Our Common Future Under Climate Change

International Scientific Conference 7-10 JULY 2015 Paris, France

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Tuesday 7 July - 17:00-18:30 UPMC Jussieu - Amphi Durand

2242 - Migration dynamics under current and future climate change

Parallel Session

Lead Convener(s): F. Gemenne (University of Versailles-Saint-Quentin, Guyancourt, France)

Climate migration and the politics of causal attribution: a case study in Mongolia

M. Benoit (Wuhan University School of Law, Wuhan, China)

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Climate migration and the politics of causal attribution: a case study in Mongolia

M. Benoit (1)
(1) Wuhan University School of Law, Wuhan, China

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Migration is always multi-causal. Ascribing a specific cause to migration, such as through the concept of “climate migration,” participates consequently to a political exercise – a play of shade and light where attention is focused on the responsibilities of certain actors rather than others. This is the case, this article argues, regarding internal migration in Mongolia, whereby, during the last two decades, nomadic or semi-nomadic herders as well as inhabitants from small urban centres come to settle in insalubrious suburbs of the capital, Ulaanbaatar. The Mongolian authorities are keen to highlight changing environmental conditions that can be traced to climate change: a change in precipitation patterns and an increase of average temperatures contribute to cause large loss of livestock during harsh winters (dzud). Yet, a multitude of other factors concurrently influence the migratory behaviour of Mongolia’s nomads: unregulated and unsustainable pastoral practices, the insufficient provision of basic and support services in the countryside, or, more generally, the lack of public support to the agricultural sector. Identifying concurring causes of migration suggests alternative response measures, and this article argues that Mongolia should urgently rectify its development policies to provide a room for each of its citizens.

How can migration support adaptation? Testing the climate change adaptation-migration nexus

J. Blocher (University of Liège, Sciences Po Paris, Liege, Belgium), F. Gemenne (Francois.Gemenne@uvsq.fr, Guyancourt, France), N. Perrin (University of Liège, Liège, Belgium)

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How can migration support adaptation? Testing the climate change adaptation-migration nexus

J. Blocher (1) ; F. Gemenne (2) ; N. Perrin (3)
(1) University of Liège, Sciences Po Paris, Liege, Belgium; (2) Francois.Gemenne@uvsq.fr, Observatory of versailles-saint-quentin-en-yvelines, Guyancourt, France; (3) University of Liège, Cedem, Liège, Belgium

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Empirical evidence shows that in the face of environmental and climate stress, migration is a common household strategy aimed at supporting basic needs and livelihood strategies (c.f. Foresight 2011). Policy makers commonly view adaptation measures as means to reduce migration pressures. But migration may also be seen as an adaptation strategy itself; as a way to reduce population pressures in climate-prone places while migrants already living outside of vulnerable areas provide important resources to help communities adapt and respond to climate change.

However, the application of the environment and climate change adaptation-migration nexus has not been empirically tested, nor has the policy apparatus needed to deliver this potential been developed and assessed. More research is needed if policy interventions are to enhance the positive effects of migration on adaptive capacities and distinguish potentially maladaptive effects. The objective of this conceptual and methodological paper is therefore to flag different possible choices that can be made to study and represent the relationship between migration and adaptation, employing insights from a recently developed and tested survey instrument for the 'Migration, Environment and Climate Change: Evidence for Policy' (MECLEP) project.

The first section defines adaptation as it relates to mobility in the broad sense, taking care to anchor the potential of migration to build resilience and increase adaptive capacities within complex and potentially maladaptive processes. Then insight is given into the current body of knowledge contributing to this important area of inquiry. The next section addresses the climate change adaptation- migration nexus as it relates to the three main vantage points: the individual migrants themselves, the community of origin, and the community of destination. Conceptual and methodological difficulties met to-date are explored, with a reflection on how different approaches are best utilized in empirical studies. Insights from the MECLEP representative household survey implementation and research strategy, recently tested in at least three countries (Haiti, Papua New Guinea, Viet Nam) are brought to the fore. A final section weighs the challenges and advantages of the MECLEP approach and suggests what solutions may exist to advance the project and the field of research overall.

