Articles & Reports – Climate Change and Migration

Topic Key

Climate Adaption

Climate Change Concepts

Climate Migration

Indigenous Perspectives

Sea Level Rise

Books recommended in the article. (Source: Yale Climate Connections

Yale Climate Connections - Sep 2019

"In the wake of this summer’s record-breaking heat – hottest June on record, the hottest month ever in July – students and teachers have returned to their classrooms. But in what classes should the diverse causes and consequences of climate change be covered? If meeting the challenge of climate change will affect, in some way, nearly every aspect of contemporary life, should it be covered, in some way, in every course? This month’s bookshelf features books about climate change education. The first part covered books that address the general theory and practice of teaching climate change. This second part highlights books that focus on specific subtopics."

Map showing buyout locations. (Source: Harris County Flood Control District, FEMA)

ProPublica, The Texas Tribune - Nov 2017

"It’s hard to find another county in America that has accomplished more buyouts than Harris County. Since 1985, the Harris County Flood Control District — the main entity managing buyouts in the Houston area — has spent $342 million to purchase about 3,100 properties. But thanks to a decades-long trend of increased flooding in Houston, caused by a combination of urban sprawl, lax building regulations and intense rainstorms linked to climate change, buyouts haven’t kept up with the destruction."

Participants in a workshop. (Source: WIPO/E. Berrod)

World intellectual property organization - MAR 2020

"The world’s climate is in turmoil. Extensive bushfires in Australia causing massive destruction to lives (both animal and human), property and the environment have attracted global media attention for months. In the Arctic, there are haunting images of polar bears starving as their natural habitats disappear due to rising waters and melting ice caps, and in Kenya, changing patterns of ocean circulation have created conditions for locusts to ravage pastures. These extreme events point to a stark reality: our climate is changing because of our actions, with serious implications for humanity, ecosystems and global biodiversity."

Sea Level Change 1993 - 2018 (Source: Philip Thompson, University of Hawaii)

NOAA - NOV 2019

"Global mean sea level has risen about 8–9 inches (21–24 centimeters) since 1880, with about a third of that coming in just the last two and a half decades. The rising water level is mostly due to a combination of meltwater from glaciers and ice sheets and thermal expansion of seawater as it warms. In 2018, global mean sea level was 3.2 inches (8.1 centimeters) above the 1993 average—the highest annual average in the satellite record (1993-present)"

The header of NASA's online resource. (Source: NASA)

NASA - DEC 2020

This comprehensive resource produced by NASA's Earth Science Communications Team provides a detailed overview of the evidence, causes, and effects of climate change. The information is divided into sections to allow for ease and accessibility when learning about the data and scientific concepts surrounding climate change.

"Earth-orbiting satellites and other technological advances have enabled scientists to see the big picture, collecting many different types of information about our planet and its climate on a global scale. This body of data, collected over many years, reveals the signals of a changing climate."

(en español)

Children carry bottles of water during a drought caused by climate change. (Source: CAP)


"There is currently no international legal framework to address environmental disasters and climate change as drivers of migration. There is also no consensus on what terminology should be used to describe individuals moving due to environmental factors. The 1951 Refugee Convention and 1967 Refugee Protocol, multilateral agreements that define “refugee” and set states’ obligations for protection, were not crafted with the environment, climate change, or environmental disasters in mind—and therefore do not mention them as grounds for refugee protection. U.S. refugee policy, codified in the Refugee Act of 1980, is largely based on the framework outlined in these agreements and thus excludes these terms."

An example of climate gentrification. (Source: Harvard)


"The term “gentrification” tends to evoke images of luxury condos rising from the rubble of public housing developments and the replacement of community-run businesses with high-end commercial real estate development. Officially, it is defined as the renovation of under-developed neighborhoods to make them suitable for more affluent residents, often resulting in the displacement of low-income people of color who can no longer afford to live in their homes.

But climate gentrification throws in an additional factor: the impending shifts in global climate as a result of carbon emissions."

The header of the Climate Justice 101 article. (Source: CRP)


"The climate movement is changing. And it matters. Chances are you’ve seen it: The growing recognition across the climate community that we cannot truly solve the climate crisis without also confronting the deep inequities and racial injustice at the heart of our societies.

