Dr Ximena Flores-Palacios was born in Bolivia, South America and early on in her career in economics, she has had a focus on developing issues and poverty, where people are at the centre of the analysis.
Ximena worked throughout Latin America and Europe for national organisations, non-governmental organisations and for the United Nations for 15 years before moving to New Zealand with her family 10 years ago.
Ximena says AUT was the best option for her to complete a Doctor of Philosophy because of the opportunities to exchange ideas and receive support, especially within the Pacific community.
Her doctoral thesis explored the link between climate change and migration in the Pacific, with Samoa as her case study. She combines Pacific theoretical frameworks and methodologies with modern scientific research to gather empirical research on the ‘middle sized’ Samoa to understand how climate change is affecting people's lives and how this impacts migration.
"Climate change is a really important issue and Pacific countries are the most affected by it. Climate change is not something that is going to happen tomorrow, it’s happening today.
"Its time to listen to people's voices. There’s a lot of information and research where we can hear the voices of academics, politicians, developing practitioners but not the people really affected by climate change.”
With support from the Ministry of Natural Resources in Samoa, Ximena selected a representative village (Lotofaga) and her research was conducted between 2012 and 2013. Ximena used the method of talanoa to find out the village resident's perspectives on climate change and how it effects their lives. Ximena also talked with Pacific people in Auckland, New Zealand.
"Although climate change is very much localised, it also effects the rest of the extended family here in New Zealand as well.
"I've combined the information gathered from the people with scientific data about the extent of climate change and economic, social and demographic information."