On Thursday, July 27 we hosted a panel to mark the release of our research brief, “Climate Refugees: Facts and Findings, and Strategies for 'Loss and Damage.'” This panel discussed ideas to strengthen and bridge movements for climate refugee protections, climate reparations, and just transitions. Speakers included Amali Tower, Refugee & Migration Expert, and Director of Climate Refugees; Hamza Hamouchene, Programme Coordinator for North Africa at the Transnational Institute; Mizan Khan, Deputy Director of the International Center for Climate Change and Development; Ineza Umuhoza Grace, Research Assistant at Politics of Climate Change Loss and Damage; and Hossein Ayazi, Policy Analyst, Global Justice Program at the Othering & Belonging Institute.
Hello everyone. Welcome to our audience members and welcome to our panelists here. Speaking on behalf of myself, Hossein Ayazi, the Global Justice Program at the Othering and Belonging Institute at the University of California Berkeley. And on behalf of our institute as a whole, I want to express our deep felt gratitude to you all for being here for this conversation today, for all that you do, and for all that you bring to this work. So thank you. Today's event is titled Climate Refugees: Facts, Findings, and Strategies for loss and damage. This event marks the release of a research brief by the same name, co-authored by me, as well as the director of the Global Justice Program, Elsadig Elsheikh. You all can find the publication on our websites and in the chat as well as related resources shared alongside it by me and our panelists and by other folks at the Othering and Belonging Institute.
In short, this panel and the research brief that inspired it really aimed to explore strategies on how to strengthen and how to bridge movements for climate refugee protections, climate reparations, and just transitions to post extractive and post fossil fuel societies. All of these are key elements of what we might understand as climate justice and even anti-colonial and socialist struggle in general.
I want to give some brief backgrounds about the work of the Global Justice Program at the Othering and Belonging Institute before going into some added context of this panel and of course before going into panelist introductions. So our program, the Global Justice Program, has been working at the nexus of the climate crisis and displacement since as early as 2016. What we began with was a critique of Eurocentric and US-centric narratives of the refugee crisis or refugee crises as strictly or solely a matter of how to manage an influx of racialized people at the borders. So against that dominant narrative the crisis as we came to name it, and as others alongside us came to name it, were the very underlying conditions that forced and have forced so many people to migrate, whether for safety, for work, due to the climate impacts and so on.
The crisis as we understood it and named it, was the conditions of the militarized borders of US, of Europe and elsewhere that people came to experience. These are the crises that are operating in tandem. So throughout, our goal has not only been to support some of the world's most marginalized peoples, but also to dismantle the capitalist and colonial structures that lay behind such marginalization and uneven life chances on a global scale. In this light, what motivated this panel and research brief in particular is indeed the dire nature of the climate crisis, increasing mass displacement caused by short and long-term natural disasters and by the exploitative and extractive histories and structures that gave rise to the climate crisis in the first place, and continue to produce vulnerability to climate impacts. We know that over 70% of all peoples displaced worldwide are from most climate vulnerable countries and that these climate vulnerable countries are overwhelmingly countries of the Global South, meaning formerly colonized countries that remain sites of profound exploitation, extraction, and expropriation.
Yet what's also motivated this panel and research brief is a recent major victory in the ongoing struggle for climate justice and the opportunities that this win has afforded. Namely, in 2022, just last year at the 27th United Nations Climate Conference known as COP 27 in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt. Climate vulnerable countries won the decades long fight for a loss and damage fund. And this fight has been part of international climate talk since as early as 1991 led then by the Alliance of Small Island States, and you'll see it in the title of this panel and this research brief. So this loss and damage funds, the details of which are being worked out and which we'll explore further today is a key step in ensuring that the costs of the climate crisis are covered by the Global North countries, institutions, and corporations that gave rise to it.
And what we might understand as climate reparations to aid the just transition not just to climate resilient societies alone, but societies where all peoples can thrive, in turn addressing the causes of forced migration. We at the Global Justice Program understands the Global South or global peripheries including people themselves who are from the Global South or global peripheries in this way, not just the sites of colonial and capitalist exploitation, extraction, expropriation, and so on. We certainly know that to be the case, but we also understand the Global South or global peripheries as actually the center of revolutionary transformation, which includes the demands and principles that we're bringing here today and that we aim to bridge in our work. These are demands and principles for climate refugee protections, for transforming the very conditions that force people to leave their homes and communities and for collective thriving altogether.
It's with this in mind that our contribution to this collective work has been so deeply inspired and informed by our esteemed speakers here today. I'll introduce the members of this group. I'll then invite them to share their own opening remarks and reflections around their work and the opportunities of this moment. I'll then pose another couple questions around this panel's themes, before we pose a couple questions from our audience. And on that note, please share your thoughts and questions throughout, from audience questions we'll close from there. With that, I'll begin with panelist introductions.
Joining us today are four key people working within and across demands for climate refugee protections, climate reparations, just transitions, and so on. We have with us first Amali Tower, refugee and migration expert and director of the New York based organization, Climate Refugees, a key partner in this work. Amali has extensive global experience in refugee protection, refugee resettlement, and in forced migration and displacement context. Amali has worked globally for numerous IGOs, the UN Refugee Agency, and US Refugee Admissions Program, and she's currently a member of the World Economic Forum Expert Network in migration, human rights and humanitarian response, and the advisory board of the Center for Climate and Security based in Washington DC. Next we have with us Ineza Grace. Ineza's Rwandan climate negotiator, researcher, eco-feminist, and loss and damage expert and advocate who is committed to empowering women, girls, and frontline communities of the Global South and Ineza is the executive director of The Green Fighter and co-director and co-founder of the Loss and Damage Youth Coalition.
This is a coalition of over 600 youth from over 60 countries working on such efforts. Ineza holds a bachelor's degree in Water and Environmental Engineering from the University of Rwanda, and she is a recent winner of the 2023 Global Citizen Prize. So congratulations, Ineza. Next we have with us Dr. Mizan Khan. Dr. Khan is the deputy director of the Bangladesh based International Center for Climate Change and Developments and the program director of Least Developed Countries University Consortium on Climate Change. He has been attending the UNFCCC process as the lead negotiator on climate finance with the Bangladesh delegation since 2001. Professor Khan has a wide range of publications in peer reviewed journals along with three books on climate change, economics and politics published by Rutledge and MIT press since 2014. Welcome Dr. Khan.
