Human Rights and Gender Equality in Climate and Disaster Displacement: A Municipality-Level Integrated Response in African Cities
At COP26 in Glasgow in 2021, the Mayors Migration Council (MMC) and the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40) launched the Global Mayors Action Agenda on Climate and Migration (the Action Agenda). The initiative responds to two trends. First, people who are forced to leave their homes as a consequence of disasters and climate change often move into cities, and municipal authorities therefore need to prepare for and respond to sudden and more gradual increases in the urban population. Second, cities are themselves exposed to hazards, including rising sea levels, storm surges, flooding, drought and so forth. Growing populations of people in situations of vulnerability, including those already displaced, often live in informal or poorly planned settlements where the risk of secondary displacement can be high. The C40-MMC Global Mayors Task Force on Climate and Migration calls upon a wide range of actors to contribute to building resilience and promoting the inclusion of people (at risk of being) displaced in cities in the context of disasters and climate change.
Significantly, the City Principles for Inclusive Action on Climate and Migration, which forms part of the Action Agenda, expressly commits to a human rights-based approach. Mayors commit at principle number 4 to:
Endeavour to welcome people moving or displaced into our cities, including for climate-related reasons ensuring fundamental rights and equitable access to services, regardless of migration or legal status.
From October 2022 to October 2023, Lund University and the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (RWI), will coordinate the implementation of the project Human Rights and Gender Equality in Climate and Disaster Displacement: A Municipality-Level Integrated Response in African Cities.
The project, which is supported by the Swedish Institute, brings together public sector professionals working in municipalities where climate-related displacement is already a reality. Participants have been selected from cities in Kenya, Uganda and Sierra Leone. The project is inspired by the ‘Action Agenda’ and builds on earlier work by project partners relating to disaster displacement.
Building on the Framework for Integrating Rights and Equality (FIRE), the project supports public sector professionals to engage with the challenges faced within their municipalities through the six dimensions of FIRE, including:
Social norms and context
- Governance systems and structures
- Fundamental rights and equality
- Participation and access to information
- Agency and empowerment
Through a series of in-person and online individual, small and larger group consultations, participants will design and implement individual learning projects that are directly relevant to the displacement challenges faced by people living in their municipality. The combined insights from these individual learning projects will be compiled in city profiles, which will help to highlight the realities of contemporary climate-related displacement, the role of local authorities in addressing the challenges, and the relevance of adopting a human rights and gender equality perspective. The city profiles will be launched at a final project event in one of the participating cities in August 2023.
A second iteration of the project is being planned for 2023-2024, and we are actively engaging with a variety of networks to ensure that the initiative has impact at local, regional and international levels.
Project Manager and Expert
Matthew Scott is the Thematic Leader of the Human Rights and the Environment thematic area at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law in Lund, Sweden.
His work focuses on integrating social science perspectives with international legal standards to promote context-sensitive, human rights-based law, policy and practice relating to disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. His primary area of expertise concerns migration and displacement in the context of disasters and climate change, on which he has published a monograph entitled Climate Change, Disasters and the Refugee Convention (CUP 2020), an edited volume entitled Climate Change, Disasters and Internal Displacement in Asia and the Pacific: A Human Rights-Based Approach (Routledge 2021), and a range of book chapters and academic articles in, amongst others, the International Journal of Refugee Law, the Nordic Journal of International Law and the Yearbook of International Disaster Law. The edited volume was a major output of a regional thematic study he coordinated as part of RWI’s Asia-Pacific programme on human rights and sustainable development. Current research interests concern the role of local authorities in addressing climate- and disaster-related migration and displacement, and how human rights law can contribute to building resilience to pandemic risk.
Matthew holds a PhD in Public International Law from Lund University (2018) and a MA in Social Anthropology of Development from SOAS (1998). He practiced immigration and asylum law before entering academia. He is a member of the advisory committee of the Platform on Disaster Displacement, a member of the editorial board of the Yearbook of International Disaster Law, and a founding member of the Nordic Network on Climate Related Displacement and Mobility.
