Newtok climrefugees_SDengler_Davos_25Aug (2)

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5th International Disaster and Risk Conference IDRC 2014 Integrative Risk Management - The role of science, technology & practice 24-28 August 2014 in Davos, Switzerland

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  • 350 residents in Newtok, recognised as an American Indian tribe, used to be only a winter camp but gov requested settlement 1950 (education but less adaptation to CC: development goals vs. resilience not always compatible)

    One of 186 native communities that are at risk because of CC (Newtok disappear coming year, relocation process started -> other most touched: Kivalina and Shishmaref)

    Attention in the news: community in a developed country!

    -> community of Newtok can be pictured in two ways: climate refugees or climate migrants

    Assembling representatives from state agencies, federal agencies, and non-governmental organisations, the Newtok Planning Group coordinates the relocation of the village to Nelson Island (Newtok Planning Group, 2014) -> new townsite Mertarvik
  • Alaska’s temperature rise two times higher than the rest of the US
    Permafrost under which Newtok is located is melting -> soil instability and diverting of river banks
    + Sea-ice recedes for longer periods during the year: increased damages from storms
    + Community was hit by six extreme weather events from 1989 to 2006, five of which declared as disasters by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency)
    => coastal erosion: insulated the city now trapped between a slough and the growing river

    Report from US Army Corps of Engineers 2009: Newtok could be under water by 2017

    Sea walls not enough: Storms destroy them -> decision to relocate taken by an overwhelming majority of the community, who voted three times to approve the new relocation site evaluated by the Newtok Traditional Council
    The relocation process to Nelson Island, situated 9 miles south of the current location, started in 2011 after obtaining the land title from the US Fish and Wildlife Service
    There is a consensus on the need for relocation and several reports have confirmed the suitability of the new relocation site (Bronen, 2011).

    BUT: multiple economic, institutional and political barriers at the local, national and global level. Our argument was to show that these were in turn indirectly influenced by global narratives on climate-induced displacement.
  • 600 mio – 1.3 bill costs to relocate 12 villages imminently threatened (GAO 2009)

    2.5% GDP decline last year

    Flooding causes health hazards and reduces adaptive capacity
  • The 1951 UN refugee convention limits the recognition of refugees to a very explicit legal category, which does not include individuals that have been forced to leave their countries due to irremediable changes in their environment and are unable to seek help from their governments.

    inability or unwillingness of many states to protect their IDPs (Forced Migration Review, 2008). Moreover, the “Responsibility to Protect” concept – an obligation of the international community to step in if countries do not have the capacity to deal with internal displacement effectively – is of limited value for climate refugees since it applies mainly to mass atrocities (genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing) and as most countries remain strongly committed to the principle of national sovereignty.

    Help and funds concentrated on post-disaster relief and rebuilding of infrastructure

    Stanley Tom, Newtok’s current administrator, pointed out the lack of experience of government officials, who have never dealt with relocating a community (York, 2010). Indeed, Sally R. Cox who is a planner in the Alaska’s Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development states that they are using very much an experimental approach given the lack of expertise of one single agency on relocating an entire village (York, 2010).
  • Narratives are “representations of a particular situation or process in such a way as to reflect or conform to an overarching set of aims or values” (Oxford Dictionaries, 2014). With their assumptions of cause-and-effect, they influence academic research, public perceptions, political choices and development activities.

    IPCC 1990: by 2050 150 million people climate refugees
    25 mio (Bauer 2010) to 1 billion by 2050 (Brown 2008), 200 mio by 2050 (Myers) -> do not take account adaptive responses, do not disaggregate climate vs. other envir, socio-econ, pol factors, not supported by past experiences
    -> EACH-FOR project or Gallup
    Inhabitants island states not wish to represent themselves as climate refugees

    Climate migrant: focus internal and more empowering -> The climate refugee narrative presents migration as a failure of mitigation and adaptation strategies while the climate migrant narrative promotes migration as an adaptation strategy. Applied to the case of Newtok, this means that local actors working on relocation would be pictured as victims of climate change that need to be “managed” by international interventions (Bettini, 2013) or alternatively as agents of change that can take on individual actions to design adaptation and relocation strategies. As we can immediately see given the previous chapter describing a) the willingness and capacity of local stakeholders to take decisions and actions for relocation but also b) the manyfold barriers preventing them to take effective action, one can already see that both narratives are oversimplified models likely leading to inadequate policy recommendations.
  • Narratives have been shown to have a significant impact on policies for climate change at the local, national and international level (Mitchell, 2002; Hanyes, et al., 2004; Gill, 2010; Luedtke & Howkins, 2012; Bettini, 2013; Marshall, 2014). The influence on climate and migration policies can be direct, through policy recommendations derived from narrow assumptions about the relationship between migration and climate change, as well as indirect, through the influence of public perceptions and individual actions.