And finally we have with us Dr. Hamza Hamouchene. Dr. Hamouchene is London-based Algerian researcher, activist, commentator, and a founding member of Algeria Solidarity Campaign and Environmental Justice North Africa, as well as the North African program coordinator of the Transnational Institute. He's the author and editor of two books, The Struggle for Energy Democracy in the Maghreb and The Coming Revolution to North Africa, The Struggle for Climate Justice. Dr. Hamouchene is the co-editor of the forthcoming volume, Dismantling Green Colonialism: Energy and Climate Justice in the Arab Region. Congratulations on your forthcoming work. And again, on behalf of everyone here, thank you all for joining us. So happy to have you all and to be in conversation with you all in this way. With this, let's get into it with our first question.
Again, this is a kind of question and an open-ended one for you all to introduce yourselves and your work. So I'd like to start us off by inviting you all to share a bit more about your work, your reflections on how you or we collectively got here, your reflections on what this moment is and the opportunities and challenges afforded by it. I've given some context for what this moment is, growing demands to support climate induced displaced peoples, growing demands for climate reparations, or payments for loss and damage, growing demands to democratize, decentralize, and diversify economic activity and just transitions and certainly a moment of such demands coming from youth, especially from across the Global South. So I'd like you to reflect on this moment on your work, how you got here, or perhaps what this moment of climate justice struggles is as you see it or as you would like to encourage us to see it. Perhaps Amali Tower, we can begin with you and welcome.
Okay, thank you so much Hossein for great introduction and congratulations on the release of this new great brief, very timely, very needed. Thank you for this invite and it's lovely to see my esteemed colleagues here, some familiar faces as well. Okay, so the question you asked, what brings me to this work, a little bit expanding upon what you described in my bio. I do come from a refugee and migration background and I've done this work now for over two decades and that work has been informed in the existing legal architecture and frameworks that exist for forcibly displaced populations.
And maybe it's helpful for the audience to know that when we talk about forced migration, it's really people who cross international borders and who meet the threshold of The 1951 Refugee Convention who really can seek international protection and that's limited to people who are fleeing conflict, war violence across borders, and also people fleeing persecution along five grounds; of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, and membership in a particular social group. It's largely informed and comes out of World War II, which was supposed to only have a limitation for certain period of time, and yet the instruments still exists here in 2023. It was also supposed to be limited to people fleeing World War II from Europe and in 1967 we had an additional protocol that sort of lifted both of these limitations, if you will. Now I would say, why do I say that. In 1967, we had the breakdown of colonial pasts and knowing and understanding very well that when people flee across borders, they tend to flee to neighboring countries.
That is very illustrative of why about 80%, it's usually been higher and Ukraine has sort of changed the dynamics a little bit to where it's between 76, 77, 80% of all forcibly displaced people in the world today who are almost 110 million people. That's about 1.4, 1.5% of the global population, live in the Global South. And like I said in the past, those numbers have been 85, 86% of the world. So you can understand based on what you were also saying earlier, Hossein, that Global North countries, framers of that 1951 convention, there is an interest to keep people in the Global South. I would say that there's a culture of acceptance that displacement happens in the Global South, but certainly not in the Global North, and it's very reflective of why the Global North pursues very border security specific policies when it comes to climate displacement than human security. And what do I mean by human security?
Human security is basically, are we working as a global collective? Are we using international policy, international corporation and cooperation and all the legal and policy instruments that we have at our disposal to actually ensure human security, to ensure that we keep the development and human rights gains that we've had over the last several decades or at least since the birth of the United Nations to ensure human security, to advance human security in the era of the climate crisis? And I think illustrative of what you just said, if 70% of all displaced people are coming from the Global South, there's two things that are sort of a challenge. One, we know still very little about how climate is actually driving and intersecting to force people to have to migrate. What we do know about tends to be more about displacement in disaster context and we know the disaster displacement context that are happening within people's countries.
We know very little about the people who are crossing international borders on the basis of climate and when they do move for climate reasons, we seem to want to be very clear about, "Oh, it's climate and climate only." As if migration and displacement has ever happened, for one singular driver. Conflict is an example from I can tell you from doing two decades of refugee determination interviews, resettlement interviews and protection interviews, nobody even in a conflict scenario actually leaves their country or is even displaced within their country for singular drivers. It's usually the intersection of political drivers, socioeconomic drivers, persecution, increasingly climate and how all of these things combined coexist to reduce socioeconomic protections to reduce vulnerabilities or rather increase vulnerabilities and reduce social protections. And the international system today, doesn't really exist to look at it through this more combined harmonious lens and thus a harmonious response.
Instead, we want to categorize people as saying who is deserving of protection and sort of cherry-pick the reasons as to why and that's why you're seeing the border crises that are playing out at the US border, in Europe. We've gone from the EU making agreements with Turkey to Morocco to now Tunisia and you can see it's about keeping people out, not understanding what exactly is driving people to have to leave their countries. And fundamentally what's missing here is an understanding that nobody wants to be forced to leave their home. Nobody wants to leave their home. Would you, right? Any one of us in this panel today and on this webinar know every single time you've moved with full agency, you've had about 20, 30 reasons and variables that have gone into your decision making.
I want to say that what we do at Climate Refugees, I founded the organization now almost nine years ago precisely because it was refugees themselves who were describing climate and environmental degradation reasons for their flight. It was also refugees themselves describing when I asked a fundamental question like what would happen if you return to your country or why can't you return to your country? Why are we looking at resettlement as a durable solution for you? To have people who are more informed about the refugee convention than an expert like me or anyone else on this panel, to lead with climate reasons rather than the war that was well-documented and well-known in their countries, to me was incredibly powerful and illustrative of a major gap, a major lack of understanding, hubris on the part of the Global North and western societies and a fundamental lack of understanding as to what exactly is human security.
You may have an absence of war and you can return to your country, but do you have any stability? Is there anything to return to, when mothers tell you, "How can I return? Return to what? Even before we left, I couldn't feed my family for five seasons because crops had failed." That is the incredible opportunity for us to A, listen, witness, gather that testimony and use those as fundamental avenues through which we can inform and widen the scope of what is protection, what instruments do we have, what's lacking and how can we better understand this as loss and damage? I'll leave it there because I did not keep track of my time and I want to be mindful of your moderating skills here. Thanks.
