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.
Former Brookings Expert
Scientia Professor of Law and Director, Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law - University of New South Wales
Permanent Observer to the United Nations
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[On the Global Climate Action Summit] I think that this summit’s been very useful. It’s a demonstration of activism, it’s a demonstration of will, it’s a demonstration of engagement by all sorts of sub-national players, and I think that’s all been tremendously useful. But, it doesn’t fill the gap of the absence of the United States at a national level. The US federal government can drive action all around the entire country, not just state-by-state.