To avoid climate risk, a state may resettle an entire community to another location within the country. This is known as planned relocation (PR), a government-led strategy undertaken to guard against the impacts of climate change. PR in Europe remains largely framed as an ad hoc response in post-disaster settings. But this could change with the increased risks of natural disasters. The EU-funded ITHACA project will investigate how current PR and climate adaptation policy and governance landscapes should integrate PR into long-term resilient development in Europe.
As climate change impacts intensify, the number of people moving both within and across borders is likely to increase. Whilst research has focused on individual- or household-level migration, much less is understood about planned relocation (PR) - a government-led strategy in which a community is resettled to another location within the country to avoid climate risk. PR in Europe remains largely framed as an ad hoc response in post-disaster settings. Yet, as climate change is projected to increase coastal and river flood risk, governments will be required to shift from supporting emergency solutions to managing strategic approaches to protect their citizens.
The ITHACA project aims at uncovering and theorising the distinct institutional and governance challenges in the anticipatory and strategic employment of PR in a changing climate. By focusing on the interface between traditional approaches to PR and transformational adaptation strategies, it will identify how the current PR and climate adaptation policy and governance landscapes should be innovated to integrate PR into long-term resilient development in Europe. ITHACA will employ a ‘Comparative Case Study’ approach to study the emerging policy and practice of PR as adaptation in the Po river basin (IT) and identify enablers and constraints for transformational change. It will rely on a three-pronged data collection strategy consisting of historical analysis, content analysis and interviews with stakeholders at the basin, national and international levels.
Based on the literature on transformational adaptation and the evidence from the Italian case study, ITHACA will develop a conceptual framework for governing climate-induced PR, which will be tested and refined in the shadow case of government-led relocation in the Austrian upper Danube. The project seeks to energise academic attention on PR as a form of human mobility in the context of climate change, and stimulate discussion around its strategic employment in Europe.
21 November 2023 Bocconi University, online
02 October 2023 Montreal, Quebec, Canada