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, your work, your experience, experience of so many of us, and for offering really necessary context analysis and calls to action for this panel. Truly, thank you. On the note that you'd ended, I'd like to shift to inviting Dr. Mizan Khan to speak to perhaps your work, how you got here, how we collectively got here, what this moment demands and the opportunities that it affords. Welcome.
Yeah. I come from Bangladesh. A country can be considered as the front line of vulnerability, not in terms of total physical existence as many small island developing states face, but in terms of the total population facing this challenge of displacement. Bangladesh is the most densely populated country in the world and due to sea level rise, floods, and cyclones, if 15 to 20% of our people are displaced, then it comes to around a huge 15, 20 million population and that is much higher than all the small island states taken together. So from that perspective, we are one of the most vulnerable countries now. In Bangladesh, let me share a little about what we are doing, ICCCAD is an institution, think tank at independent University of Bangladesh based in Dhaka, but we are now a global institution, a global think tank prominent from the Global South. I'm the technical lead of the LDC Universities Consortium on Climate Change where we work with African universities now to capacitate those societies through the university doing research and doing community works, training, et cetera.
Now there's a human displacement due to climate change is a reality, you all know. South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, these are the two most vulnerable, hot spots facing human displacement both in terms of the acuteness as well as the number of population exposed too. So in Bangladesh, Bangladesh is kind of again a laboratory of new and innovative ideas.
Historically, Bangladesh still now is regarded as a model of disaster management. Now we are trying to prepare ourself as the model for adaptation, microfinance and microcredits, all those are innovations in Bangladesh. Now we are doing another kind of innovation in the sense for the last few years our center has been working with a number of mayors in the smaller towns in Bangladesh from Dhaka. Bangladesh is a capital centric country, so all these displaced people move to Dhaka and Dhaka is extremely overcrowded. So our model is to create climate resilient migrant friendly towns because the first need that displaced person expects and moves for is to have some employment, gainful employment to earn some money, to support his family either left behind or joining with him. So we are trying to work with some mayors to establish climate resident migrant friendly towns where government has got good investment plans, plans for infrastructure building and all those both inland and also coastal towns.
This is one thing and we are working with the town government to develop adaptation plans for example, because this is something both of hardwares, we need infrastructure development. Then software in terms of policies, particularly adaptation plans. As well as what I call "Heartwares" means the values so that you as an old resident of the town should not be allergic to incoming fellows so that you develop a sense of tolerance and we are working along those lines. Now our center also is doing a research, particularly at my initiative of a selective relocation abroad model. In Science last year we have published a piece on this climate displacement from the perspective of a densely populated country, Bangladesh. There we have suggested about selective relocation abroad, because wholesale migration, climate migration is not welcoming. Amali has mentioned about human security, about securitization of this climate refugee issue.
Our model is we are trying to do some research on this, expand our idea in terms of able-bodied young men and women being trained in the original country, for example, in jointly supported institutions both from Global North and Global South. And then they can undergo training for two, three years and they can move even on temporary migration like circular migration to a European country or Northern American country. They can work for few years and again, they can come back, not necessarily they have to be given citizenship, they can leave behind the dependence as all parents, all the children and wives. And this is a good winning option for both the host country as well as the sending countries because I have seen, not a single literature which could show that migration historically has added to the burden of the host society.
These migrants are better buyers than many citizens of the host countries. They are tax paying citizens. So this is good for the host country in terms of their [inaudible 00:26:39] of employment market, labor market, the government revenues generation as well as good for the sending countries because they send money as remittance so their children can go to better schools. This helps for economic growth. So these are the two areas that we are focusing our research on. Now in terms of opportunities, for example, this loss and damage, one of the agenda of loss and damage is human displacement and this is growing as a more and more important issue. So the unity, level of unity that forced the UNFCC other parties to agree to establishing a loss and damage fund. We need that kind of rock solid unity in this agenda of human displacement. We need to develop kind of a perspective of human security as Amali also has referred to, human security.
We have to look at through the lens of vulnerability, not from military conflict potential. As the industrial countries are doing research on as kind of a threat to their internal fabric and all those. So this we need to do, and I'll mention just one very famous decision back in 2010, Article 14F, which was extremely a progressive kind of decision, 2.5 [inaudible 00:28:15] decision, but it contained brilliant ideas about movement at three levels; national, regional and international. Then three types of movement; displacement, migration and planned relocation and three types of actions; collaboration, cooperation and research. But the global community has been backtracking after 2010 about this. And then we know this informally intergovernmental platform [inaudible 00:28:48] initiative have cropped up, but the TFD for example, there's a task force on displacement. Their main still focus is on understanding the problem research but not kind of hammering the main solution.
How we can reduce the protection deficit of these displaced persons both internally as well as externally. As Amalia also has mentioned that people don't want to move out of their country because there is kind of a kinship relationship and kind of emotional attachment. So institute adaptation is the best option, but for that most vulnerable countries as the low income countries require money. You will know that adaptation finance is extremely, extremely poor. So had there been adequate adaptation finance, then we could support these people internally and even if they're displaced from someplace, they could be relocated in areas where there is a space. So that is not there. So we need to raise our bias both in academic as well as in NGO and policy level, and we need to buy in the UNFCC parties, work with the governments. Okay, this is for the moment. I'll come back later again. So Dr. Hossein.
Wonderful, thank you Mizan for your thoughts, your experience, your work, the work of your institute, especially as a model of collaboration with communities, universities, employers, governments in building climate resilience and in support of displaced and resettling populations. One thing that I appreciated in particular was the recognition of the complex lives, displaced peoples live. As workers, as tenants, as students, and that we need to center this. Something I also appreciate about what you shared is that it speaks to the limits of current institutions and frameworks and the creative strategies required to address displacement in origin and receiving communities and in ways that Amali set us up so well to understand and regarding this moment. So I'd like to invite you Ineza Grace to speak to your work this moment, what got us here and where we're going. So nice to have you.
Ineza Umuhoza Grace:
Thank you so much. Am I audible? Oh okay, thanks. As I was hearing to the past speaker, but first thank you so much for the invitation. I think it's an honor to be in this space and I recall the voice [inaudible 00:31:42] of the work that you have done because I think it's a good piece of paper coming out and I think it's going to be in the good hand because especially at this critical moment we are into. So I was hearing and listening carefully for what others were saying. I was, "Oh my God, what should I say," as to make sure that people do understand that no one wants to leave the country and also how can I share the perspective to really make us understand that sometime even the people who are moving does not know that they're moving because of climate.
