The role of remittances in climate change adaptation. A case study from a remittance dependent economy

PhD Project: Laura Wloka


Combatting global warming is the biggest challenge of this century. While in some industrial countries people can expect compensations for losses, in the majority of the developing countries people are left alone with huge damages or investments into adaption. The inability of governments to address socio-economic, infrastructural and environmental problems is leading many households to implement autonomous adaptation measures to alleviate the impacts of global warming. UNEP's annual adaptation gap reports show that adaptation plans are now in place in many countries, but finance is still lacking. This is where private financial sources like remittances come in: to close the adaptation gap and to create translocal resilience. Over the last two decades, remittances flows have accelerated steadily and serve as an important additional income for many households worldwide. 

Considering the great potential of remittances, development agencies are interested in ways to enhance the impact of remittances. In addition, more and more governments have specific programmes to increase the potential of remittances in the long term and in a sustainable manner. Remittances are certainly no panacea: neither can they resolve the underlying deficiencies in developing countries, nor can they change exclusive and dysfunctional institutions. However, they can reduce environmental vulnerability and enhance translocal resilience. While their impacts in many fields are well explored, the use of remittances for climate change adaption has been neglected in the literature. Moreover we know very little about how international donors and governments use the potential of remittances for climate adaptation.

As remittances not always have positive effects, we need a more differentiated view on the linkage between remittances and climate change adaptation. This PhD project analyses the conditions under which remittances can enhance the capacities of households to adapt to climate change as well as how governmental actors and international donors can use the potential of remittances for adaptation. The project will employ a mixed methods research design combining household surveys, interviews with government representatives and focus group discussions.