 

Abrupt climate change superimposed to RCP 8.5 IPCC scenario : potential consequences for population migration

G. Ramstein (LSCE, Gif-sur-Yvette, France), D. Defrance (LSCE, Gif-sur-Yvette, France), C. Dumas (LSCE, Gif-sur-Yvette, France), S. Charbit (LSCE, Gif-sur-Yvette, France), J. Alvarez-Solas (Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain), F. Gemenne (University of Versailles-Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, Guyancourt, France), J.-P. Vanderlinden (University of Versailles-Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, Guyancourt, France)

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Abrupt climate change superimposed to RCP 8.5 IPCC scenario : potential consequences for population migration

G. Ramstein (1) ; D. Defrance (1) ; C. Dumas (1) ; S. Charbit (1) ; J. Alvarez-Solas (2) ; F. Gemenne (3) ; JP. Vanderlinden (3)
(1) LSCE, Gif-sur-Yvette, France; (2) Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain; (3) University of Versailles-Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, Observatory of versailles-saint-quentin-en-yvelines/cearc, Guyancourt, France

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From Paleoclimate studies we know much more about abrupt changes as Heinrich events which are huge amount of icebergs periodically spreading over North Atlantic. 

These events occured when the Laurentide ice sheet was unstable during glacial times. Recently, new mecanisms envolving ocean and cryosphere were developped to explain these instabilities [1, 2]. In contrast, Greenland and Antarctica were more stable during last glacial/interglacial cycles. Ongoing global warming has also for consequence to make Greenland and West Antarctica out of equilibrium. Therefore, in future climate, new abrupt climate changes linked with surges from the cryosphere may happen again. To investigate this issue we built 3 scenarios corresponding to about 3 meter sea level rise : one melting part of Greenland, another one without West Antarctica ice sheet and last one is a mix of both. These scenarios are superimposed to RCP 8.5 which is the most pessimistic one used by IPCC. They allowed us to diagnose major climate changes, especially in regions with high population density (Monsoon areas). 

We will first explain the methodology and the scenarios we used. These experiments have indeed, many common features with Heinrich events simulations in the past and housing experiments in the future [3]. Especially, the ITCZ shifts and its impacts on monsoon areas but also long term change in thermohaline circulation will be described. The consequences of such atmospheric and ocean perturbations will be also considered from a population migration point of view.

Most of the study focused on population migration only due to sea level rise, but here we developed an original approach using consistent climatic scenarios accounting for both sea level rise and induced climate changes.

 

[1]Alvarez-Solas J., Charbit S., Ritz C., Paillard D., Ramstein G., Dumas C., 2010. Links between ocean temperature and iceberg discharge during Heinrich events, Nature Geosci. 3, 122-126

[2] J. Alvares-Solas, Gilles Ramstein  PNAS "On the triggering mechanism of Heinrich events" PNAS vol. 108 no. 50  E1359–E1360

[3] RONALD J. STOUFFER et al, Climate Response to External Sources of Freshwater: North Atlantic versus theSouthern Ocean, JOURNAL OF CLIMATE, VOLUME 20, 436, 2007.

Unsettling Futures - Climate change, migration, and the immobility of climate politics

G. Bettini (Lancaster University, Lancaster, United Kingdom)

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Unsettling Futures - Climate change, migration, and the immobility of climate politics

G. Bettini (1)
(1) Lancaster University, Lancaster, United Kingdom

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The message that climate science and current emission trajectories are sending is clear: limiting global warming to 2°C is more and more an unlikely prospect. This predicament is hard to apprehend also because a 3 or 4 °C warmer planet is a largely unknown place, where socio-ecological spaces and relations look differently. Visualizing the impacts of such severe climate change – and of our responses to it – requires a radical imaginative effort.

If we take the possibility of 3 or 4°C warmer planet seriously, we can expect changes in the very ways in which humans understand, plan and experience their (im)mobility. And in effect, the question of how climate change will influence human migration has alimented a florid debate in the last decade. Academics have written reams about climate-induced migration, and policy negotiations have gathered pace. To be sure, various steps forwards have been taken. The securitizing drives once ‘justified’ by the fear of mounting waves of climate refugees have given way to the milder imaginaries of resilience, adaptation and development. While previously signified solely in terms of forced migration, the nexus climate change-migration is looked upon from a more comprehensive vista. Displacement, reduced mobility (with the issue of ‘trapped populations’), voluntary migration (preached as a legitimate adaptation strategy), planned relocation and resettlement are co-protagonists of today’s policy debates. The environmental determinism previously dominant is thereby gone, and more nuanced understandings of (climate) migration have prevailed.

