Disasters and displacement in a changing climate

FMR 49
May 2015

In light of the projected increase in the frequency and intensity of disasters associated with climate change, the number of people displaced in the context of disasters will inevitably rise. Existing national, regional and international legal regimes, however, currently respond to only some of the protection concerns arising from such displacement. Crafting an appropriate response will demand a cross-sectoral approach that addresses different forms of human mobility and which also recognises the local knowledge, values and beliefs of affected communities. FMR 49 includes 36 articles on ‘Disasters and displacement in a changing climate’, five articles on ‘Female genital mutilation (FGM) and asylum in Europe’, and five ‘general’ articles.

Contents

Børge Brende and Didier Burkhalter

While the international community has already been addressing many aspects of disasters, climate change and human mobility, in order to really make progress it is essential to bring together different strands of the discussion so as to develop a comprehensive response that also anticipates future challenges associated with climate change. The Governments of Norway and Switzerland are contributing to the development of future responses to disaster displacement through the Nansen Initiative.

Walter Kälin

Over almost three years, the Nansen Initiative consultative process has identified a toolbox of potential policy options to prevent, prepare for and respond to the challenges of cross-border displacement in disaster contexts, including the effects of climate change.

Koko Warner, Walter Kälin, Susan Martin and Youssef Nassef

In order to avoid displacement when possible, displacement and human mobility issues need to be better integrated within national and regional adaptation planning processes.

Justin Ginnetti

Although those seeking a single global prediction will be disappointed, today’s models of climate change- and disaster-induced displacement can provide a range of scenarios for specific countries, regions or hotspots.

Susan Martin

Researchers have much to do, not only to understand climate- and disaster-induced migration but also to transmit their understanding for the use of policymakers and practitioners.

Geremia Cometti

A movement of people is rarely explained by environmental or climatic factors alone. Therefore an analysis which does not take into consideration the cultural consequences of climate change for affected societies is incomplete.

William Lacy Swing

The key to successfully addressing the challenges of environmental, climatic and natural disasters is integrating migration concerns – including displacement – into all climate change, disaster risk reduction and development policies and frameworks.

Julia Blocher, Dalila Gharbaoui and Sara Vigil

West Africa has a very mobile population and high vulnerability to natural hazards. It also, however, has a number of regional cooperation agreements and may therefore be a useful testing ground for addressing cross-border disaster displacement.

Glaucia Boyer and Matthew McKinnon

Climate change has such significant implications for emergencies that sometimes the development facet of the challenge can be overlooked. Yet the impact of climate change induces systemic patterns of socio-economic erosion that also affect the dynamics of disaster displacement and that require parallel responses.

Tamara Wood

Formalised temporary protection arrangements in Africa could significantly improve access to territory and human rights for people displaced across borders by disasters. Such arrangements must adhere to states’ existing protection obligations.

Dawn Chatty and Troy Sternberg

Oman and Mongolia reflect the modern climatic and social challenges to mobile pastoral livelihoods.

Brent Doberstein and Anne Tadgell

While the potential for climate change-related displacement has been recognised for over 20 years, the international community has been slow to develop climate change-specific instruments to guide the relocation process beyond those that relate to displacement generally.

Jane McAdam

Placing contemporary deliberations about relocation within a longer historical and intellectual framework reveals unexpected connections and salutary lessons.

Gemma Sou

Post-disaster resettlement programmes can be unsuitable and ineffective, often exacerbating the vulnerability of people to the effects of climate change.

Scott Leckie and Ezekiel Simperingham

Global attention should place a primary focus on the application of best practice and the development of innovative initiatives to solve climate-related internal displacement, rather than on grappling with the far rarer movements of people across borders.

Isabela Piacentini de Andrade

Brazil is developing a long-term solution for filling a legislative gap affecting environmental migrants.

David James Cantor

There is a startling range of positive examples of national law, policy and practice all across the Americas that states have used to respond to the migratory consequences of disasters.

Volker Türk

Predictable measures are needed to provide protection for people displaced across borders by disasters, where there is currently a gap.

María José Fernández

How can the category of ‘climate refugee’ be considered within international law in the 21st century?

Sara Vigil

Climate change mitigation policies and ‘green solutions’, such as biofuels, are also creating displacement.

Jessie Connell

Stateless people and migrants are at greater risk of displacement and are less likely to receive assistance; in turn, environmental displacement (especially multiple migrations) heightens the risk of becoming stateless.

Matthew Scott

Strategic litigation to protect individuals at risk can usefully support higher-level protection initiatives.