Sometime it's just being framed on a sense of survival or a hope to a better life because most of the time in their country they're not able to have the ability to live their life as they used to because of climate change. And then I referred to my personal story, I didn't move out from a country to another yet, hopefully not ever, but I did move from my home to another house in the middle of the night because the ceiling of the house was destroyed. I just remember the feeling of being insecure, really not knowing that you're going to be able to have it tomorrow. I joined the work in the climate change sector after I think 10 years. I saw on the television in my country Rwanda, where in particular community women and children were forced to move from one area to another because of flooding and erosion.
Those images on the television spoke to me in the fact that I wanted to understand why do we have to move, why do we have to move when the nature is responding to us? And that is the one reason I went to study environmental engineering because on the television it was framed as natural hazard. So I need to understand why the environment is responding this way. But little did I know that through learning and through engaging, especially with local actors, I came to learn... A country like ours, agriculture is one of the key people of our economic development. Because of the climate change impact we are now experiencing droughts and the intensive rainfall and it's kind of decreasing the agriculture yield, especially for farmers and especially small scale farmers. What that's not tell is that sometime we have a community that's going to move from one region to another internally or even go to one of our neighbors countries because with the hope of or search of a better land that they can be able to grow food for their families and be able to have a future.
But when you look on how climate change impact or loss and damage is being framed, for me I see that the climate refugee part fell into the non-economic loss and damage because it is a movement that you cannot attribute a cost on. But it's also an area that we don't have enough information because a lot of time these stories of how people are moving because of climate change are not being framed or being shared in the community perspective. So in all the drummer I would say in all the confusion, I just thought with the team, we came together to start what we are calling today, the Loss and Damage Youth Coalition. The aim was to really hold leaders accountable to take a action on addressing loss and damage. And to us it means something simple. I mean for me at least right now, because taking action to address loss and damage, it means that a community's going to be protected where they are.
So it's going to be adaptation program or mitigation program, they're going to be as effective as it should be. And then every residual climate change impact that the community should be feeling, especially on the national level, is going to be reduced and allowing each of the nation to thrive on their own means. But when you look on the crises currently of refugee that we are experiencing, people are moving because of conflict, but people are also moving because of climate change. Also, we are having two scenario, but we want to resolve the crucial thing which is why do people have to move? Maybe it's not always because of there's going to be a war, but they're also searching for a better land, hope for a better environment or a better nature for the families or for the children.
So I'll be honest, my first interaction about climate refugee was I think in April this year when I learned that there's a lot of exercise, a lot of initiative on the national level. They're looking into ensuring that people who are migrating or moving because of climate change are having inadequate support that's going to allow them to be safe because a lot of time they're moving but they're not safe where they are and especially women and the young girls because when they are moving, women and girls are exposed to much more higher risk and that's where you have gender-based violence increasing.
They do not have adequate right of sexual reproductive [inaudible 00:37:52] they do not have sanitation adequate for women and girls. And I just came to realize that maybe what we are missing in our fight or our advocacy on loss and damage or addressing climate change impact is to really highlight the interlinkage of what make people move and how they move and how they should be protected at their homeland because that's the only thing that will work. Because excuses of saying that we only accept refugee if they're into conflict or climate change, that should stop because now people are moving because the core reason is climate change. Because when you see the war that is happening in the Sahel and you talk to the community, you are going to understand that the root cause is that they hope that if they fight one nation, they're going to have an access on the better land.
That is climate change. When you talk with the colleague in Sudan, yes they have other political issue, but when you talk with the community, they just hope that they're just going to have an access on the better land with the agriculture yield and it all leads to climate change.
So there's a need to really look on how every effort we are taking can look in the full spectrum, but focusing exactly on protecting the community before they move because that is what is missing. And also trying to ensure that people understand that climate change shouldn't be a political issue because it's a humanitarian issue. Because I think when you're looking in a political lens, that's where we're going to be having framework that's going to be defining who is a refugee, who's not a refugee, what define the criteria of a nation to receive a particular type of refugees. But then we are forgetting that everyone everywhere is vulnerable. We just need to stand in solidarity and just help each other so that we're not able to move in the very first space. So that would be what I would say for now and I'll be happy to come back if needed be. Thanks.
Thank you so much Ineza for sharing your thoughts, your experience, your work, the work of the Loss and Damage youth coalition. I so appreciate the ways you put such a fine point on highlighting the interlinkages. It's in what makes people move and how to protect them in their homelands. I also appreciate how you highlighted how agriculture in Rwanda is a key part of the local economy and local forms of subsistence and this must be factored into providing necessary conditions for people to stay in place and thrive. I also appreciate your naming the uneven experience of risk and precarity in violence and how that's profoundly gendered. In ways that need to be factored into this kind of full spectrum accounting of how people in communities can survive and thrive amidst the climate crisis and in general. So with that, I would like to have us turn to Dr. Hamza Hamouchene. Dr. Hamouchene, the floor is yours.
Thank you Hossein. I'm glad to be here. And first of all, yes, congrats, mabrouk for the brief. I had a quick skim through it so it's on my reading list so I need to scrutinize it even more. I think I'd start with a few thoughts actually. I scribbled a few thoughts that would echo some of what has been said by my co-panelists and I think it's always worth emphasizing those points. First of all, I like the framing of your brief because it takes a holistic approach, an anti-systemic approach. It doesn't address the question of climate induced displacement or climate migration and refugees as a separate issue or in a vacuum, but it links it to the questions of climate reparation and a just transition which entails a radical transformation in the global political and economic structures and hierarchies of power. So I think that's a very important point to start with and congratulations for that brief.
The second point is I live in London, but I come originally from Algeria. So I lived half of my life in Algeria and right now there are deadly wildfires taking place in the country for the third consecutive year. They started in 2021, they killed around hundred people and right now we have almost 40, 50 people dead from the wildfires. And I think those numbers would increase, but we tend to not hear a lot about what's happening right now in Algeria and Tunisia as well because it's touched by the wildfires. We hear about Greece, we hear about Italy, we hear about Spain and Portugal, about the western holiday makers who needed to be taken back to their own countries. For me that lack of coverage for some countries and communities in the Global South reflects the realities of environmental racism, reflects also the realities of the inequality, the global inequality between Global North and South, and also the ongoing hierarchies and who has the right to live and who has more value for their livelihoods.
