Below is a list of questions to serve as a starting framework for the discussion in this thread:
- What are the significant similarities and differences between environmental, economic and development-induced displacement and violence-induced displacement?
- How can legal and practical methods used to respond to the needs of refugees be used to respond to the needs on other displaced populations? What other methods need to be developed to respond to these needs?
- How does climate, economic and development- induced displacement intersect with each other and with violence- induced displacement? What impact does this intersection have on efforts to aid communities experiencing these forms of displacement?
All forms of displacement share, at their core, the simple fact that people are forced due to circumstances beyond their control to leave their homes, land and properties. Looked at one way, the cause of the displacement is of less significance than the manner of displacement is dealt with by those displaced and all relevant authorities with any influence on the matter. In this specific regard, non-traditional displacement demands non-traditional approaches, and one we work with and advocate for is the duty of the State, particularly in instances of climate displacement, to pro-actively plan for climate displacement and set aside land and designate it for the exclusive use by climate displaced people who are unable to access land resources once they are forced to flee their homes. New land for lost land, new homes for lost homes. Any thoughts anyone?
This topic comes at an unfortunate time in the US, in which Californians (both southern and northern) are having to respond to brush fire by evacuating their homes and/or living without power. As more areas of the US are vulnerable to climate-related catastrophic events, creative solutions are needed. People who have the resources to move into temporary housing (motels/hotels, with loved ones) do. Temporary housing might be offered or subsidized by the government.
Hotels and other temporary housing might support their communities and allocate a certain number of rooms afflicted by the event. That said, people without the financial means to prepare or respond to an emergency are often forced into displacement. And because affordable housing is built in areas where the land value is relatively less expensive, which is then likely to make it vulnerable to the elements (flood, fire, etc.), such persons inhabiting these buildings are at great risk.
I am also concerned about the psychological consequences of such forced displacements, and especially so for those individuals and families who have lost their homes and personal effects to fires, floods, etc.
Thanks for your comments, Paul. One thing we have been advocating for around the world is the need for governments to TODAY establish National Climate Land Banks as a planning tool to grapple more effectively with looming climate displacement. Such an approach would amass public land and re-designate it for the exclusive use of climate displaced people and communities. The land would be held in trust and kept out of the market, thus keeping prices low until people eventually settled there. This approach, among other things, also pre-supposes (quite correctly if we follow international law!) that people who are displaced because of climate change have rights, and that these rights need to be taken seriously, especially the broad spectrum of housing, land and property rights which are so central in this regard.
ALSO - Getting the United States (Republicans especially, but also Democrats and others) to embrace the idea of economic, social and cultural rights as core compenents of a functioning democracy that actually cares about its people is vital and something that Americans need to push for. The US stands alone as the only welathy country not to accept these rights and to have still failed to ratify the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
Thank you Scott for these interesting questions and inputs. It proves always very difficult to isolate one cause of displacement, as most movements are induced by multiple and concomitant causes. As you rightly mentioned, the human rights legal framework, applicable to all, contains most of the answers to these issues when it comes to handling internal displacement (right to decent housing, education, non discrimination etc. - largely reiterated in the guiding principles for IDPs) but also for international migrations, including the application of the principle of non-refoulement in certain cases of international displacement due to causes other than persecution. Development of national and regional jurisprudence in this area will be paramount in the future (see certain decisions in New Zealand regarding climate changes for example). Also, to what extent non access to social and economic rights can amount to actual persecution in specific cases, is a question that probably needs to be further researched.
A question to consider from one of our Conversation Leaders:
Why is it important for stakeholders to consider those forcibly displaced by non-violent factors?
This story is in today's NYT - the scale of the climate displacment crisis is beyond staggering - https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/10/29/climate/coastal-cities-un...
We know the likely scale of the problem, where it will manifest and what some of the key solutions are, and yet our leaders do virtually nothing to prepare adequately. Will we be forced to wait until tragedy strikes before we act, as has historically so often been the case?
....And now this on CNN's website just now - https://edition.cnn.com/2019/10/30/world/rising-sea-cities-study-intl-hn...
As Scott rightly guides our conversation towards climate-related risks to forced migration, it is worth looking into the case of Bangladesh. Every year, thousands of Bangladeshis are displaced due to the Monsoon floods. Because these displacements happen within their national borders owing to an extreme weather events (rather than conflicts), the affected population lacks any kind of international status or legal framework for support and rehabilitation. While the national government has developed a rights-based strategy to address this recurring phenomena, the lack of state capacity constrains the depth of impact of such a strategy.
Which leads to the question: how can we think about protecting climate-driven displacement that happen internally?
Some articles to consider:
Great question Sramanujam - One approach we take is simply that everyone, everywhere has pre-existing human rights to adequate housing and it is incumbant on all governments including Bangladesh to have the laws, policies and programmes in place to work towards this objective as quickly and as equitably as possible, even in a overarching situation of overcrowding, limited public resources, etc. Granted, this is easier said than done, especially in a country such as Bangladesh (where I have been working on climate change issues), but nonetheless even though the government of Bangladesh is barely at all responsible for the CO2 emissions that have caused climate change, they are responsible for dealing with the consequences of the effects of climate change, as are all other governments. We have carried out a number of projects in the country, and one of these involved in-depth research identifying a range of large land parcels belonging to the State that could be set-aside for the purposes of relocating highly vulnerable coastal dwellers who wished to move; while very crowded, there still is alot of empty land in the country! Also, we run a small project which enables people for around the world to donate funds to our One House, One Family at a time project (OHOF) which provides new homes to some of the most vulnerable climate displaced families from Sandwip Island who are allocated new homes that we provide the funds for around 50kms from Chittagong in a safe place. We have built eight houses thus far and in our thrid phase of OHOF we will aim to build another 12 homes, thus providing new homes to more than 100 people. We implement this project with our partners YPSA (Young Power in Social Action). We realise that this scale of housing provision can only ever hope to assist a miniscule portion of those in need, but it is a start and hopefully an approach that will spur much larger action by the State and International Community to find real, concrete, sustainable housing, land and property solutions for each and every of the hundreds of millions of people to be displaced by climate change.