Mobility and Climate Change
Mobility is the story of human and we observe it on a seasonal scale (e.g. Ababneh et al., 2001) and at the long-term scale such as in the establishment of the Americas. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 5th Assessment Report) classifies three forms of mobility, including: displacement (forced leave of habitual environment), migration (voluntary movement), and Planned Relocation (organized and aimed movement).
Regardless of the cause, the 21st century political climate supported by abrupt changes in climate have mandated many human movements at an unprecedented rate. In 2015 alone, 14.7 million people were displaced due to climate related events (UN Climate Change Newsroom). COP21 mandated the establishment of a task-force to develop recommendations that aims to deter and minimize human displacement caused by climate change. During my participation in COP22, I made an extra effort to follow UNFCC sessions that raises attention to new directions and pushing needs to minimize human displacement. I chose to comment on two themes that I gathered from meetings as summary of these sessions can be viewed on line at COP22 disaster displacement. Theme one, the definition of a migrant and theme two is displacement through a child’s eye. I will start with the later and bridge to the first.
It was strongly recommended to have experts on the ground that look at displacement through the eye of a child. The aim was to answer a key question: what efforts are needed to bring a displaced child back into the normal life of the 21st century? Key element is the cultural definition of normal life. As a bi-disciplinary scientist (physical sciences and human ecology), I find this recommendation the most appealing because it requires enormous efforts, clever utilization of resources, and highly skilled professionals who have the ability to step into the shoes of a displaced child, bring the best out after dismantling the trauma effect due to family separation, chaos and confusion.
From my perspective, we might still lag in our preparation in this particular arena. Because most displacements happen on the fly. We might be prepared for the large picture of a child in diaspore but not the detailed one. Mind you, this view migrant as victims. But what IF we change our view of migrant’s to people who are empowered by their choice to remove themselves from negative environments. Empowered migrant is the new concept that was introduced by F. Ionesco, IOM that I chose to comment on. I think, cognitively, this perception is profound and puts a positive spin on the person by giving them an admirable stand. This particular positive notion also increases the chance of integrating that person in the society because we think they can contribute. In my opinion, this requires a strong social movement to bring change that will likely have to be taught to children at elementary stages. I leave the reader with these two observations and as often is the case, time will be our own judge on the development in this arena.