So I think it's also important to mention this. So I came to that work from I would say climate justice or environmental justice perspective, linking it to the just transition that is needed to take place, which is a radical transformation of the political and economic system we live in from extractivist and exploitative economic systems and structures towards regenerative, environmentally friendly and human respecting structures. And for me, that started from my work around anti extractivism. An extractivism model that has been imposed globally since colonial times that goes back to the 15th century with the plunder of resources and then the fossil capitalism that ensued that put most countries and communities in the Global South as a victim of that predatory model that creates sacrifice zones, plunder resources, exploit workers and externalizes environmental and social costs. So I'm not an expert on migrations or refugees, but the Transnational Institute I work for work on the question of migration and border imperialism as well as the externalization of borders and the securitization and militarism that comes with it.
Also, who benefits from that securitization and militarism. It's usually the military surveillance and border enforcement industrial complex with a lot of corporate actors and militaries all over the world. So I think this is important to say, but what I would like also to emphasize is that while it's important to talk about climate migration or climate refugees and get a legal recognition for those categories, I think we should steer away from catastrophist and apocalyptic narratives that usually get co-opted and play in the hands of that security establishment, the anti migrants and the eco fascist groups who use those arguments to create anti-immigration sentiments and more fragmentation between populations. So I think as my co-panelists emphasized, people do not move necessarily out of choice. So most of the time it's the last resort, but also at the same time I think in the current climate crisis that we are living through, we need to see migration as a form of adaptation as well.
We need to push for the right of people to move either inside borders or cross borders because it is a form of adaptation. People are moving or get displaced in order to find a better livelihood. And in here, as I echo what Amali said around the drivers and the causes of migration, it's not just one cause. It's very unlikely that it would be just the climate crisis or the climate change impacts that push people to move. They have a role but usually it intersects or it is deeply embedded in the political instability, in socioeconomic crisis and other environmental problems. So that's why we cannot just tackle the question of climate migration or climate refugees in disconnect from the other issues. That's why we need to have an anti-systemic view of what we mean by migration and climate reparations. In here, when we talk about adaptation and when I said migration is a form of adaptation, here the question of climate reparation arises because we are living through the climate crisis.
A lot of communities in the Global South, the most vulnerable communities, the most vulnerable people are facing those impacts already. But the money, the climate finances that have been promised for years did not materialize since the Copenhagen Summit in 2009. The richest and wealthiest countries, what we call the Global North or the West, have been promising that money, they promising hundred billion, which is not enough at all we need in the trillions of dollars, they promised $100 billion a year. First of all, most of that has not materialized and what materialized, materialized in the form of additional debt burdens on already impoverished countries, on already indebted countries. This is not climate justice. If we are talking about climate justice, we need to recognize the differential responsibilities, historical responsibilities of course in the climate crisis, the differential vulnerabilities for the climate change because most of those impacts are happening right now in the Global South and also the means because technology is needed here and money is needed here. So climate reparation needs to be at the center of any discussion of climate justice and just transition.
And then I would finish by two points, I don't know maybe I talked a lot, is who can benefit from shaping the response to the climate crisis. We are seeing right now that it is the corporate sector, the military surveillance industrial complex who are pushing to securitize and militarize the response through pushing for more borders, for more walls, for more drones, for more surveillance, for more detention. We need to be pushing against this. We need to be putting forward the right for people to move for a better livelihood. This is one aspect of the climate reparations agenda.
In terms of the loss and damage... And I'll finish here. While it is a historical achievements for countries and communities in the Global South, we need to be always careful and wary about such promises that could be just [inaudible 00:50:54] paper and end up empty promises as we've seen with climate finance. For now, the loss and damage fund facility is a toothless facility with no funds yet put into it. There are no legally binding obligations on countries to put money into it. This is still working in progress. We're going to see what's happen in the next climate talks, the COP 28 in the Emirates. But honestly I'm not very hopeful so I'll leave it here. Thank you for listening.
Thank you Hamza for your reflections on the report, for your reflections on migration as a form of adaptation and the kind of systemic view that this requires. You're putting a fine points on the need for climate reparations and the kind of differential responsibilities and differential vulnerabilities that informs those sets of demands. I also appreciate the note that you moved us toward at the end, the loss and damage funds itself that we need to be wary of the kinds of challenges, opportunities, solutions being proposed or that are informing the kind of direction or shape that this loss and damage fund is taking.
So with that, I'd like to actually on that note, kind of open it up to our other co-panelists to speak a bit more about loss and damage fund or loss and damage fund facility. Not only in ways that might say cohere our work and the different places that we're coming from in it, but also in addressing the things that we need to be wary about as you set us up so well to understand Hamza. So with that, perhaps I will leave it open to anybody that wants to respond here or I can call on anyone. But if anybody feels compelled to jump in, please feel free to do so.
Ineza Umuhoza Grace:
Can you repeat? Sorry, I didn't clearly understand the...
Yeah, absolutely. Thank you for the opportunity to clarify. So the note that we'd ended on with what Hamza shared was the loss and damage fund facility as not only reflecting historic wins falling from an understanding of differential responsibility and differential vulnerability with regard to the climate crisis, but also something that we need to approach in a really rigorous and serious way, especially given the... It's kind of toothless form that it has right now. So the question is how can we make it the best version of itself and do so in ways that connect our struggles and kind of build solidarity across struggles. Actually to speak to the point that you made at the very end of what you shared and so perhaps we can start with you.
Ineza Umuhoza Grace:
Yes, I'll be happy to jump on it and then share that the first thing we need to... I mean in my view, so loss and damage fund was agreed on to be established at COP 27, but it's only a statement. There's no money available apart from different country that did some commitment of the fund, that funding for loss and damage since Glasgow. But when you look on how we are tending to approach it, there's still a misunderstanding because developed country are hoping to go to COP 28 with a set of recommendation on how all existing financial institution can tap into addressing loss and damage. And what that means, it means that humanitarian aid, disaster reduction facility, the IMF should be working much more bigger. They can increase their mandate or the GCF and the GEF to incorporate loss and damage.
