Using government resettlement projects as a sustainable adaptation strategy for climate change

Yinru Lei, C. Max Finlayson, Rik Thwaites, Guoqing Shi, Lijuan Cui

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    26 Citations (Scopus)
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    Given that increasing migration has been addressed as a major consequence of climate change, a growing number of scholars suggest that the planned relocation of people or Government Resettlement Projects (GRPs) should be included in climate change adaptation. This paper reviews the status of climate change and environmentally induced migration in China, and then presents an empirical case study in Shangnan County in northwest China, where a specific GRP called the 'Massive Southern Shaanxi Migration Program' (MSSMP) has been initiated in response to climate change-related impacts. The results showed that the MSSMP helped local residents to adapt better climate change by reducing exposures to risk, enabling mobility, providing financial incentives, raising living standards, and improving emotional status. Furthermore, the MSSMP added additional benefits for migrants compared with traditional GRPs by respecting voluntary participation, preparing for future risks, and reducing social isolation via a short relocation distance. However, GRPs could also be seen as a maladaptation to climate change because they disproportionately increase the burden on the most vulnerable community members, such as those who are financially disadvantaged, new migrants, and people who are left behind. The paper further suggests that the GRPs should be designed by involving multiple adaptation strategies as supplements for GRPs, and broadening the political schemes to consider the special needs of vulnerable groups. This study contributes to an understanding of the roles of GRPs in sustainable climate change adaptation, thereby facilitating the design, organization, and implication of future similar programs.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number1373
    Pages (from-to)1-16
    Number of pages16
    JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - 04 Aug 2017


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