The Politics of Climate Refugees and International Border Regimes

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By the year 2050 there may be about 200 million people on the move due to climate change, with no option of returning to their homes. What should the world community do to empower climate exiles – in humanitarian and political terms? Two speakers looked for answers: the scientist Sujatha Byravan (India), whose pioneering research explores the politics of climate refugees and activist and writer Harsha Walia (Canada), whose work in the field of migration intersects with climate justice struggles. Moderated by Jennifer Kamau (Kenya/Germany) who is an activist and researcher and facilitates a migrant network called International Women Space. In her keynote Sujatha Byravan highlighted the notion that the ones who are already feeling the consequences of global warming (sea level rise, extreme weather events, etc.) are those who have contributed least to the emission of greenhouse gases. In her response Harsha Walia spoke out against hypocritical policies of the North such as the UN global compact that ostensibly work against climate change but in fact are mere covers for keeping people in the Global South or forcing them into labor migration. The closing discussion of the Berliner Gazette’s 20th anniversary conference “More World” showed that climate justice not the least means addressing the connectedness of climate-related displacement with all forms of migration. The session was recorded at the ZK/U on October 12, 2019, and can be listened to by pressing the play button above.

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