The University of Bologna at the forefront of the fight against climate change


Unibo researchers carried out a project in Senegal to understand the effects of climate change on migrations.

The University of Bologna has always been committed to fighting against climate change. For this reason, it lent its best scholars dealing with interdisciplinary research so that they could investigate the relation between extreme weather events and migrations. Unibo researchers worked in the framework of End Climate Change, Start Climate of Change - #ClimateofChange, which is part of the DEAR project (Developement Education and Awareness Raising) funded by the European Union. The EUROPEAID project will start a campaign targeting people under 35 to raise awareness of the effects of climate change on migrations and of the economic gap as well as the exploitation of resources. The aim of the research, which will be conducted in four countries (Senegal, Ethiopia, Guatemala, and Cambodia) is to understand how climate events like desertification, floods, and droughts intersect with mass movements of people hit by natural disasters. 

Professor Pierluigi Musarò from the Sociology and Business Law Department (coordinator of the project for the University of Bologna) has recently come back from a field work trip of two-weeks to Senegal.  Professor Musarò and his colleagues from other departments carried out a qualitative analysis that compared the current capital city of Dakar, and the old one of Saint Louis. During this research, they interviewed almost a hundred people from the most diverse backgrounds, like fishermen, migrants, activists, trade unionists, and university professors.  

This empirical research mainly shows that international migrations are significantly less than internal (in-country) migrations, and that climate change risks becoming a new label that legitimates the status quo, removing responsibility from any political decisions regarding structural inequalities. “Climate change has made real and recurrent what instead used to be out of the ordinary. We are dealing with a threat that has fuzzy lines. We have witnessed very different situations, from fishermen fearing the absence of fish for them to net, to miners surviving on salt extraction only. Climate change alone is not the underlying cause of any of these situations”, explains Professor Musarò. This field work trip to Senegal was crucial to understand the effects of these increasingly frequent weather phenomena allowing to discard the European narrative to give voice to the people experiencing these situations on a daily basis.

The University of Bologna is the only higher education organization of this project. Thanks to the inter-trans-disciplinary work Unibo is carrying out, it will join the other partners in advocacy and lobbying actions to have an impact on policy makers and stakeholders. Within this framework, the city of Brussels will host a number of debating contests that will feature some students at the University of Bologna as participants - the winners will visit the four countries involved in the DEAR project #ClimateofChange.

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