Climate-Induced Migration

Environmental change is one of the many reasons that prompt people to migrate or flee, but its importance in both internal and cross-border flows is rising as more climate impacts intensify.  Environmental events can also inhibit movement or lead governments to relocate households away from exposed areas.

The scientific understanding of different types of environmental mobility has advanced over the past decades. In parallel, numerous states and non-state actors at global, regional, and national levels have paid increasing attention to the issue. Five key international perspectives are applied to environmental mobility: (a) forced migration/refugees; (b) migration; (c) planned relocation; (d) disaster risk reduction, development and resilience; and (e) climate action. These frameworks for analysis are grounded in diverse international norms and processes, and are variously adopted by multilateral organizations.

Below are the different research projects relating to climate-induced migration and environmental mobility on which the Institute is conducting research.

Governance on Environmental Mobility

Project Goals

1. Identify normative gaps at the international and regional levels pertaining to disaster displacement and migration due to slow-onset climate change.

2. Examine work plans of leading international organizations and international processes relating to climate-induced migration.

3. Divide the challenges that need to be addressed into “buckets,” for analysis and the development of recommendations and to provide a coherent schema.

4. Make recommendations on norms and institutional arrangements for meeting the identified gaps and challenges.

This research has been supported by KNOMAD, the Robert Bosch Foundation, and the Open Society Foundations.

Platform For The Integration Of Migrants

Project CONTEXT AND Goals

In late 2019, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) began work that seeks to facilitate the collection, analysis, and dissemination of territorial data on migrants, as a way to improve the capacity of subnational entities in the formulation of public policies for their integration and protection.

As part of this regional project, the IDB, through its Housing and Urban Development and Migration Divisions, are launching a data-driven project to understand both the drivers of environmental mobility and its future geographic distribution in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), with a specific focus on mobility decisions at the subnational level. The purpose is to generate, analyze, and present new data in order to better contextualize climate-driven mobility and inform evidence-based policies that broaden the capacity of cities in the region to respond to the challenges of environmental change, particularly climate change, and foster integration for migrant populations in cities and metropolitan areas.

The Zolberg Institute will support this project by:

  • Producing a framework to understand the environmental and climate-related drivers behind migration in LAC, and their interaction with other drivers;
  • Generating a LAC-specific model to project and map environmental and climate mobility, with a specific focus on the production of data at the city level;
  • Based on these modeling and data outputs, developing policy-relevant, operational messages that help cities frame more accurately the effects, challenges, and opportunities of  the climate-migration nexus for cities.

This research has been supported by the Inter-American Development Bank.
Research is led by Achilles Kallergis, Assistant Professor and Director Cities and Migration Project.

Climate-Induced Migration In Vulnerable Neighborhoods Of Coastal Cities Of Sub-Saharan Africa

Project Context & Goals

The nexus of environmental migration and urban policy appears disconnected and underexplored, even as research has documented how migrants in cities are disproportionately affected by climate vulnerability, experience extreme forms of climate injustice, and, in some cases, are actively erased from cities through force or discriminatory policies. The project emphasizes how local communities and cities can respond, prepare for and adapt to absorbing and integrating migrant populations. 

In collaboration with Slum Dwellers International four case studies in informal settlements in Accra, Freetown, Monrovia, and Dar es Salam, all coastal cities in sub-Saharan Africa, will be produced with the purpose of:

  1. Developing more accurate systematic data on human mobility patterns and neighborhood-level conditions in order to provide the baseline information for understanding and implementing resilient strategies that address climate vulnerabilities in destination areas.
  2. Identifying the policy-relevance and role of organized community groups for managing local integration processes and addressing tensions between migrant and host communities. 
  3. Establishing an action plan for addressing environmental migration and improving the conditions in the destination areas of migrants through the active involvement of local communities in decision-making and planning processes.

This research has been supported by the Robert Bosch Stiftung.
Research is led by Achilles Kallergis, Assistant Professor and Director Cities and Migration Project.

The New School Collaborative On Climate Futures

The climate crisis is not a calamity distant in space and time. It is happening, here, now, in New York City, with rising temperatures and rising sea-levels. It is accelerating refugees flows from South and Central America north to the US border. It is devastating seacoasts, forests, and island communities with increasingly powerful weather events and fires. The New School has the potential—indeed, responsibility—to respond intelligently and creatively, sensitive to the ways in which the climate crisis disproportionately harms communities of color in this nation and around the world.

The New School Collaborative on Climate Futures affirms and fosters the University’s commitment to interdisciplinary, far-sighted, action-oriented and social justice-driven responses to anthropogenic climate change. The Collaborative is a way to bring together the resources of the University around a compelling set of issues—through joint and interdisciplinary courses, research, investigation, practice and performance. The Collaborative aims to build bridges among units that support new ways of thinking and teaching, new vocabularies, and new forms of practice.

More information Coming Soon


Refugee Policy in the Biden Administration

On April 23, 2021, T. Alexander Aleinikoff, Director of the Zolberg Institute and University Professor at The New School, Mark Hetfield, President and CEO of HIAS, and Kayly Ober, Senior Advocate and Program Manager, Climate Displacement Program at Refugees International discussed the Biden Administration’s refugee policies and proposed actions. NPR’s Deborah Amos moderated.

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