Working group 10: Environmental Vulnerability, Justice, and Displacement in the Global South


Chairs: Mikko Ylikangas, Academy of Finland;

    Anja Nygren, University of Helsinki;

    Sirpa Tenhunen, University of Jyväskylä

Discussant: Tor Benjamisen, Norwegian University of Life Sciences


Environmental disasters have become more frequent and devastating in the midst of global climate change. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC 2017), the loss of human life and economic assets due to coastal and inland flooding represent two major climate-related risks in the global South. Millions of people are pronouncedly exposed to such hazards and harms. While these adversities are often understood as natural disasters, we argue that radically different approaches are needed to explore water-related disasters, and people’s vulnerability to them. This is crucial as the way these adversities, and people’s vulnerability to them, are approached strongly influence how response efforts are planned and implemented.

Our Academy-of-Finland -funded research projects have analyzed recurrent disasters and human-water relations in different parts of Latin America and Asia. Through detailed analysis of cases from Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, and Mexico, the presentations in this session provide new insights into multifaceted links between biophysical and sociopolitical processes related to political ecology of vulnerability, justice, and displacement. We analyze the diversity of actors, institutions, and networks, involved in formulation of environmental policies and climate change adaptation plans, and the role of discourses and representations in framing guidelines for environmental governance. The results of the studies show how climate change and altered hydrological regimes, together with shifting land use patterns and forms of resource extraction, have intensified water-related harms, endangered local livelihoods, and caused traumatic displacements. Together the presentations call for more just and inclusive forms of environmental governance.


Jelena Salmi: Amphibious politics: Koli fishers and the aftermath of cyclones in coastal Mumbai

Mohammad Jasim Uddin: Is environmental migration only environmental? Vulnerabilities, struggles, and adaptations of Aila-induced migrants in Bangladesh

Dayabati Roy: In the midst of climate change: Disasters, appropriation, and displacement in coastal India

Sirpa Tenhunen: Politics of climate change in India and Bangladesh

Mira Käkönen and Try Thuon: The political ecology of floods in Cambodia

Anu Lounela, Pujo Semedi, and Río Balgrave: Insecurity of rights to land, livelihoods, and water in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia

Anja Nygren, Miguel Diaz, Edith Kauffer, and Dora Ramos: Coping with water-related harms and searching for justice in Mexico