This truth isn’t new. For years, environmental justice leadersrelief agencies, and even UN officials have been shouting from the rooftops about the countless ways that climate change hits people of color hardest and makes poor families poorer."

A rendering of New Isle near Houma. (Source: LA Office of Community Development)

The Times-Picayune - Jan 2020

"Residents of a sinking Louisiana island have until the end of the month to apply for a new home under a first-of-its-kind federal program to help people retreat from the effects of climate change.

The state Office of Community Development set Jan. 31 as the deadline for Isle de Jean Charles residents to request resettlement in a new housing development near Houma or an existing home elsewhere in Louisiana.

The mostly Native American Isle de Jean Charles community in Terrebonne Parish has lost 98% of the land surrounding their homes since 1955, the result of a combination of subsidence, erosion and sea-level rise."

Global carbon dioxide concentrations. (Source: NRDC/NASA)

Global Climate Change: What You Need to Know

Natural Resources Defense Council - Feb 2017

"Record floods. Raging storms. Deadly heat. Climate change manifests itself in myriad ways, and it’s the ultimate equalizer: a challenge faced by every living being. Here are the basics on what causes climate change, how it’s affecting the planet, and what we can do about it...

Climate change is a significant variation of average weather conditions—say, conditions becoming warmer, wetter, or drier—over several decades or more. It’s that longer-term trend that differentiates climate change from natural weather variability. "

Still from Sinking Paradise, Carteret Islands, PNG (Source: UN University)

Tulele piesa and united nations university - jun 2009

"Carterets’ people are facing, and will continue to face, many challenges as we relocate from our ancestral grounds. However, our plan is one in which we remain as independent and self-sufficient as possible. We wish to maintain our cultural identity and live sustainably wherever we are.

While we call on the Papua New Guinea government to develop policy, we are not sitting by. Instead, we now want to see the media headlines translate into practical assistance for our relocation program. And we hope our carefully designed and community-led action plan can serve as a model for communities elsewhere that will be affected by climate change in the future."

"Ryan Reed, a tribal member of the Karuk and Yurok Tribe." (Source: Ryan Reed)

Science Friday - FEB 2020

"Indigenous peoples are one of the most vulnerable communities when it comes to the effects of climate change. This is due to a mix of cultural, economic, policy and historical factors. Some Native American tribal governments and councils have put together their own climate risk assessment plans. Native American communities are very diverse—and the challenges and adaptations are just as varied. Professor Kyle Whyte, a tribal member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, says that many of the species and food resources that are affected by climate change are also important cultural pieces, which are integral to the identity and cohesion of tribes."

An abandoned home in Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana. (Source: Michael Isaac Stein)

CITY LAB - Jan 2018

"Isle de Jean Charles, home to the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw band of Native Americans, has lost 98 percent of its land since 1955. Its 99 remaining residents have been dubbed “America’s first climate refugees.”

'There’s just a little strip of it left,' said resident Rita Falgout. 'There used to be a lot of trees; we didn’t have so much salt water.' Like many of the houses on Isle de Jean Charles, her home is raised on 15-foot stilts to evade the increasingly omnipresent floodwaters. But the stilts can’t protect her from the island’s isolation. Strong winds alone can flood the road, cutting the island off from vital resources like hospitals. Soon the road will be impassable year-round."

Rubia (40) sits on a banana raft waist deep in flood water. (Source: UN)

United Nations - JUN 2019

"Climate migrants have been invisible for many years on the migration and climate debates. Our work at IOM has been focused for over 10 years on bringing climatic and environmental factors to the light and on building a body of evidence proving that climate change affects – directly and indirectly – human mobility.

Hence, it might seem paradoxical in this context not to encourage the establishment of a climate specific legal status, parallel to the existing refugees’ status."

A map showing the shift in the human climate niche. (Source: ProPublica)

ProPublica - Sep 2020

This article features interactive materials that allow the reader to investigate how climate change will impact individual counties throughout the United States.