Nonetheless, there is a striking dissonance between the paucity of those debates and the re-imagination necessary for formulating a politicized understanding of so called climate migration. While we should feel no nostalgia for the alarmist narratives of the past, the current mundane discourses anaesthetise the radical challenges posed by the climate-migration nexus. The prospect of unprecedented changes is dealt with through an attempt to reproduce “business as usual”. The emerging discourses contemplate displacement, trapped populations, migration as adaptation and planned relocation in ways that conciliate the agendas of dominant international agencies. The current approaches to climate migration are a re-proposition of the measures predominant in the fields of development, aid, migration, risk management and climate adaptation, which have proved functional to the re-production of neoliberal relations.

In other words, the emerging discourses foreclose the political by sterilizing the radical questions that might emerge. To the radical transformations associated to a 3 or 4 °C warmer planet, the “new” discourses on climate migration respond with ‘more of the same’, making sure that nothing can change even in the front of epochal changes.

Potential Migration Impacts in Extreme Climate Change Scenarios: A Systemic Perspective

C. Zickgraf (University of Liège / University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne, Liège, Belgium), P. Ozer (UNIVERSITY OF LIEGE, Liege, Belgium), F. De Longueville (University of Liège, Liège, Belgium)

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Potential Migration Impacts in Extreme Climate Change Scenarios: A Systemic Perspective

C. Zickgraf (1) ; P. Ozer (2) ; F. De Longueville (3)
(1) University of Liège / University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne, Center for ethnic and migration studies (cedem), Liège, Belgium; (2) UNIVERSITY OF LIEGE, Departement of environmental sciences and management, Liege, Belgium; (3) University of Liège, Cedem, Liège, Belgium

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With the target of limiting global warming to 2°C becoming increasingly difficult to achieve, policymakers and other decision-makers need to begin to plan ahead for adaptation to changes in climate associated with higher levels of global warming. The HELIX project (High-End cLimate Impacts and eXtremes), an EU FP7 project funded by the European Commission, seeks to provide a clear, coherent, internally consistent view of a manageable number of “future worlds” under higher levels of global warming reached under a range of physical and socio-economic circumstances. In this presentation, we specifically address how migration will fit into this picture. Assessing future migration under extreme climate change is not a facile task.  Often predictions of massive future displacements are based on the numbers of people living in a risk zone, without taking into account differentiated vulnerabilities and capacities for resilience. Moreover, predictions of massive human displacement in the future tell us little about the character, scale, or destinations of these projected movements. Therefore, in one of the tasks of HELIX, a multi-disciplinary team seeks to appraise future migration based on empirical investigation into how people have historically and are currently responding to environmental changes.

 

One of the critical insights revealed through HELIX thus far is the importance of people’s perceptions of climate change in determining their migratory responses and intentions.  Based on survey data from several West African countries, we compared populations’ perceptions of climate change with objective climatic data.  This comparison showed that most West African people are affected by what is externally considered to be ‘non-significant’ change. These results highlight that people are increasingly vulnerable as the ‘system’ (social, demographic, economic, environmental) in which they live becomes less and less able to resist different stressors, even those of limited magnitude. This finding has significant implications for migration: some of the surveyed people directly migrated in response to these changes and others plan to migrate if rainfall conditions worsen in the future.  As people’s migratory decisions and intentions are based on their own perceptions of climatic changes and their ability to withstand them rather external risk/resilience assessments, an increase in migration could occur faster than previously expected in West Africa in the coming decades, calling for new policy responses that have to include the resilience capacity of the entire ‘system’.

