The displacement of populations due to the impact of climate change on people in certain regions, especially those in the Pacific Islands, the Lake Chad region and South Asia, are not adequately addressed at an international level.
In the case of the Lake Chad region, which includes the eight countries of Chad, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Nigeria, Niger, Sudan, Libya and Algeria, the populations of this sub-region are affected by the drying up of Lake Chad and migrate mostly to these neighboring countries. Only a very small minority manage to reach Europe via Libya and Algeria.
At an international level, the political leaders of the far right consider these populations to be internal and/or economic migrants, and wrongly or intentionally conceal the primary reason for the migration. This primary reason of their displacement is, notably, the degradation of their environment because of the proliferation of greenhouse gases from activities related to natural resources extraction by multinational corporations.
The political leaders of the far right mistakenly or purposely cite, for the reception and care of these people, the implementation of the 1998 UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, which paradoxically address people displaced within the same country. However, this problem is about cross-border displaced persons, and international protection is required.
The handful of displaced persons who arrive in Europe cannot rely on the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees because environmental migrants are not refugees under this Convention.
The case of the displaced persons in the Lake Chad region is not an isolated case. Other places such as the Pacific Islands and South Asia, where territories are disappearing due to rising sea levels, suffer the same climatic and migratory injustice.
The displacement of these populations, with the consequent financial, social, environmental, democratic, and political impacts, is debated within the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage of the UN Climate Convention.
Such discussions, however, require going beyond the attempts to find solutions made by the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) process, the Marrakech Global Compact on Migration, and the COP24 recommendations on population displacement.
In this context, Carre Geo & Environnement, which has been advocating for the adoption of a legally binding instrument in favor of environmental migrants since 2015, has organized, in conjunction with the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies, a COP25 side event about the political issues of environmental migration.
The goal is to initiate a multi-actor alliance strategy beyond all racial, religious, political and border considerations.
Important questions include: What legal status should be given to the increasing number of displaced persons? How can they be financed in host countries? What solutions can be found to reduce the causes of departure from their own countries? How can we preserve the cultural heritage of peoples whose lands may disappear forever? How do we improve the integration of these new arrivals in the face of the rise of populism and inward-looking attitudes?
These are some of the concerns that the conference will attempt to address with participants and speakers.
Dr. Golam Rabbani, Fellow, Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies
Dr. Atiq Rahman, Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies
Dina IONESCO, Head of the Migration, Environment and Climate Change (MECC) Division at the UN Migration Agency (IOM) and member of a working group on population displacements
Alpha Oumar Kaloga, Member of Green Climate Fund and Member of the Executive Committee of the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage
Ibrahim Mbamoko, Executive Secretary, Carre Geo & Environnement