But this is ignoring the fact that developing country being asking for the fund for loss and damage for quite some time, even when the disaster reduction was there, even when the humanitarian aid is there, there's still a gap and humanitarian... also all the funding instrument that is there, they're also claiming that they do not have enough funds. So that's why we need a new fund. In my mind, I feel like the new fund should just be... Let me try to use an example that could be a center on really looking on what's the gap, what's the gap of the front-end community when it's happening, when they're facing loss and damage and then be able to respond to that one. But in the modality of establishing it, we need to look on some of the key points that I think my mind should come across.
The first is that loss and damage fund is not development fund, which means we are not begging. For example in Africa, we are not begging for money to build new schools and hospital for the community because we are losing those school, those roads and we are the one paying the cost. So for example, in Rwanda we had a three-day rainfall and we lost 1% of our GDP. So when we are asking loss and damage fund is actually an opportunity for us to regain the development that we are fighting for. The one we are striving for, that's one. And second is that when we are calling for this funding, it should be grant based. This is important piece because we are learning from the experience from the 100 billion goal as the colleague pointed out because even if they say the commitment is there accessing that money is being a debt burden to us.
And now we are aware and because we are aware and when you look on how the other mechanisms, financial mechanisms was established, we were not in the room. So technically we just found ourself to be having this modality of financial mechanisms that's going to be responding to us. But this time because we're in the room and we're aware of all the thing that was not working, that's why we want it to be grant-based and ensuring that it's very accessible to those who are vulnerable. The other thing that we have to look on is the scale and the speed of how the fund is going to be disseminated because we are facing the requirement for example, to do a 100 page, for able to access a fund in the climate finance fund. And that's not the modality that we need to, especially when we're looking about loss and damage.
We need something that is fit for purpose, which mean if a country like Bangladesh is hit by a flood. In just 24 hours or one day or at least 24 hours, the community in Bangladesh should be able to be safe, be secured, and be able to breathe back faster and better. The same modality that Germany is using when they're having flooding or Florida is using when they're having flooding is the same mechanism we want on international level without having the burden because we know we are experiencing the issue, this issue, but we also know that we're not the root cause. But we do also understand that even if we are the most vulnerable, we are not the only vulnerable because community also in developed country are also vulnerable. That's why you hear when Canada, they're having wildfire, there's also loss on damage because we are losing natural habitant of the community. We are also losing biodiversity.
But the mechanisms respond should be inclusive and equally accessible. But then taking into account those have been vulnerable for quite a long time and those which for whom the voices were kind of not in the room for a long time and then trying to prioritize it. Sometimes I like to think that what do one need to do is to... Developed country need to stop in a way because developing country is facing loss and damage. We know how to deal with immigration, we know how to deal with the sustainable agriculture for communities. So we have already existing modalities on our national level.
So they need to trust developing country to drive the change or to drive how loss and damage should be addressed because we are the one who been experiencing this impact for a longer time than it happen. And we are the one who have clear modality or trigger point or trials that we did to try to protect our community and it's been working because we are still here even if some are dying, which is unfortunate, but some of us are still here and we have the hope that together we can just be able to create a proper solution for everybody.
So that will be our goal for this one and I'll be happy to come back. Thanks.
Thank you so much for all of this. Yeah, just really appreciating the fine point you're putting on these demands for it not being a development fund, that it should be grant-based, that it should be quickly and readily deployed and that it should always defer to the needs, priorities and strategies of peoples at the Global South in the first place. And so with that I'd like to invite Amali Tower, Mizan Khan, you all to reflect on this moment and perhaps opportunity or set of challenges that accompany it.
Let me jump in if that's okay. Just a couple of things I want to say based on your question now Hossein, but also some of the policy discussions in the previous. I think to frame it, I think this is a question that's going to continue to come to the fore is displacement, loss and damage. And I'm in two minds about the Global North driving even defining what loss and damage is because it completely ignores and negates the fact that we have a a problem of a lack of representation and inclusion. Let me be very clear that those are two separate things. You can have people who might represent and speak to what some of the impacts of climate change are that they're going through, but that doesn't necessarily all... I mean you have to be intentional about how do you include them in the decision making processes. So that's one. Secondly in my mind of course displacement is loss and damage because it strips people from the right of choice.
There's a problem in that displacement is understood as distress as not of your own doing some external forces has caused you to have to move. Let's forget for a second what the driver or the external force might be. But that's sort of an understanding. Migration and it's worth mentioning there is no definition for a migrant. We have no international system that provides protections for migrants. We have human rights laws that we have all sort of said we will provide to all human beings and in context of migration to migrants, but there's no enforceable mechanisms for that. So the system's designed to help us or rather force us to think of migration as choice. I would say when you think about climate driven displacement, the migration isn't a choice. That's distress migration, that's survival migration. So what that brings about is a huge lack of understanding, data and gaps and knowledge and it's knowledge sharing.
I don't mean modeling, I don't mean numbers because we have plenty of projections and all they do is lead to more fearmongering, xenophobia and border security as Hamza was saying, and do nothing to advance protections. We can have projections over here, but if they don't do anything to advance protections, you got to ask yourself why is the Global North so interested in modeling projections and that's it because where do we go with that? We've seen what the response of that is. That is to say, "Hey, securitize and militarize your borders." So with that said I completely want to echo what Ineza was saying. It has to be informed by affected populations. It's grants, not loans. We already have a dead injustice, we know this, we need new sources of funding, not humanitarian aid, not development aid. And instead the conversation needs to be how do humanitarian or development actors play a role in funding that is for local communities that should be locally led, locally accessible and immediately accessible.
And we have some mechanisms that have helped us understand in the humanitarian sector, if you look at post tsunami in Southeast Asia, we had the central emergency response fund that was created understanding fully well that the humanitarian system, it was the delays that cost people's lives. The other problem with the loss and damage funding is we should be very careful not to think about it as response mechanisms. Loss and damage needs to be preparatory. Loss and damage can help fund adaptation in place or externally. Loss and damage can help fund disaster risk reduction to move people out of harm's way and harm isn't defined only as moving someone out of the way so that we can reduce the death toll. Harm needs to be described as how do you rebuild the things that are lost by climate events and disasters. If you're a farmer, you might lead with climate being your single cause of problems, challenges even feels like persecution to you rather than conflict.