 

Much like policy must address the decreasing systemic resilience of vulnerable populations, future climate change-related migration policies and approaches would do well to consider human (im)mobility responses from a systemic perspective.  A second HELIX case study details the interconnections between various stressors (demographic, economic, environmental, etc.) and differentiated mobility patterns in a fishing community in Saint-Louis, Senegal.  As climate change exacerbates populations’ pre-existing vulnerability, it cannot be isolated from other pressures.  Likewise, displacement and voluntary migration cannot be separated from each other.  Findings show that ‘voluntary’ labor migration is intimately intertwined with other forms of mobility, including relocation and displacement.  Those fishermen who engaged in international migration were often able to preemptively relocate their households to locations safer from the imminent effects of climate change, decreasing their likelihood of future displacement.  These interrelated movements call for policy approaches that treat vulnerability and mobility – internal and international, voluntary and forced – holistically. As livelihoods dependent upon natural resources (fishing, agriculture, etc.) will become increasingly difficult to maintain with extreme climate change, people in the future may, in fact, be less able to move voluntarily without some degree of capital (human, social, financial).  If migration as an adaptation strategy is not facilitated, therefore, it may decrease populations’ capacities to deal with the effects of climate change and put them at risk of becoming ‘trapped’ or displaced in precarious conditions in the future.

 

Predicting the social impacts of climate change: Migration, environment and climate change in a world of global uncertainties

D. Ionesco (International Organization for Migration, Geneva, Switzerland)

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Predicting the social impacts of climate change: Migration, environment and climate change in a world of global uncertainties

D. Ionesco (1)
(1) International Organization for Migration, DMM/MECC, Geneva, Switzerland

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The links between global environmental change and migration have been explored at length, and existing academic and institutional evidence suggests that environmental migration is a reality; what is harder to foresee is what forms it will take in the future. Will more people be forcibly displaced due to climate change and natural disasters? Will more people resort to migration as a positive adaptation strategy in the context of climate change? Will people be able to migrate at all, or will they find themselves trapped in vulnerability?

This presentation will explore the difficulties around predicting future migration flows in the context of climate change, by presenting the complexity of the phenomenon and the multiple factors at play, and by examining the phenomenon in a more general context of uncertainties around local climate change impacts, around future demographic, social and economic change, adaptation measures to come, future policies that may or may not be taken, and, very importantly, individual perceptions, reactions, needs, and ability to leave or stay. The presentation will build on IOM's long term research, operational and policy experience in the area of environmental migration, and provide some concrete examples and recommendations for future research and action.

Migration associated with large-scale land acquisitions, land tenure and land degradation

D. Gharbaoui (University of Liège, Liège, Belgium), S. Vigil (Center for Ethnic and Migration Studies, Liège, Belgium), N. Pearson (University of Liège, Liège, Belgium)

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Migration associated with large-scale land acquisitions, land tenure and land degradation

D. Gharbaoui (1) ; S. Vigil (2) ; N. Pearson (1)
(1) University of Liège, Cedem, Liège, Belgium; (2) Center for Ethnic and Migration Studies, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium

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The proposed presentation intends to extend current debates on migration and climate change to emphasize the importance of land planning for environmentally-induced migration with a particular focus on current research on large-scale land acquisitions, land tenure and land degradation. The panel will use a bottom-up approach to explore examples of local and regional case studies on migration dynamics associated to land management. The first case study will focus on the issue of land tenure in the Pacific regional context, the second will analyze the issue of large-scale land acquisitions in Senegal and Cambodia and the last case study will illustrate how land degradation could be a major challenge in the context of environmentally-induced migration in Burkina Faso.

 

The need to focus on land in the particular context of climate-induced migration is crucial as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) emphasized in its fifth assessment report released in March 2014; past examples shows that environmental change can affect land rights and land use, and at the same time, change of land use has also become in turn drivers of migration. This is particularly relevant for the Pacific region where retreating from affected coastal areas through migration as an adaptive strategy to changes in environmental patterns has always been part of the Pacific Islands’ communities culture and practices. In the coming decades, the adverse effects of climate change in the region are likely to exacerbate both slow and sudden-onset environmental events threatening sustainable livelihoods and increasingly leading Pacific Islanders to use migration as coping method. However, there is a lack of study on land rights and land tenure systems that have been given little importance in the literary and policy debate on adaptation strategies in the context of Climate Change. It is crucial to address this dimension, particularly in the context of Pacific Islands, where in the majority of the countries, 80% of land is under customary tenure. Dalila Gharbaoui will study the role of land tenure in planned relocation exploring a sub-regional case study involving past examples of planned relocations in Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu. A major difficulty with this type of human mobility is the disarticulation of communities and social structures following the relocation process, particularly crucial in the context of the Pacific region where the link between individuals and their land, has been an extension of their identity for millenaries.

