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Living Deltas Research Hub

Funded by UKRI/GCRF  

Working in the Mekong and Red River Deltas in Vietnam and the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna Delta in India and Bangladesh, the Living Deltas Research Hub involves a team of over 120 members from more than 20 academic institutions in the UK, India, Bangladesh, and Vietnam, including 50 postdoctoral researchers and 10 international PhD studentships. It is led by Newcastle University. At Northumbria University, Prof Matt Baillie Smith (CI and Lead for Work Package 1) and Dr Oliver Hensengerth (CI) work with Dr Laura Beckwith (PRDA), Dr Chamithri Greru (PDRA), and Angelica Ribichini (PhD student). The team will be joined by a second PhD student from Bangladesh in September 2021, funded by a Northern Bridge studentship.  

River deltas comprise only 1% of global landscapes but support more than half a billion people. Considered to be important global food baskets, they are highly vulnerable to climate change, food insecurity and environmental degradation. Migration, poverty, a lack of educational opportunities, and a lack of skilled employment presents challenges especially for young people. Yet, as UNICEF pointed out, young people are key actors in running educational programmes for environmental protection or implementing adaptation and mitigation projects for climate change. This means we need to take young people’s diverse knowledge, ideas, experiences and hopes seriously, both in policy work and in research. 

To co-develop responses to the challenges facing young people in deltas, the team at Northumbria is working with young people and youth organisations across all of the Hub delta regions to do four things:

  • understand the ways in which young people interact with their environment
  • explore how young people frame environmental and climate change
  • identify and analyse the diverse ways young people are engaged in organising and charting a way forward for their delta regions
  • identify opportunities for policy makers to learn from youth innovation and action in supporting locally led adaptation and mitigation.  

Key methodologies include peer researcher training and co-developing a participatory mapping methodology. We are designing these to understand in more detail – through interactive and iterative work with young people – how young people experience environmental change in their spaces, how they relate to these changes in their daily lives, and how they envisage their future in deltaic landscapes. In this way, we aim to generate data that can help policy makers, stakeholders and communities themselves recognise and understand young people’s experiences and capacities, and engage them in more effective ways in building more sustainable delta futures.  

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