Every Thursday we’ll post a couple of new pieces of research on climate change, migration and displacement. If you have suggestions for next week, please post them in comments.
Climate and Mobility in the West African Sahel: Conceptualising the Local Dimensions of the Environment and Migration Nexus.
Clemens Romankiewicz and Martin Doevenspeck
Despite the theoretical and methodological critique of deterministic and linear explanations of migration under changing climatic conditions, many empirical case studies in this field remain deeply entrenched in static push-pull frameworks and tend to reproduce simplistic causal relationships. Drawing on results from an interdisciplinary research project in Mali and Senegal, the chapter presents a methodological approach that emanates from past analytical shortcomings. By adopting a local perspective on migration, we consider cultural norms, the migration history and people’s interpretations of weather and environmental changes.
Extreme weather events have the potential to cause serious harm and can contribute to displacement. Such events are expected to increase in frequency and/or intensity as a consequence of climate change. It is therefore of concern that there is widely considered to be a protection gap when affected individuals cross an international border. However, apart from a handful of cases in Australia and New Zealand, the contours of this perceived gap have not been fully explored in practice. In its judgment in Teitiota v Chief Executive of the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, the High Court of New Zealand described a claim brought by a citizen of the low-lying Pacific island nation of Kiribati seeking protection from climate change-related harm as an ‘impermissible’ attempt to ‘dramatically’ expand the scope of the Refugee Convention. Far from spelling the end of litigation, this Chapter argues that this case, along with earlier cases in Australia and New Zealand, helps to clarify ways in which migrants fearing disaster-related harm may secure international protection in an era of climate change.
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.