Robert Stojanov, Ilan Kelman and Barbora Duží

Residents’ strategies are generally aimed at either protection from or adaptation to flooding. Large-scale migration from the floodplains of rivers has not been seriously considered, even in high-risk zones.

Lloyd Ranque and Melissa Quetulio-Navarra

The Philippine government’s ‘One Safe Future’ programme relocated disaster-affected poor families in areas where structures enabling opportunities are lacking.

Alice R Thomas

Experience in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan suggests that resettlement as a strategy for mitigating disaster-induced displacement can create significant protection risks.

Karen E McNamara

The ‘migration with dignity’ policy is part of Kiribati’s long-term nation-wide relocation strategy.

Daniel Fitzpatrick

The adaptive characteristics of customary land systems deserve greater recognition in disaster or climate change policy frameworks.

Hannah Fair

Focusing on climate-induced migration, rather than mitigation, can be at odds with grassroots demands and can make the future uninhabitability of some Pacific Islands appear as a foregone conclusion.

Ximena Flores-Palacios

The voices of scientists, academics, politicians and development practitioners dominate the climate change debate, yet local knowledge, values and beliefs are essential elements of navigating the way forward for affected communities.

Bruce Burson and Richard Bedford

Voluntary adaptive migration across international borders will be a critical component of an overall adaptation strategy for at-risk individuals and households in the Pacific region in order to increase their resilience to natural hazards and prevent future displacement.

Mi Zhou and Dorien Braam

Communities can strengthen their resilience by integrating disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation and poverty reduction measures.

Himani Upadhyay, Ilan Kelman and Divya Mohan

Sea-level rise threatens communities of the Lakshadweep islands. But what happens when belongingness, religious beliefs and the identity of being an islander make them stay?

Soumyadeep Banerjee, Suman Bisht and Bidhubhusan Mahapatra

A starting point for adapting to longer-term climate change could be adaptation to short-term climate variability and extreme events. Making more informed choices about the use of remittances can enhance the adaptive capacity of remittance-receiving households.

Jessica Marsh

Many climate change-affected communities have already been using migration as a means to adapt to and withstand the challenges to their livelihoods and security. Strengthening of existing protections for all migrants is clearly advantageous in the context of climate change.

François Gemenne

The concept of ‘environmental refugees’, or ‘climate refugees’, has been progressively abandoned, as having no legal basis.  I want to argue that there are good reasons to use the term.

Alexander Betts

The Nansen Initiative has highlighted significant questions about how the international community should collectively think about displacement and mobility issues relating to natural disasters and climate change, and how to improve the governance thereof.

Colleen Swan, Chief Albert P Naquin and Stanley Tom

Tribes in coastal Alaska and Louisiana in the United States are among the communities at immediate risk of displacement due to climate change impacts.

General articles

Carlos Maldonado Castillo

The 30th anniversary of the 1984 Cartagena Declaration offers the opportunity to consider the achievements of the Cartagena process and the specific characteristics that make it so remarkable.

Vladimir Makei

Trafficking of people for their organs is an emerging transnational crime that has failed to receive sufficient international attention.

Rana B Khoury

Among refugees in Jordan, utter boredom – the result of restrictions on mobility, prohibitions on employment, and feelings of marginalisation – is an unmistakable source of anguish. 

Karen Hargrave

Distrust between refugees and their state of origin must be given due consideration in institutional approaches to repatriation of refugees, on the Thai-Burma border and in other refugee contexts worldwide.

Piers Beirne and Caitlin Kelty-Huber

Harm to animals resulting from forced migration of people is intricately interwoven with and contingent upon the simultaneous suffering of humans.

Additional articles

Fadela Novak-Irons

With some 71% of female EU asylum applicants from FGM-practising countries estimated to be survivors of this harmful traditional practice, it is time to accept that this subject demands greater scrutiny and a more dedicated response.

Christine Flamand

Asylum authorities in the European Union need to establish better procedures to help address the specific vulnerabilities and protection needs of women and girls who have undergone or are at risk of female genital mutilation.

Pierre Foldes and Frédérique Martz

The ‘medicalisation’ of female genital mutilation should be denounced on two counts.Firstly, it is usually anatomically more damaging and, secondly, it goes against the ethical basis of the medical profession.

Elise Petitpas and Johanna Nelles

The new Istanbul Convention provides a powerful tool for more effectively guaranteeing the protection of asylum seekers at risk of gender-based persecution and at risk of FGM in particular.

Saido Mohamed and Solomie Teshome

Former refugee women are now working as professional educators among immigrant and refugee communities in Finland to tackle ignorance of the impact and extent of female genital mutilation/cutting.

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