely accepted idea that regions have significantly grown in importance as hubs of economic and political development and as interpretive frameworks shaping individual and collective identities.

The research is carried out in a fully integrated design. All subprojects (Environmental changes - Risk cultures - Migrant trajectories - Economic strategies - Policy responses) will deal with the situation in both regions. Accordingly, the aim will be a high degree of consistence in methods and research design.

Project partners:

  • artec Sustainability Research Center, University of Bremen (Project coordination)
  • Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology (ZMT), Bremen
  • Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities (KWI), Essen
  • Institute of Geographical Sciences, Freie Universität Berlin