Climate change and migration: prospects and policy

Presented by ANU College of Health & Medicine

Many have heard of the idea of “climate change migrants” through the media and in global policy forums such as the UNFCCC. Yet, there are many prevailing myths surrounding both the issue itself, and the scope of policy action. Two well-known experts in this area, Jane McAdam and Jon Barnett, will demystify and provide up to date analysis about this emerging policy landscape.

Jon Barnett will present the current state of knowledge about the issue of environmental migration and discuss the findings on migration in the IPCC Fifth Assessment report Chapter 12 (Human Security). Jon's extensive work in the Pacific will be used to illustrate the challenges surrounding the nexus between climate change and migration.

Jane McAdam will speak on the topic of 'Building a legal and policy toolkit to address climate change-related mobility’. Professor McAdam will briefly sketch the limits and potential of existing legal frameworks (such as refugee law, human rights law, statelessness), and discuss the rich findings that have emerged from the three-year Nansen Initiative process. The Nansen Initiative will issue its final report in October 2015 and will unveil priorities from the four sub-regional consultations so far. The report also covers the need for better integration of mobility issues into disaster risk reduction and the post-Hyogo framework. Finally, Jane will consider ‘where to from here?’.

About the Speakers
Jane McAdam is Scientia Professor of Law and Director of the Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at the University of NSW. She holds an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship, and is a non-resident Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy at The Brookings Institution in Washington DC, a Research Associate at Oxford University’s Refugee Studies Centre, and an Associated Senior Fellow at the Fridtjof Nansen Institute in Norway. Professor McAdam publishes widely in international refugee law and forced migration, with a particular focus on climate change and mobility.

Jane's current research examines historical cases of community relocation and resettlement across international borders, as a means of informing contemporary debates about cross-border relocation in the context of natural disasters and climate change. She serves on a number of international committees, including as Co-Rapporteur of the International Law Association’s Committee on International Law and Sea-Level Rise; a member of the Consultative Committee of the Nansen Initiative on Disaster-Induced Cross-Border Displacement; and a member of the Advisory Board of the Asia-Pacific Migration and Environment Network. She is joint Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Refugee Law, the leading journal in the field. In 2013, she was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.

Jon Barnett is Professor and Australian Research Council Future Fellow in the Department of Resource Management and Geography at Melbourne University. He is a political geographer who researches the impacts of and responses to environmental change on social systems in Australia, East Asia and the South Pacific. Jon is a Lead Author for the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Working Group II, Ch 12), and he is co-editor of Global Environmental Change.

Jon has written a number of peer-reviewed publications and reports on the topic of climate change and migration. His work on this topic has contributed to a reorientation in focus from viewing migration as a crisis to exploring the ways it can promote adaptation.