"Taken with other recent research showing that the most habitable climate in North America will shift northward and the incidence of large fires will increase across the country, this suggests that the climate crisis will profoundly interrupt the way we live and farm in the United States. See how the North American places where humans have lived for thousands of years will shift and what changes are in store for your county."

Edison Dardar, Isle de Jean Charles (Source: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles Times - APR 2019

"This island will cease to exist. That much seems certain. Over the last six decades, more than 98% of Isle de Jean Charles has vanished into the Gulf of Mexico, leaving a frail strip of land just two miles long and a quarter-mile wide. With each high tide and with each hurricane, a little more of this historic Native American land sinks below the surface. Cow pastures are gone. Rice fields are gone. The encroaching saltwater seeps into the roots of the towering live oaks that loom over the bayou, transforming them into eerie gray skeletons."

Joint climate and socioeconomic risks. (Source: UCS)

Union of Concerned Scientists - NOV 2015

"The growing consequences of climate change threaten communities up and down the U.S. coast. But some communities are particularly vulnerable due to a combination of climate and socioeconomic risks...

Fairness, justice, and equity go to the heart of what a true democracy like ours stands for. As a nation, we need to bring those principals to bear as we work together to confront the consequences of climate change."

Emblem of the The Isle de Jean Charles Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Tribe.

The Isle de Jean Charles Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Tribe and Tribal Council - JAN 2019

"We would like to refocus the State’s approach to the Isle de Jean Charles Resettlement, and encourage state planners and policy-makers to honor our rights as they did throughout the design and NDRC proposal-building process prior to receiving federal funding. We are not merely “stakeholders” engaged in a project. We are rights-holders committed to future generations of our family, our knowledge, our ways of life, and our Island people. Our Tribe’s cultural survival depends on it."

Source: Sean McCabe for Rolling Stone

Rolling Stone - FEB 2018

"Politicians inevitably vow to rebuild, to make their city stronger than before. But in the coming years, as the climate gets hotter, the seas keep rising and storms grow more intense, those vows will become less and less credible. Climate change is going to remap our world, changing not just how we live but where we live. As scientist Peter Gleick, co-founder of the Pacific Institute, puts it, “There is a shocking, unreported, fundamental change coming to the habitability of many parts of the planet, including the U.S.A.”

Scholarly Research

First page of the article

Bisschop, Strobl, & Viollaz (British Journal of Criminology) - 2017

"Our study centres on the Isle de Jean Charles but analyses the broader context of coastal land loss in Southern Louisiana, which amounts to 4,700 km2 in the last 80 years (Day et al. 2007). The most fragile portion with the most land loss is the Barataria-Terrebonne Estuary, where Isle de Jean Charles is located. The levee system and floodgates were meant to protect against hurricanes but are now used to prevent flooding from regular storms. This interferes with fishing and oil vessel activities, as well as prevents sediment from naturally rebuilding the land. Inhabitants of the five bayous south of Houma, which are the most densely populated, have started a ‘disorganized retreat from the environment [they] know and love’ (Gramling and Hagelman 2005: 129)."

A comparison of preservation priorities (p. 8)

"Cultural heritage-specific research is scarce within the climate change literature and climate change policy documents, challenging climate adaptation efforts to minimize adverse impacts on cultural heritage. Engaging and assessing diverse stakeholders’ values and integrating those with evidence-based knowledge is critical for timely, effective and transparent preservation and climate adaptation of coastal cultural heritage. This study assessed technical experts’ and community groups’ opinions about the importance of value-based prioritization considerations to provide more immediate guidance adaptation planning and decision making...These findings provide initial guidance to cultural heritage managers, particularly those with scarce financial resources to allocate for adapting coastal historic buildings, and demonstrate the need for continued development of approaches that provide rapid assessment of coastal heritage stakeholders’ adaptation priorities."

Environmental Drivers of Migration Decision-Making (Source: MPI, Foresight)

de Sherbinin, Migration Policy Institute - Oct 2020

"Media outlets, think tanks, researchers, and advocacy groups are increasingly raising the specter that climate change will cause mass migration via its spiraling impacts on agriculture, water resources, and infrastructure, particularly in the developing world. More than just speculation about the future, however, environmental migration is already here."

