Forecasting and responding to environmental migration

08 November 2018 - 13:00 - 14:00
Linnea Engström, Dharmendra Kanani, Sheila Sealy Monteith, Caroline Zickgraf

In 2017, the number of forcibly displaced people globally rose to 68.5 million. By 2050, experts predict a significant rise in the number of environmental migrants worldwide – a number that comes in addition to the refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people that will continue to flee their homes out of a fear of persecution. This early warning creates a unique opportunity for governments, the private sector and civil society to prepare for the changes to come and to seek out opportunities to curb destruction and loss of life. 

This debate is part of Friends of Europe’s Migration Action programme, which aims to examine the imperative of migration in the context of economic sustainability and demographics, as well as its impact on public services, communities and security. This Policy Insight will allow speakers and participants to contemplate current and future climate change-induced migration trends, with the aim of offering concrete proposals on ways forward.

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Future flows - Forecasting and responding to environmental migration

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IMAGE CREDIT: weerapat/Bigstock


Welcome and registration of participants


Future flows: forecasting and responding to environmental migration

Predictions about the future of climate change-induced migration vary widely, with experts citing the potential for 25 million to 1 billion environmental migrants by 2050, with 200 million the most widely agreed upon estimate. By looking to environmental drivers of migration as they stand now – such as crop failure, rising sea levels and drought – policymakers around the world may be able to work ahead of the curve to prevent loss of life, to ensure safe and regular migration flows and to prepare their societies for such possible disruptions. As environmental migrants additionally fall outside the legal definition of a ‘refugee’, and are therefore not afforded the same protections, is a new framework needed to fill this gap?

  • Given that environmental migrants are not protected under international refugee law, what initiatives should be set into motion now to ensure that they receive sufficient protection in the future?
  • With most environmental migration likely to take place within countries and regions, how are policymakers, the private sector and civil society around the world preparing for future migration flows?
  • How can early warning systems designed for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) be used to develop initiatives encouraging resilience in affected regions?

Speakers include:
Linnéa Engström, Member of the European Parliament and rapporteur on women, gender equality and climate justice
Sheila Sealy Monteith, Jamaican Ambassador to Belgium and Permanent Representative to the EU and UNESCO
Caroline Zickgraf, Deputy Head of the Hugo Observatory – Environment, Migration, Politics at the University of Liège

Moderated by:
Dharmendra Kanani, Director of Insights at Friends of Europe


End of debate

Linnea Engström
Member of the European Parliament and rapporteur on women, gender equality and climate justice
As a proud advocate for mainstreaming feminism into the climate change debate, Linnea Engström is the author of the recent book Climate Feminism. In the European Parliament, she serves as Vice-Chair of the Fisheries Committee as well as a substitute member of both the Environment Committee and the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality. In her role, Engström has also served as rapporteur on the European Parliament’s report on women, gender equality and climate justice, which raises the issue of climate refugees and calls for mainstreaming gender into climate action.
Dharmendra Kanani
Director of Insights at Friends of Europe
Dharmendra Kanani has been in senior leadership roles in the Public and Voluntary sectors across the UK and Europe over a period of 26 years. In 2005, he was appointed as Director of Scotland of the Big Lottery Fund. Subsequently, from 2010 to 2014, Kanani was the England Director at the Big Lottery Fund, the largest independent funder in the UK. Since 2016, he has supported Friends of Europe’s strategic development across all its policy areas with a strong focus on Climate and Energy; Peace, Security and Defence as well as Digitalisation. Prior to this role, Kanani was the European Foundation Centre’s (EFC) first Fellow in July 2014. 
Sheila Sealy Monteith
Jamaican Ambassador to Belgium and Permanent Representative to the EU and UNESCO
Sheila Sealy Monteith is a career diplomat of over 30 years, currently supporting Jamaica’s relationship with Belgium and the EU. She also serves as Chairwoman of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) Committee of Ambassadors. Sealy Monteith has taken part in a number of debates, including on the importance of empowering women and girls to combat climate change. Prior to her post in Brussels, she served as Under-Secretary for Multilateral Affairs, Ambassador to Mexico and as High Commissioner to Canada.  
Caroline Zickgraf
Deputy Head of the Hugo Observatory – Environment, Migration, Politics at the University of Liège
Caroline Zickgraf’s primary research areas include the migratory impacts of climate change on coastal populations, transnationalism and transnational families and (im)mobility. Her latest research has led her to investigate the relationships between populations who do and do not migrate in the face of environmental changes, and includes case studies of Senegal, Vietnam and Japan. Zickgraf has consulted for the World Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Nansen Initiative and the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) on the links between climate change and migration.

Amanda Rohde, Programme Manager
Tel.: +32 2 893 98 11
Email: amanda.rohde@friendsofeurope.org

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Event starts
08 November