    Neglecting of intra-national inequalities, f.e. funds under NAPAs only accessible by state actors (Shearer 2012)

    In the US, responsibility to deal with relocation was given to entities not specifically equipped to deal with it such as FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), specialising in disaster mitigation and part of the Department of Homeland Security, and the ACE (Army Corps of Engineers) responsible for maintaining water and related environmental resources and hence coastal erosion.

    In the US:
    Obama has repeatedly presented climate change as a security issue, mainly because of conflicts triggered in developing countries due to environmental changes and scarcity of resources (Johnson, 2009; Washington post, 2014). He also mentioned that these conflicts were likely to lead to increased refugee flows to neighbouring countries (Planet experts, 2014).
  • In PNG, the resettlement of 6000 people to Bougainville due to climate change impacts including salt water inundation, food insecurity, and land loss, was agreed in 2007 by the PNG government and the Bougainville government (Displacement Solutions, 2008). The relocation process was hindered by the lack of political will, the low administrative capacity and the lack of financial means required. In order to circumvent these problems, the communities facing the need to relocate organised the resettlement process themselves. The identification and purchasing of land to relocate the refugees was a major challenge. In other words, the governmental response was lacking both on the funding and on the planning for the resettlement.
  • "Climigration" is the term that best describes this kind of community displacement. Climigration results from gradual climate-induced ecological
    changes, combined with repeated extreme weather events, which severely impact infrastructure, such as health clinics and schools, as well as the livelihoods and well·being of the people residing in the community. Climigration occurs when a community is no longer sustainable for ecological reasons. Climigration differs from population displacement caused by catastrophic random environmental events, such as hurricanes, where disaster relief and the temporary relocation of individuals and communities are the humanitarian responses. Climigration means there is no ability to return home because home is under water or sinking in thawing permafrost.
  • Newtok climrefugees_SDengler_Davos_25Aug (2)

