Large numbers of people are expected to leave their homes and communities in the coming years because of the effects of climate change. Some will leave as a result of the increasing severity and frequency of sudden-onset disasters. Others will move as long-term processes of environmental degradation intensify, including desertification and rising sea levels. Still others are likely to be relocated by their governments when the areas where they live are declared uninhabitable. While much remains unknown about the scale, timing and nature of such population movements, it seems clear that present normative frameworks will be inadequate to deal with large-scale future movements of people as a result of climate change. Are new international treaties or guiding principles needed for climate change-induced displacement, migration and resettlement?
On April 3, the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement hosted a discussion on the gaps in present normative frameworks and the pros and cons of coming up with new instruments for climate change displacement, migration and resettlement. Panelists included Brookings Nonresident Senior Fellow Jane McAdam, Senior Fellow Elizabeth Ferris, co-director of the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement and Michele Klein Solomon, permanent observer of the International Organization for Migration to the United Nations. Vincent Cochetel, representative from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, moderated the discussion.