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Climate change and displacement in Panama: Applying the Peninsula Principles

A new [Displacement Solutions] report applies the 2013 Peninsula Principles on Climate Displacement Within States for the first time to a specific case of climate displacement along the Gunayala coastline of Panama. DS sent a two-person mission comprised of Colombian human rights lawyer Carlos Arenas and renowned Dutch photo-journalist Kadir van Lohuizen to Panama in April to work with the Gunayala indigenous community which is already experiencing large-scale displacement because of climate change. Displacement Solutions

Nauru ambassador: moral voice of island states must be heard

Marginalised small island voices key for credible Paris deal, says ambassador Marlene Moses. Global attitudes towards small island nations must be overhauled if the UN’s climate summit is to come to a credible conclusion, according to Nauru’s UN ambassador Marlene Moses. … But the spectre of mass migration is unlikely to spur action at an international scale, said Moses, who said that raising the relocation issue at the UN climate talks was unlikely to help their cause. “Already the signs are there that climate change is an existential threat. If they are disregarding that now, I wonder whether using this as a tactic will draw international attention. It will be a bit of sensationalism, but in the long term I really do wonder whether it can be used as a tactic,” she said.” RTCC

U.N. Conference Set to Bypass “Climate Change Refugees”

IPS News reports that a UN conference of small island states will ignore the possibility of changing the refugee convention to include people displaced by climate change impacts. However, we argue that altering the 1951 Refugee Convention is actually unlikely to to help people who move due to climate change.

From the IPS story: “An international conference on small island developing states (SIDS), scheduled to take place in Samoa next week, will bypass a politically sensitive issue: a proposal to create a new category of “environmental refugees” fleeing tiny island nations threatened by rising seas. … Sara Shaw, climate justice and energy coordinator at Friends of the Earth International (FoEI), told IPS, “We believe that climate refugees have a legitimate claim for asylum and should be recognised under the U.N. refugee convention and offered international protection.” IPS

From our report Creating Legal Protection:  “… in reality there are a number of serious challenges to the proposition (Updating the Refugee Convention). Firstly, there is the challenge of unpicking the root cause of the migration and distinguishing between slow-onset degradation and rapid climate disaster. If untangling climate change from the other causes of someone’s movement is difficult, then enforcing the updated convention could be impossible.” UKCCMC

Alex Randall coordinates the UK Climate Change and Migration Coalition. He is author several reports on migration and climate change. He writes regularly on migration, displacement and climate change for a number of outlets.

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