Sea-level rise and everyday lives in small island states

This project investigates the effects of sea-level rise, and associated policies, on the everyday lives of communities in Fiji and the Maldives. In the past two decades, sea-level rise has become a major concern for researchers, decision-makers, affected communities and climate change campaigners. Yet, there is little understanding of how it is affecting people’s routines, activities and aspirations on a day-to-day basis. The everyday matters because it is central to human experience and the ways that people make sense of their lives and imagine their futures.

Our four key research questions are:

  1. How are the direct impacts of sea-level rise influencing islanders’ everyday lives and anticipated futures?
  2. How do ‘protect, accommodate and retreat’ policy responses further shape day-to-day practices and perceived futures?
  3. In what ways do island community members negotiate, accept or resist policies through their everyday activities?
  4. Which aspects of policy responses to sea-level rise improve everyday lives, and which are producing adverse outcomes?

Fiji and the Maldives are two small island developing states where the direct impacts of sea-level rise are of significant concern, and where governments are developing national policies and implementing climate change adaptation responses. In exploring these country contexts, the project aims to illuminate the everyday and geographically-situated nature of these responses, and to elicit insights into how the everyday lives of island communities are changing.

The project is a collaboration between the Universities of Melbourne and Queensland in Australia and the Universities of Manchester and Reading in the UK. It is funded by a three-year Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Grant.