Environment mobility in the digital age

Environment mobility in the digital age: the case of Bangladesh

Wednesday 11 November, 2020 – Wednesday 11 November, 2020
3:00 PM – 5:00 PM


Part of the Hazard, Risk and Disaster (HRD) Research Seminar Series 2020-21.

This presentation centres on the role of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in shaping (the study of) environmentally-related human mobility.

Dr. Ingrid Boas will discuss how the increasing use of ICTs by affected communities allow for big data techniques to study environmental migration dynamics and how these are shaping our understanding of human mobility patterns in potentially misleading ways and instead require more grounded approaches. Secondly, in offering a more grounded approach, Dr Boas will discuss how the social networks and the networking of migrants, and through that their migration trajectories, are being shaped by mobile technologies through the case of environmentally-related human mobility in Bangladesh. This case, and the issue of environmentally-related migration more generally, provides new insights as it has a different context to most of the cases thus far examined to study the implications of ICTs on migration. In contrast to those studies, it is about internal movement. Such movement is highly dynamic with people frequently visiting places of origin or even trying to move back, and with travel routes being relatively safe and well known. It is less about smart phones and social media, as many of the most affected only have access to a mobile phone without internet. In that context, this study shows that the use of mobile technologies does not necessarily lead to a drastic shift of social network structure towards the proliferation of weak ties. Rather, in this case, the impact is on how (often existing) ties that are geographically dispersed are utilised to enable mobility in a more coordinated manner, making mobility decisions more reflected on and to an extent less risky. Finally, Dr Boas will also discuss what these findings imply for the nexus between environmental change and human mobility more generally.

About the speaker

Dr. Ingrid Boas is an associate professor at the Environmental Policy Group at Wageningen University. Ingrid’s research is based in the fields of environmental change, mobilities, and governance, with a focus on the topic of environmental/climate change migration. She has been awarded a Veni grant to study environmental migration in the digital age, which she works on together with other related projects on environmental/climate (human) mobilities, and the role of information and communication technologies in climate governance.

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