Source: Government Office for Science

Black et al. (Nature) - OCT 2011

"The effects of global environmental change, including coastal flooding, reduced rainfall in drylands and water scarcity, will almost certainly alter patterns of human migration. Conventional narratives usually cast these displacements in a negative light, with many millions of people forced to move, and tension and conflict the result. Our study suggests that the picture is not so one-sided.

The study, the UK government's Foresight report on migration and global environmental change, examines the likely movement of people within and between countries over the next 50 years. It contends that, although environmental change will alter an already complex pattern of human mobility, migration will offer opportunities as well as challenges. The greatest risks will be borne by those who are unable or unwilling to relocate, and may be exacerbated by maladaptive policies designed to prevent migration. It is time for a fresh discourse — and fresh research — on migration in relation to global environmental change." 

Adaptation Strategies"(Source: Perch-Nielsen et al., 2008)

Rachel B. Isacoff (University of Pennsylvania) - 2014

"Climate change threatens historic coastal communities, and reducing vulnerability through adaptation will not be easy – but it is necessary. Differing values of government agencies and local communities – contingent on attitudes to risk and cultural restrictions on action – may limit the options for adaptation. This thesis analyzes policy constraints for implementing the preventive strategies of constructing levees, elevating buildings and relocating towns in historic districts in the mid-Atlantic coastal region and makes recommendations for proactive, community-based decision-making processes."

Coastal land loss (Source: van Beek and Meyer-Arendt, 1982)

Penland and ramsey (journal of coastal research) - 1990

"Louisiana is experiencing the most severe wetland loss and barrier island erosion in North America. Rates of land loss exceed 100 square kilometers per year in the Mississippi River delta and chenier plains. Rapid sea-level rise induced by delta-plain subsidence and a deficit of terigenous wetland sediment are the primary factors driving the rapid deterioration of the Louisiana coastal zone."

Flooding on Isle de Jean Charles (Source: Julie Maldonado)

maldonado et al. (climatic change) - 2013

"Tribal communities in the United States, particularly in coastal areas, are being forced to relocate due to accelerated rates of sea level rise, land erosion, and/or permafrost thaw brought on by climate change. Forced relocation and inadequate governance mechanisms and budgets to address climate change and support adaptation strategies may cause loss of community and culture, health impacts, and economic decline... Sovereign tribal communities around the US, however, are using creative strategies to counter these losses. Taking a human rights approach, this article looks at communities’ advocacy efforts and strategies in dealing with climate change, displacement, and relocation. Case studies of Coastal Alaska and Louisiana are included to consider how communities are shaping their own relocation efforts in line with their cultural practices and values. The article concludes with recommendations on steps for moving forward toward community-led and government-supported resettlement programs."

RSL rise and marsh persistence (p. 3)

Törnqvist et al. (Science Advances) - May 2020

"Coastal marshes are threatened by relative sea-level (RSL) rise, yet recent studies predict marsh survival even under the high rates of RSL rise expected later in this century. However, because these studies are mostly based on short-term records, uncertainty persists about the longer-term vulnerability of coastal marshes. We present an 8500-year-long marsh record from the Mississippi Delta, showing that at rates of RSL rise exceeding 6 to 9 mm year−1, marsh conversion into open water occurs in about 50 years. At rates of RSL rise exceeding ~3 mm year−1, marsh drowning occurs within a few centuries. Because present-day rates of global sea-level rise already surpass this rate, submergence of the remaining ~15,000 km2 of marshland in coastal Louisiana is probably inevitable."


Participatory development of a resource map. (Source: CCA-RAI)

Climate Change Adaptation in Rural Areas - India - Sep 2014

"This guide is aimed at decision-makers, technical experts and civil society members interested in carrying out vulnerability assessments. Using experiences from India as a context, it provides guidance on conducting vulnerability assessments. It entails - next to an assessment methodology - a rich and comprehensive selection of methods and tools to assess the different components contributing to a system’s vulnerability to climate change. The framework addresses key questions such as 'How to plan for a vulnerability assessment?', 'Which tools or methods to select to carry out a vulnerability assessment?' and 'How to carry out a vulnerability assessment?'."