At Lund University, he convenes the LLM course on human rights law, the environment and climate change, and lectures on international refugee law and international human rights law at the Faculty of Law. He also lectures on the MSc programme in Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation at the Department of Risk Management and Societal Safety.
Matthew is also actively engaged in international collaboration initiatives and is currently contributing technical expertise on human rights-based approaches to disaster risk reduction across eight countries in Asia in collaboration with the Asia Disaster Preparedness Center, Stockholm Environment Institute and the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency.
Read more about Matthew’s work here.
Nordic Norms, Natural Disasters, and International Protection: Swedish and Finnish Practice in European Perspective (Nordic Journal of International Law, 2022, with Russell Garner)
Pandemic Preparedness and Response: National COVID-19 Law and Policy in Human Rights Perspective (RWI 2021, with Elina Hammarström)
The project entails ground level empirical research focusing on local people’s experiences of municipal-level responses to Covid-19 in a multi-level governance framework, combined with the development of knowledge products designed to share insights and promote reflection and discussion within and between stakeholder groups. The research seeks to engage predominantly with individual residents and their representatives in civil society, together with local government actors, and will be designed in a manner that integrates constructively with existing network-based initiatives. Insights are expected to be relevant to actors at local, national, regional, and international levels.
This new initiative focusing on ground-level impacts of pandemic risk reduction, preparedness and response builds on insights derived in the pilot project conducted in 2020, and is intended as an early step in the development of a larger programme promoting building forward better with a human rights-based approach that integrates key elements from the post-2015 international frameworks, including the Sustainable Development Goals, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, and the New Urban Agenda.
This project, supported by the Austrian Climate and Energy Fund, and in collaboration with the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Human Rights in Vienna, examines Swedish and Austrian judicial decisions in cases where disasters and other adverse impacts of climate change feature as part of the claim. The project sets out to improve understanding of judicial responses to claims for international protection in this context and to make recommendations that are relevant for domestic as well as wider European and international audiences, including policymakers.
This project, supported by the Swedish Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), is collaborative initiative between the Asia Disaster Preparedness Center, the Stockholm Environment Institute, the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency, and the Raoul Wallenberg Institute, that promotes and supports the identification and development of rights-based and gender equal approaches to disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation across Asia and the Pacific.
The Future of Human Rights (2020-2021)
This project, supported by the Pufendorf Institute at Lund University, brings together academics from a range of disciplines including law, disaster risk management, philosophy, sociology, and human geography to explore the future of human rights by exchanging perspectives on the origins and purpose of the concept and sharing insights across intersecting themes including migration, authoritarianism, and economic globalisation. These themes are framed against a backdrop of global social and ecological processes under umbrella concepts of digitalization and the Anthropocene. The project is designed to generate ideas and identify interconnections through multi-disciplinary collaboration.
This project, supported by the Swedish Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), brought together researchers from ten countries across Asia and the Pacific to examine the relationship between international and national-level law and policy relating to displacement in the context of disasters and climate change, and the protection of people from and during displacement and the facilitation of durable solutions. Adopting a human rights-based approach, the research consolidated key international standards and guidelines relating to displacement in the context of disasters and climate change and developed a tool for systematically analysing national legal and policy frameworks. This desk research was complemented by field research that examined one particular instance of disaster displacement, identifying promising practices as well as challenges to the implementation of national and international standards. Key findings are contained in a series of national law and policy reports, submissions to international initiatives including the UN High Level Panel on Internal Displacement and the 2020 UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally-displaced persons consultation on displacement in the context slower onset adverse impacts of climate change, and academic publications including and edited volume and a contribution to the special edition on internal displacement published in the journal Refugee Survey Quarterly. More information about the project is available at https://rwi.lu.se/disaster-displacement.
This research has provided a foundation for the collaborative development of practical, blended learning modules promoting human rights-based and gender equal approaches to addressing displacement risk.