We have a forthcoming report from Kenya very soon. We went to nine different places throughout the country and Kenya's a middle income country, but the ravages of the Horn of Africa drought and flooding slow onset and sudden onset events that are happening. I had refugees say to me, "Of course we're not going to disclose how much climate is a factor. We refugees know fully well that we don't want to be sent back so we know that we want to be protected." Another refugee said to me, "It is better to be fleeing conflict than climate because at least when fleeing conflict as I did, you can hide in the forest as I did. How are you going to hide from hunger? How are you going to hide from thirst?" That's almost directly what he said to said to me.
And this type of information needs to be in the international policymaking arena and ask yourselves, I mean all of us can ask ourselves, when's the last time you heard such things at a COP? When's the last things you heard such things at UNGA. So these communities need to be brought in. The other thing too is common but differentiated responsibilities in respective capacities. This is not, everyone pays the same fair share. No, we already know that there are CBDR principles that need to assign responsibility to the climate polluting countries and we have the polluter pay principle that helps understand that.
Insurance, which is what everyone is talking about. Let me just point out Florida, six insurance companies have pulled out of Florida. So that should be a guide and illustrative to us of private sector insurance mechanisms are... It's a risk assessment and if the climate tipping points are going to exceed policy points of an insurance premium that's not going to be a lasting solution. So that's why we need to think about... There's conversations happening about a newly qualified goal and that needs be something that's enforceable and not this 100 billion that got thrown out in 2009 and has never yet to be implemented. It has to be a number that's agreed to, is enforceable and is actually available to communities on a recurring basis. I think those are the last things I wanted to say on that. Thanks.
Thank you so much for all of that. Truly such necessary and incisive calls to action, assessments of the situation and identification of needs going forward. With that, I'd like to invite you, Mizan Khan to reflect on this as well if you have anything that you'd like to share.
Thank you Dr. Hossein. [inaudible 01:08:34] the thoughts that already have been shared by the fellow panelists. First about, let me share a few thoughts about your research on petro persecution. I like this terminology, petro persecution and there are excellent thoughts with the historical colonial perspective. That is what we from the Global South must support that this climate injustice has not started from the 1990s, but goes back to centuries old exploitation and extraction. And now my suggestion would be Dr. Hossein to ground truth your ideas at the national and local levels, for example, about the petro persecution that you have been discussing conceptually is very good ideas it contains now, I think in future research you can do ground truthing and along that line in Bangladesh we are generating evidence base on loss and damage, focusing on displacement for example. Because there are different types of human mobility in the vulnerable hottest spot areas. For example, there are forced migration both from rapid onset events as well as slow onset events. And slow onset events, in fact are more poisonous and slow poison killer.
Over time it kills more people than the rapid onset events. But these slow onset events don't figure in CNN news or TV footage of BBC, et cetera. So they are the neglected species. So we need to bring those faces out into the news media. So generating evidence base in the Global South on displaced people, on forced migration, on voluntary migration as well as on trapped population because for migration from moving out of your space, you'll need some resources. And many poor communities don't have. So they are trapped in the old unbearable spaces that they continue their lives. So this is one area. The other areas that the Global South researchers, policy makers do is to develop, for example, national internal displacement strategy, climate induced displacement strategy. Bangladesh has, for example, adopted countrywide strategy for internally displaced, climate induced and disaster displaced persons.
There are provisions for skilled development in those vulnerable hot spots, giving them proper training for diversification of the livelihoods, et cetera. So I think we need globally, along also the university networks, we need to devise a list of research, potential policy oriented research work focusing on human displacement. This is focused on internal and internationally we need to strengthen our voices so that we can have a kind of global climate refugee protection law because the [inaudible 01:12:32], for example, or what Nansen initiative or PDD is doing, is not something worth that these vulnerable communities really need. UN Secretary General and the task force for climate displacement, they are very much in favor of having kind of some protection regime internationally because this climate refugee as Amali has explained doesn't have any legal status, doesn't have any legal voice. So we need to strengthen together with the lawyers, economists and migration specialists. So this is over to you, Dr. Hossein.
Thank you for all of that. I appreciate your reflections on the reports, your encouragement for us to take our work in a certain direction moving forward, and for your calls to action with regard to the international community and policy oriented work on human displacement. So I'm looking at what additional questions we might have for our panelists today. Let's see. So let's see. We have one question from the audience. We're being asked. They would be interested in hearing the panelists thoughts on how to overcome or resist the inevitable and nationalist backlash against campaigns for climate refugees. See for example, Italy. If any one of our panelists would like to respond to that.
Hamza, were you going to say something and you're on mute? If not, okay, we can't hear you Hamza.
Okay. I'll just share a couple thoughts if in case Hamza is having technical issues. Just to sort of unpack a little bit of what I said earlier about this lack of knowledge, I think we can't ignore the fact and we shouldn't. And if we really want to talk about effective solutions, we have to really have conversations about what are the barriers, why is there such a xenophobic response to people on the move? It's a fundamental lack of understanding that it is the inaction. It is exactly Global North countries' inaction that is forcing the outcomes that they're seeing at the borders. That's a central part of how we need to organize ourselves to think about how do you have these conversations that don't entice border security responses, but rather help people understand that if countries are for example... Let's take the sustainable development goals.
There are 17 of them. And if we have pledged to advance these developments in primarily the Global South, it's an opportunity to articulate to these Global North countries that where actually loss and damage can be understood as setbacks of some of those very goals that the whole world has come together to enshrine and accept as human rights principles and aims and goals that we want to see push forward. If we can try and bring more understanding into climate change actually is degrading advancements made it might help people understand that A, people don't move for one particular reason. It helps shed a light on the intersectionality of how climate actually widens vulnerabilities. And B, it then leads to a conversation that helps us understand as a global community that systems that select a very small range of reasons why the international protection system is triggered, is not reflective of the dynamics of displacement today.
To me, these are the central problems and they're underpinned by a lack of political will in wanting to understand that. And that's why I said at the very onset we have to recognize that there is a culture of acceptance that black and brown lives matter less and that black and brown lives come with a certain degree of chaos and displacement and then that's okay.
