Seminar: ‘Responding to climate risks through resettlement prospects for just adaptation or impoverishment? – Dr Fiona Miller

Dr Fiona Miller will be presenting an interesting seminar on her research on Tuesday, 30th August. All are welcome.


The forced displacement of people to make way for infrastructure, dams, urban expansion and industrial zones has been an inherent part of modernist development. Resettlement, despite improvements in impact assessment and compensation mechanisms, tends to lead to the impoverishment of those forcibly resettled, essentially because community bonds, connections to place and livelihoods can not be easily restored once disturbed. Considering the history of injustice experienced by those forcibly resettled, the spectre of large-scale displacement due to climate change presents a formidable humanitarian challenge.

Planned resettlement is now actively being pursued as part of climate change adaptation strategies. In responding to climate risks through planned resettlement people are likely to confront new risk landscapes. Considering this, how can the risk of impoverishment be avoided in planned adaptation? What prospect is there for planned resettlement to be pursued in a way that reduces vulnerability? This seminar begins to consider these difficult questions as part of the conceptual framing of new research on climate-related resettlement. A review of the literature on climate-related displacement and previous experience with forced resettlement will be discussed, highlighting the negotiation of risk and power inherent in resettlement. The seminar will focus in particular on the experience of Vietnam, one of the most vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change, where major resettlement projects in flood-affected and coastal areas in the Mekong Delta are already being implemented. The seminar will conclude by reflecting on what prospects exist for more just approaches to resettlement in adaptation planning.

When and where: 12–1pm | Tuesday 30th August | W6A 107


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Dr Fiona Miller conducts research from a political ecology perspective on the social and equity dimensions of environmental change in the Asia Pacific region, notably Vietnam and Cambodia, as well as Australia. She specialises in social vulnerability, society-water relations, adaptation and social impact assessment. Fiona is currently undertaking research on the role of resettlement in adaptation to climate change in the Mekong region. Her research on climate-related resettlement builds on previous work she has done on vulnerability assessment and adaptation planning in Cambodia and Vietnam.

Fiona is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Geography and Planning, Macquarie University, Sydney, where she teaches into the development studies, social impact assessment and human geography programs. She was recently hosted by the School of Global Studies, Gothenburg University, Sweden as a visiting researcher (March-June 2016). Prior to joining Macquarie University in 2012, Fiona was a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Resource Management and Geography at the University of Melbourne (2007-2012), where she undertook research on adaptation in the health and water sectors in Vietnam and Cambodia, the social dimensions of water planning in Melbourne, and vulnerability to extreme heat. Prior to this she was a Research Fellow in the Risk, Livelihoods and Vulnerability Programme at the Stockholm Environment Institute (Stockholm) (2004-2007). Fiona completed her PhD in the Division of Geography, the School of Geosciences at the University of Sydney in 2003.


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