Arctic Indigenous Peoples, Displacement, and Climate Change: Tracing the Connections
For thousands of years, Arctic peoples have migrated in response to changing environmental conditions. But today climate change is putting unprecedented pressure on those indigenous communities. Temperatures are rising much faster in the Arctic than in the rest of the world, raising questions about the extent to which significant numbers of indigenous people will move away from their traditional habitats and whether they will be able to maintain their cultures and livelihoods. For the 400,000 indigenous people in the Arctic these are not only questions of adaptation but also of culture and survival.
On January 30, the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement explored the relationship between climate change and population movements in the Arctic through three recent case studies. Robin Bronen, executive director of Alaska Immigration Justice Project, spoke about her research on indigenous communities and resettlement in Alaska. Susan A. Crate, associate professor at George Mason University, discussed indigenous communities in Siberia. Ilan Kelman and Marius Warg Næss, senior research fellows at the Center for Environmental and Climate Research, Oslo (CICERO) presented their research on the impact of climate change on indigenous inhabitants of the Scandinavian Arctic via video. Senior Fellow Elizabeth Ferris, co-director of the Project on Internal Displacement, provided introductory remarks and moderated the discussion.
Read the related paper and case studies:
- A Complex Constellation: Displacement, Climate Change and Arctic Peoples
- Climate-Induced Displacement of Alaska Native Communities
- Climate Change and Human Mobility in Indigenous Communities of the Russian North
Susan A. Crate
- Climate Change and Displacement for Indigenous Communities in Arctic Scandinavia
Ilan Kelman and Marius Warg Næss
Robin Bronen Presentation
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[To speak out against environmental wrongs] is seen as legitimate, [even in a Russia where Putin has clamped down on dissent]. People are talking about their personal well-being and their local well-being, but also the well-being of Mother Russia. Putin himself has made such overtures, touting the amazing range and richness of Russia's natural wealth and the environment. [And the Far North is integral to Russia's identity and Putin's ambition] to be an Arctic power par excellence.