I hate to say that, but that that's a truth in our system and how the world operates. The power imbalance is very much based on that inequality and that racialized lens. And when you see how there were massive floods in Germany, or... I think it was Hamza or someone else was saying, right, you can see how the media shift, if it's happening in Europe, that's a problem. And that's a problem everyone should care about if it's happening in Senegal, not so much. We only need to think about the last Mediterranean, was it the Adriana that happened in June, over 600 lives lost and what's come forth from that? So climate refugees is part of a human rights community that is calling for an independent investigative arm in the UN to look at the fact that over 55,000 people have gone missing. And that is so woefully an under counted number while in the course of migrating, in the Mediterranean alone, it's 27,000. So it's that asymmetry we have to tackle.
Hossein, can I jump in? Do you hear me now?
I do, yeah.
Please do so.
Perfect. I don't know what happened, but okay, I'm glad. I'm glad I'm still here. I just would like to go back to the question of loss and damage because I think it's very important. So when we talk about loss and damage or maybe climate reparations in general, let's talk about climate reparations. I like the framing of climate reparations. We're talking about massive wealth and technology transfer. As my co-panelists were saying, they're not additional debts. This should be grants, a transfer of wealth from the richest to the poorest and to the most vulnerable. This we don't have any disagreement on it, but this is not enough because climate reparation should be seen in the framework of reparations in general, reparations for colonialism, reparations for slavery, and the reparations for the ongoing plunder and the creation of sacrifice zones because you can give some money here while continuing to plunder and impoverish people doing it in other ways.
So that's why our solutions and our approach need to be anti-systemic, which means anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, anti-patriarchal and anti-racist we need to put to connect these dots. In here the question of the radical transformation of the global financial infrastructure. So Macron, the French president and Mia Mottley organized this Paris meeting. And while the discussion was worthwhile, the commitments or the promises coming out of that meetings were nothing new, nothing new at all. No new commitments for new funding. It's going to be based on additional debts with interest rates. So nothing new. It's not what we are calling for, which is the massive transfer of wealth and technology to the most vulnerable people. Let's talk about Tunisia for example, just in the last few weeks, the Tunisian president Kais Saied himself undergoing a huge political instability.
He's a populist authoritarian right now who has been fermenting anti migrants sentiments in the country. He has been forced to go to the European Union, to the Italian fascist, to the Dutch government to sign an agreement so he can get just $1 billion in order to maintain some economic activities ongoing in the country. But that comes with conditions. So that's why we need to call for the cancellation of existing debts and we need to remove those conditions.
The conditions is like two main things, anti-immigration policies, basically the externalization of EU borders to the Tunisian and to the Southern Mediterranean borders. So those countries and those authoritarian regimes becomes the guardian of fortress Europe. And that comes with more deaths, more violence, more persecution of migrants coming from Africa and from other continents and also energy.
So while the efforts of countries in the Global South and their money and their technology should be going into adaptation, countries of the Global North are pushing their mitigation agendas and their decarbonization plans towards countries in the Global South so we can satisfy their energy needs. So we need to really rethink how the whole economy works, not just in terms of the climate crisis, but the whole economy. The economy right now does not benefit the majority of people living in the planet. It benefits a tiny minority that happens to be concentrated in the Global North and some pockets in the Global South benefits the corporate sector. And I think we need to have the analysis integrated into our thinking so we can have an approach, push an approach based on equity, on solidarity and dignity.
Thank you immensely for all of that Amali and Hamza, both of you. For our last question and as a kind of closing set of remarks and perhaps an invitation for one of you all to help close us out. I'm thinking about Amali what you shared about cultures that normalize, re-entrench or extend these sort of structures or what you were speaking to Hamza, the type of systemic approach that's required in order to address things on a kind of global scale and the barriers to both. So the note that I'd like to end us on or perhaps open us up to reflect on is the role of education and of youth. So here I'm thinking of youth not just as climate activists, but also youth as learners alongside the role of education in fostering the conditions for transformation on a kind of grand scale and also fostering the conditions for communities to thrive on smaller scales.
So to put a finer point on it, and as an educator myself, there's part of this that I want to highlight. By education I mean political education whereby people study with one another, learn the conditions of their hardship and their struggles, understand the connections of their struggles to the struggles of other members of their community and other communities near and far. And that this is work that must take place across the Global South and North alike. So perhaps at a set of closing reflections, maybe I'd invite you Ineza since this is the core of a lot of what you do to perhaps reflect on this a bit, if you have anything you'd like to share.
Ineza Umuhoza Grace:
Thank you so much. I would just like to say that that is important and I would just like to add that youth are also actors because we are past the era where we want to only speak. Because when you are coming from a country like mine Rwanda with the inclusive youth policy for engaging in climate action and climate politics, you see the action. Yes, we want to learn, but we also want to learn in a meaningful way. The only meaningful way we're going to learn is for us to be able to practice the solution that are going to protect us. And we want to practice the solution today, right now. That's why you hear a lot of frustration of the young people. It's not that we don't want the voice to be heard. We also want action and we want action to be right now.
I'm very grateful that I am part of a coalition of youth who are taking action today and specifically on loss and damage. We've been able to work with partners last year and we established a first ever grant making council of youth being able to access fund to conduct action towards loss and damage within their own community. This council was made by youth for the youth with the youth. This is the kind of model that we're looking forward to because we want government, actors, partners to really jump into taking the risk and give us the right to take action today because we know the how, we are the generation that is living on the planet with the science that is clear, that is not a planet that is not livable. And the only way we are going to be able to have a future is if we start acting now.
Unfortunately, all the politics or the finance modality of accessibility is not inclusive to the youth, which is why we need to change the business as usual and just driving to the new era with youth taking the lead. Because fortunately enough, we also understand the politics, but we also want to take action for today because we are the community and the generation that is going to inherit most of the impact. But we are not hopeless because we believe that each action matters and we also believe that we can be partners. That's why within the coalition, we are more than 900 members, young people from more than 70 countries, and most of them are also coming from on ground youth organization who are doing activities within their own community with the hope that we're going to be able to have a better future starting today.
Thank you so much for that Ineza, and to close this out, really speaking on behalf of myself, the Global Justice program at the Othering and Belonging Institute, and on behalf of our institute as a whole, I want to express again our deep felt gratitude for you all being here for this conversation today for the panelists and audience members alike being here for all that you do and for all that you bring to this collective work. So again, thank you. Really looking forward to staying in touch and continuing to do this work together. Appreciate you all.
Ineza Umuhoza Grace: