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Migration, Climate Change and Voluntariness

Wednesday 19 February 2020, 16:15-17:45
Social Science Building, Room 14.33, University of Leeds

The specific challenges that climate change may pose to individuals have been the subject of recent political theory and political philosophy. Many theorists have argued that climate induced migrants should be classified as refugees to assure that their basic needs can be met by international agencies and international rescue attempts. And while it may be true that meeting the basic needs of climate induced migrants poses a particular problem, it is far less clear that subsuming this group of people under the category of refugees would actually address their very specific needs.

Many countries under threat from environmental and climate degradation have begun to relocate some of their citizens to safer ground. One could argue that planned and organized relocation can have benefits for those relocated. This was the motivation of the authors of the Cancun framework to include specific recommendations for relocation as an adaptive measure to climate change. And indeed, proactive governments in Vietnam, Papua New Guinea, the Maldives, but also the Netherlands and the US have begun planning relocation measures that climate change has made necessary. Yet case studies show that even well thought–out and planned relocation is not easily accepted and adopted by populations under threat from climate change. How should we think about relocation from the perspective of autonomy and self-determination? And how should we assess the efforts of governments to address the basic needs of their citizens through relocation in the face of such resistance?

This is a Centre for Contemporary Political Theory talk from Christine Straehle, Professor of Practical Philosophy at the University of Hamburg.

Open to all, no need to book