Aerial photo of Isle de Jean Charles, LA (Source: Ronald Stine)

U.S. Global Change Research Program - 2018

"The resettlement plan is expected to be implemented by 2022 with the inclusion of many facilities in the new location to revitalize the tribal community, including a tribal center and a healthcare facility. The Tribe’s experience highlights how success can be achieved when at-risk communities are engaged in the resettlement planning process from the beginning to ensure long-term successful relocation and maintain community integrity. It also highlights an opportunity for institutions to evolve in more flexible ways to accommodate the growing number of communities that may need to relocate."

Displacement events of 2016 (Source: IDMC 2017)

Overseas Development Institute and United Nations Development Programme - 2017

"[This paper] presents an overview of the current evidence base on the complex relationships between climate change and human mobility to support the development of an informed global discourse across the humanitarian, peace and sustainable development agendas and as a counter to some of the sensationalist claims often propagated by the media. In so doing, the paper illustrates that to adequately address human mobility in international and national policy responses, the links between climate change, displacement and migration need to be better understood."

"Scoring Examples for Direct Climate Effects" (p. 21)

National Estuarine Research Reserve System - May 2015

"The National Estuarine Research Reserve System uses its living laboratories to find solutions to crucial issues facing America’s coasts, including climate change and resilience. The input of land managers, decision-makers, and researchers across agencies was sought to ensure that the Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment Tool for Coastal Habitats (CCVATCH) would provide results that could be directly applied to current management and conservation decisions. Changes in climate have direct effects on ecosystems and also interact with current stressors to impact vital coastal habitats. Adaptive capacity, either natural traits of the system or potential management actions, can lessen the impacts of climate change."

Title Page of Climate Literacy

US Global Change Research Program - MAR 2009

"Climate Literacy: The Essential Principles of Climate Science presents information that is deemed important for individuals and communities to know and understand about Earth’s climate, impacts of climate change, and approaches to adaptation or mitigation. Principles in the guide can serve as discussion starters or launching points for scientific inquiry. The guide aims to promote greater climate science literacy by providing this educational framework of principles and concepts. The guide can also serve educators who teach climate science as a way to meet content standards in their science curricula."

For an online version, click here.

Para una versión en español haga clic aquí.

Cover artwork

Othering & Belonging Institute (UC Berkeley)- Dec 2019

"Presently, the refugee paradigm hinges on the actor of “persecution” originating from the territory where the displacement is occurring. Yet the drivers of the climate crisis are not necessarily where one’s safety or well-being are most threatened due to the effects of the climate crisis. Thus, this report advances the notion that “persecution” is built into our global dependence on fossil fuels and the global investment patterns behind this dependence, and that this notion of “persecution” needs to serve as the basis for a normative framing of international recognition and protection of those who are displaced as climate refugees. Specifically, this includes persons moving across internationally recognized state borders as a consequence of sudden-onset or slow-onset disasters; and persons permanently leaving states no longer habitable (including “sinking island states”) as a consequence of sudden-onset or slow-onset disasters."

Cover page

NOAA/Sea grant - nov 2010

"The purpose of this self-assessment is to provide community leaders with a simple and inexpensive method of predicting if their community will reach and maintain an acceptable level of functioning after a disaster. Experienced local planners, engineers, floodplain managers or administrators can complete this self-assessment using existing sources of information from their community.

The goal is for every community to become highly resilient. The assessment may identify problems your community should address before the next disaster and where resources should be allocated."

Part of the cover art by Ziigwanikwe (Source: Katy Bresette)

"This document is intended to empower tribal governments, federal and state agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), individual landowners and others to incorporate Anishinaabeg perspectives, specifically from the Great Lakes region, into a climate adaptation framework. We recognize the shortcomings of this document in our attempt to incorporate indigenous concepts, language, and cultural practices; a single document written in English can’t fully capture what we intend to express. We hope that the perspectives given here offer users an additional lens with which to view the environment and facilitate a more culturally appropriate approach to working with tribal nations."

