Do host communities respond differently to people migrating because of environmental impacts compared to refugees fleeing war or migrants seeking work? Research suggests the answer is yes. Multiple factors affect relations between communities and new arrivals, and migrants’ perceived levels of deservingness can be influenced by the reasons why they move. In this episode, we speak with Sabrina Arias and Christopher Blair about their study of responses to climate migrants in the United States and Germany.
Concerns that large numbers of people will be displaced by climate change and head to wealthy countries in North America and Europe are often misplaced, according to migration scholar Hein de Haas. These types of narratives can tap into anti-immigrant sentiments, allow governments to avoid responsibility for their own failures, and may overlook the large numbers of people forced to remain in place amid environmental disaster, he argues in this episode.
Environmental disasters can force people out of their homes and communities, complicating responses to ongoing humanitarian protection efforts. As a result, many humanitarian organizations have started paying attention to the impacts of climate change for multiple aspects of their refugee protection work. For this episode, we speak with Joan Rosenhauer, the executive director of Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, about how natural disasters and other environmental harms affect her organization’s work and its faith-based mission.
The UN migration agency, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in 2015 created a special division responsible for migration-related issues involving the environment and climate change. The division just got a new leader and is looking to embark on a new agenda. This episode of the podcast features a discussion with new division head Manuel Marques Pereira, who talks about his office’s role and priorities in dealing with migration shaped by climatic events.
Global warming and extreme heat are behind many of the phenomena linked to climate change. Hotter weather also has an impact on migration and on migrants, particularly in destinations such as the Middle East and parts of the United States. In recent years, there has been more attention paid to cases of migrant workers dying from the heat. In this episode, we speak with Tord Kjellstrom, a physician and researcher who has closely studied the relationship between extreme heat and population health, about what extreme heat means for migrants.
In Western countries, a common narrative has developed that only poor or developing nations will have to confront human displacement caused by climate change. But communities in the United States and elsewhere have repeatedly moved because of environmental disasters such as flooding. This episode features a discussion on the U.S. government’s responses to internal displacement, with Kavi Chintam and Chris Jackson, co-authors of an Issues in Science and Technology article analyzing the approach to managed retreat.
Technically, people forced to move because of climate disasters are not considered “refugees.” But the UN refugee agency, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, still takes climate issues into account, and since 2020 Andrew Harper has been its special advisor on climate action. We talked with Harper about his agency’s role in responding to climate issues, which regions of the world are most likely to be affected by climate impacts, and why climate is a “vulnerability multiplier” for refugees.
Popular discussions usually frame climate change-induced migration negatively, often as a strategy of last resort. But migrating abroad can also be an effective way to build resilience against the impacts of climate change. This episode discusses how migration can bring social, economic, and other benefits to migrants and their communities, in conversation with University of Vienna human geographer Harald Sterly.
Hundreds of thousands of migrants have left Central America in recent years, and climate extremes have been identified as one of the factors that might be driving this movement, along with elements such as political instability and violence. In this episode, we hear from geographer and climatologist Diego Pons, of Colorado State University, to dissect how changing climate, food insecurity, and migration intersect in this region.
Climate change and international migration both are global issues with aspects that countries try to manage through treaties, pacts, and other types of agreements. But most of the global governance frameworks that exist for climate-induced migration require only voluntary commitments by states. This episode features a discussion with political scientist Nick Micinski, author of the forthcoming books, UN Global Compacts: Governing Migrants and Refugees and Delegating Responsibility: International Cooperation on Migration in the European Union.