Researching the climate change-modern slavery nexus in the Cambodian construction industry


'Climate change and slavery: the perfect storm?' – this was the prescient headline of an article in The Guardian (2013) which called for more international conversation and action on these urgent and interconnected threats to environmental and human security.

Our study forwards this call by examining the inter-linkages between climate change, different axes of structural inequality (e.g. gender, age), and vulnerability to trafficking into modern slavery.

The project asks who is most at the 'receiving end' of climate change, is most likely to enter into modern slavery, and who has fewer capabilities and resources than others to adapt to climate change in alternative ways?

Our research combines qualitative interviews with construction industry informants and victims of modern slavery working in brick-kilns with agro-ecological profiling, interviews and a quantitative household survey in brick-kiln sender villages. The project team will also analyse relevant longitudinal secondary data (Cambodia Socio-Economic Study 2014).

The aim is to improve understanding of what Kevin Bales, co-author of the Global Slavery Index, has called the 'deadly dance' of environmental destruction and modern slavery.

The research (2017-2019) is funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council and Department for International Development (ESRC-DFID) Development Frontiers Research Fund.