Another crucial study of land in the context of climate-induced migration  focusses on the case of policies aiming at biofuel production incentivising the acquisition of large tracts of land in the Global South, often overlooking the rights of local populations and leading to the forced displacement of whole communities. Through the example of climate change mitigation policies leading to “green grabbing”, we can see how the multi-causal links between climate change, migration and displacement are further complexified. The links with the category of environmentally-induced migration occur most visibly when such agro-fuel projects destroy the local land and the water resources, forcing people off their land in what could be seen as a form of tertiary displacement. Whilst those analysing the social consequences of land investments need to pay more attention to the migration outcomes, there is also a need for environmental migration scholars and practitioners to broaden the spectrum of their analyses. In order to better understand how the climatic agenda, through legitimising many recent land acquisitions has impacted local population movements in different ways, depending on particular historical and political circumstances, Sara Vigil will give field insights from both Senegal and Cambodia addressing more deeply those questions.

 

Another important aspect that will be discussed in the context of climate migration addresses the issue of land degradation. Based on her findings from field research conducted in Burkina Faso in 2012, Nakia Pearson will give insights on the migratory practices and adaptive strategies of farmers who have moved in response to the land degradation since the 1970s Sahel droughts in order to better define the tipping points of loss and damage, as well as how mitigation strategies may play into migration.

Protecting the rights of people displaced and at risk of displacement

N.M. Birkeland (Norwegian Refugee Council, Oslo, Norway)

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Protecting the rights of people displaced and at risk of displacement

NM. Birkeland (1)
(1) Norwegian Refugee Council, Partnerships and Poliy Department, Oslo, Norway

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Every year around the world, tens of millions of people migrate and are forcibly displaced by floods, wind-storms, earthquakes, droughts and other disasters. Many find refuge within their own country but some have to go abroad. In the context of climate change, such movements are likely to increase. National and international responses to this challenge are insufficient and protection for affected people remains inadequate. States and other duty bearers need to protect and assist people displaced or at risk of displacement by disasters and the effects of climate change. Assisting such people is not only a humanitarian imperative; it is an essential component of disaster risk management, climate change adaptation and development planning.

The impact of climate change is most acutely felt by individuals and communities with pre-existing vulnerabilities which often are characterized by the limited enjoyment of rights. Many of the most important protection challenges in disaster situations related to climate change are long-standing protection and human rights concerns which are brought to light and further exacerbated by the emergency. While people displaced within their own countries are covered by national laws, international human rights law, the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement and a few regional instruments, a serious legal gap exists with regard to cross-border movements in the context of climate change. These people are in most cases not refugees under international refugee law, and human rights law does not address critical issues such as their admission, stay and basic rights. Criteria to distinguish between forced and voluntary movements in the context of disasters have not yet been elaborated.

According to the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) protection is defined as: “… all activities aimed at obtaining full respect for the rights of the individual in accordance with the letter and the spirit of the relevant bodies of law (i.e. HR law, IHL, refugee law).” Such activities can be responsive, i.e. aiming to prevent imminent or stop on-going violations, remedial, i.e. aiming to provide redress (e.g. access to justice, reparation or rehabilitation) for past violations, or environment-building, i.e. aiming at creating the necessary legal and institutional framework, capacity and awareness that is necessary to promote respect for human rights and prevent future violations. Those affected by the disaster and climate change thus become individual rights holders who can claim rights from particular duty bearers rather than simply being passive beneficiaries and recipients of charity.

Displacement in the context of disasters and climate change cause and worsen protection risks such as sexual and gender-based violence; family separation; child trafficking; unequal access to assistance; discrimination in aid provision; enforced relocation; loss of personal documentation; land disputes and issues related to land and property rights. In view of this protection gap, there is a need for an inter-governmental process to address the challenges of cross-border displacement in the context of disasters and the effects of climate change.

 

Poster presentation

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Poster presentation
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