Indigenous People's Resilience Actions Map (Source: DOI)

U.S. Department of the Interior

"This interactive map allows users to explore projects being undertaken by Indigenous people across the United States. Users can sort projects by stage and location and gather more information about the specifics of each project."

Residents at an LA SAFE planning meeting. (Source: LA OCD)

Georgetown Climate Center - 2020

"This report is composed of 17 individual case studies. Each one tells a different story about how states, local governments, and communities across the country are approaching questions about managed retreat. Together, the case studies highlight how different types of legal and policy tools are being considered and implemented across a range of jurisdictions — from urban, suburban, and rural to riverine and coastal — to help support new and ongoing discussions on the subject. These case studies are intended to provide transferable lessons and potential management practices for coastal state and local policymakers evaluating managed retreat as one part of a strategy to adapt to climate change on the coast."

Cover page

"The meteorological impact of climate change can be divided into two distinct drivers of migration; climate processes such as sea-level rise, salinization of agricultural land, desertification and growing water scarcity, and climate events such as flooding, storms and glacial lake outburst floods. But non-climate drivers, such as government policy, population growth and community-level resilience to natural disaster, are also important. All contribute to the degree of vulnerability people experience.

The problem is one of time (the speed of change) and scale (the number of people it will affect). But the simplistic image of a coastal farmer being forced to pack up and move to a rich country is not typical. On the contrary, as is already the case with political refugees, it is likely that the burden of providing for climate migrants will be borne by the poorest countries—those least responsible for emissions of greenhouse gases."

Figure from the field guide (p. 4)

Isle de jean charles tribe & tribal council, et al. - 2019

"Community is self-defined and complicated. This field guide does not define what a community is or is not, but it is intended for those communities whose lifeways are threatened by environmental change that has exceeded the carrying capacity of the community’s social and ecological infrastructure. The problem is more often defined as risks to infrastructure, but the loss of lifeways is not irrelevant. We suggest that social concerns must not be displaced in the face of risk, and that cultural continuation and survival is as important as infrastructure. In fact, supporting lifeways in communities with deep ecological connections could well have prevented the impacts now driving adaptation."

Resettlement Site Map (p. 10)

U.S. Department of Housing and urban development & the State of louisiana - jun 2019

"The land where island residents and their families once hunted, trapped, grazed animals and farmed is now open water. Unfortunately, the challenges of restoring or preserving the island’s landmass are insurmountable. So the question arises, how does the state help residents resettle to a new home, while preserving their culture and values in a new place that offers a prosperous and sustainable future? In response to that question, a dedicated team of state and local officials, planners, engineers, architects and policymakers is collaborating with current and former island residents to develop a program for the Resettlement of Isle de Jean Charles."

Forum participants (Source: National Academy of Engineering)

National academy of engineering - 2017

"The future rate and extent of sea level rise are highly uncertain, and responses to higher water levels will need to reflect this uncertainty. Sea level rise was a major topic of the annual meeting of the National Academy of Engineering on October 9–10, 2016, and the second day featured a forum on adaptation to it. This summary of the forum, which also incorporates material from Robert J. Nicholls’ plenary presentation, outlines a rich and challenging set of problems for engineers, scientists, and those who work with them."

Image on p. 21

Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, City of New Orleans, & Greater New Orleans Foundation - SEP 2019

"This report is about how we live in New Orleans and the steps we can take to achieve equity through citywide action on climate change. In our city, African Americans, other people of color, low income families and individuals, the elderly and youth face various forms of inequity and are also vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. 

The National Climate Assessment warns that “low-income communities, some communities of color, children, and the elderly,” are at great risk of climate change that can “exacerbate existing social and economic inequalities...” And, according to the UN panel of climate scientists, the impacts of climate change will be devastating if action is not taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by fifty percent by the year 2030. These are warnings we cannot ignore" 

Existing Taholah featuring the Relocation Area. (Source: Quinault Indian Nation)

Quinault Indian Nation Community Development and Planning Department - Jun 2017

"This document constitutes the Taholah Village Relocation Master Plan. It discusses the process of creating a vision and development plan for the project, establishes development and design standards for ensuring a quality community, determines infrastructure demands, incorporates culture, and sets forth implementing this project through phasing and financing."