Freedom of choice to migrate: adaptation to climate change in Bangladesh

Informa UK Limited
Publication Type:
Journal Article
International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology, 2020, 27, (7), pp. 652-661
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
© 2020 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Adaptation is an essential part of climate change policy. In areas where impacts are likely to be severe, migration is considered to be an adaptation option. In Bangladesh coastal areas migration due to climate change is contingent on people’s freedom of choice at individual and household level. Following Amartya Sen’s capability approach, we argue that there should be a line drawn between migrations by free choice versus forced migration. Sen’s capability approach focuses on the importance of people’s freedom of choice to act, and the ability to achieve what they consider valuable in their life. In this paper, we use an extensive empirical work engaging 22 focus groups discussions (8–12 individuals in each group) and 14 Key Informants Interviews in South-West Bangladesh to elicit how freedom of choice changes with the economic class and social status of an individual. Using these data we apply Sen’s capability approach to understand the role of the freedom of choice when considering migration as an adaptation option. We argue that the capability approach is essential in revealing a thin border between migration as a (planned) adaptation option and forced migration.
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