    1. 1. Climate refugees in a developed country: The case of Newtok, 5th International Disaster and Risk Conference IDRC 2014 ‘Integrative Risk Management - The role of science, technology & practice‘ • 24-28 August 2014 • Davos • Switzerland www.grforum.org Alaska Solène Dengler, Adrien Comte, Aglaé Jezequel, Eleonora Perrotta CliMates Paris, France Please add your logo here
    2. 2. 5th International Disaster and Risk Conference IDRC 2014 ‘Integrative Risk Management - The role of science, technology & practice‘ • 24-28 August 2014 • Davos • Switzerland www.grforum.org Objective of the paper • Analyse two prevailing narratives on climate-induced displacement and their influence on policies using the case study of Newtok • Describe the various challenges faced by communities who are forced to relocate due to climate change at the local, national and global level • Make the case for a greater emphasis on internal displacement in national and international policies
    3. 3. 5th International Disaster and Risk Conference IDRC 2014 ‘Integrative Risk Management - The role of science, technology & practice‘ • 24-28 August 2014 • Davos • Switzerland www.grforum.org Newtok
    4. 4. 5th International Disaster and Risk Conference IDRC 2014 ‘Integrative Risk Management - The role of science, technology & practice‘ • 24-28 August 2014 • Davos • Switzerland www.grforum.org Newtok: the problem of relocation Climate change Permafrost melting and sea-level rise Sea walls not enough to protect the community Decision to relocate Relocation process stalled Economic barriers Institutional barriers Political barriers Global narratives on climate-induced displacement
    5. 5. 5th International Disaster and Risk Conference IDRC 2014 ‘Integrative Risk Management - The role of science, technology & practice‘ • 24-28 August 2014 • Davos • Switzerland www.grforum.org Multiple barriers to effective relocation • Economic - $80-130 million for the relocation of Newtok (USACE 2006) - Economy based on oil and gas on the decline - High current and future costs of climate change : $72 mio for erosion control and infrastructure (Baker Institute Alaska 2012, Bronen and Chapin 2013), $5-8 billion in the future - In the US slow destruction does not qualify for disaster relief funds, neither for state or federal laws (Goldenberg 2013) Political -Funds have to be secured through Congress - Sarah Palin created the CC “immediate action” working group in Alaska but reversed her position in 2008 (Goldenberg 2013) -Contested authority of Stanley Tom, the administrator of the relocation process
    6. 6. 5th International Disaster and Risk Conference IDRC 2014 ‘Integrative Risk Management - The role of science, technology & practice‘ • 24-28 August 2014 • Davos • Switzerland www.grforum.org Multiple barriers to effective relocation • Institutional - 1998 Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement: non-binding, implementation into national legislation slow -No mechanisms and governmental agency for disaster preparedness and relocation (Bronen 2011) -Lack of experience in dealing with relocation (York 2010) due in part to a lack of sharing of best-practice cases worldwide
    7. 7. Global narratives on climate-induced displacement 5th International Disaster and Risk Conference IDRC 2014 ‘Integrative Risk Management - The role of science, technology & practice‘ • 24-28 August 2014 • Davos • Switzerland www.grforum.org Climate refugee (Felli 2013) • Victims • International • Mitigation Climate migrant (Felli 2013) • Agents • National • Adaptation Climigration (Bronen 2010) • Victims-agents • Local • Permanent displacement Problems: Focus South-North and future refugee flows Contested figures Disempowerment Problems: Temporary relocation Underestimates institutional barriers and power relations Focus on individual
    8. 8. Global narratives: negative impact on policies 5th International Disaster and Risk Conference IDRC 2014 ‘Integrative Risk Management - The role of science, technology & practice‘ • 24-28 August 2014 • Davos • Switzerland www.grforum.org • Influence on funding and sustainability of actions taken: lack of recognition of the responsibility ro respond to CC (Mc Namara 2007), neglecting of intra-national inequalities (Shearer 2012) • Lack of building up national and local institutional frameworks for adaptation and relocation + gathering of best practices for policy learning (Bettini 2013) • Securitisation of policies (Hartmann 2010) • Xenophobic reactions or sense of powerlessness and trivialisation (Smith 2007, Bettini 2013)
    9. 9. • Multiple barriers at different levels of economic, institutional and political nature. In this case study social and cultural barriers no significant role in preventing effective relocation. • Not the only case: Papua New Guinea, Pacific Island Communities, Vietnam, Mongolia • -> PNG similar barriers to Newtok, Mongolia socio-cultural problems (host communities) 5th International Disaster and Risk Conference IDRC 2014 ‘Integrative Risk Management - The role of science, technology & practice‘ • 24-28 August 2014 • Davos • Switzerland www.grforum.org Lessons learned from Newtok • Relocation is a lengthy and complicated process, with many actors involved. It needs to be started as soon as possible!
    10. 10. Added value for the Post 2015 Framework for 5th International Disaster and Risk Conference IDRC 2014 ‘Integrative Risk Management - The role of science, technology & practice‘ • 24-28 August 2014 • Davos • Switzerland www.grforum.org Disaster Risk Reduction • How did your work support the implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action: – informs “Governance: organisational, legal and policy frameworks” : importance of adequate institutional frameworks supporting the access of local governments to finance, information and technical assistance for relocation – shows how “Risk identification and early warning” as well as “Preparedness for effective response and recovery” can be delayed for extensive risk events linked to climate change in developed countries when attention is focused on a hypothetical security threat of future flows of international climate refugees
    11. 11. Added value for the Post 2015 Framework for 5th International Disaster and Risk Conference IDRC 2014 ‘Integrative Risk Management - The role of science, technology & practice‘ • 24-28 August 2014 • Davos • Switzerland www.grforum.org Disaster Risk Reduction • From your perspective what are the main gaps, needs and further steps to be addressed in the Post 2015 Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction in – Research: internal displacement, collection of best practices for relocation, more evidence on the conditions for migration to be sustainable – Education & Training: training of staff for relocation processes, find innovative ideas to reach out to communities and make their voices heard – Implementation & Practice: designation of national agencies responsible for the management of relocation and coordination of various actors – Policy: more proactive policies based on evidence rather than on narratives, drive the translation of the 1998 Guiding Principles into national legislation, allow direct international assistance to non-state actors
    12. 12. 5th International Disaster and Risk Conference IDRC 2014 ‘Integrative Risk Management - The role of science, technology & practice‘ • 24-28 August 2014 • Davos • Switzerland www.grforum.org Thank you!! Solène Dengler solene.dengler@studentclimates.org

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