Nordic Network on Climate-Related Displacement and Mobility 

The Nordic Network on Climate Related Displacement and Mobility brings together scholars, practitioners and stakeholders to contribute to policy and regulatory questions associated with climate change related displacement and other forms of mobility as it impacts this region. By drawing on the Nordic experience, and putting this into a context of global trends, the Network highlights a specifically Nordic angle which will contribute to questions of immediate relevance to the governance of a global challenge. 

Research into climate change and migration from a legal and policy perspective is in its fledgling stages in the Nordic region with only a few researchers focused specifically on the issue, and more working at its edges, but without a central hub to coordinate those efforts. This is the gap that the Nordic Network on Climate Related Displacement and Mobility fills.  

Key documents

Call for abstracts: Disaster Displacement and the Nordic Region

Background

Academic discussion of the legal and policy response to climate related human mobility has paid particular attention to whether the existing international, regional and national legal regimes adequately protect threatened communities. Understandably, that research has tended to focus on law and policy in the places where people are especially vulnerable to climate-related harm: the Global South. The consequence of this, however, that important questions remain for the Nordic region including how climate change might impact human mobility, and, relatedly, what legal and policy options might offer the most effective responses. This Network was established to address this research and policy gap. 

The unique biophysical, legal and socio-political characteristics of the region justify independent attention. The impact of climate change in the Nordic region is both important and unique. Intense rainfall combined with faster than usual snowmelt increases the frequency of rock falls, debris flows and avalanches in mountainous areas. Flat plains are likely to suffer from a greater frequency and intensity of rainfall causing flash flooding, and an increase in storm surges can be expected to impact north-western Europe, including Denmark, while summer wildfires in Sweden are becoming increasingly regular. Climate change also disrupts fragile ecosystems in the Nordic Arctic Region, including the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland. The resultant imbalance in biodiversity and weather cycles have corollary impacts on human populations and contribute to existing pressures on indigenous life and livelihoods. 

At the same time, the Nordic region has seen a 16% increase in population from 1990 to 2017, primarily from net migration (Nordic Council of Ministers 2018). The number of people moving into the region intensified in 2015-2016 when the entire European region experienced a surge in people seeking international protection. During this time, Sweden and Finland had legislation that extended refugee-type protection for ‘environmental catastrophe’ (Swedish Aliens Act 4 kap 2a §; Aliens Act (Finland) s 109(1)). However, both countries repealed these provisions. That laws were introduced but later repealed serves to highlight that there is a need for research-based policy to ensure Nordic preparedness for the inevitable future climate change related human mobility. 


What’s Happening!

Interdisciplinary Workshop on Climate Related Mobility in the Nordic Region

Funding

The Nordic Network on Climate Related Displacement and Mobility was established in late-2019 with funding provided by the Joint Committee for Nordic Research Councils in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NOS-HS). The funding supports two workshops which will be held over the course of 2020-2023, with further funding being sought to extend the life of the Network beyond the grant period and to support other relevant events. 

Partners

Miriam Cullen, University of Copenhagen, Denmark 

Magdalena Kmak, University of Åbo and University of Helsinki, Finland 

Team 

Matthew Scott

Matthew Scott

Leader of the Human Rights and the Environment Thematic Area

E-mail: matthew.scott@rwi.lu.se

Matthew Scott is senior researcher and leader of the Human Rights and the Environment thematic area at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law. He is also adjunct senior lecturer at the Faculty of Law at Lund University. 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. Current research interests concern the role of local authorities in addressing climate- and disaster-related migration and displacement.

He holds a PhD in Public International Law from Lund University and a MA in Social Anthropology of Development from SOAS. He practiced immigration and asylum law in London before entering academia. He is a member of the advisory committee of the Platform on Disaster Displacement and 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 introduction to human rights law course and the short course on human rights law, the environment and climate change on the LLM in international human rights law programme. He also lectures on the MSc programme in disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. Matthew is also actively engaged in international collaboration initiatives and is currently working with municipal authorities in Nairobi, Kampala and Freetown to explore human rights-based approaches to addressing climate-related displacement.

For further updates on his research, please refer to his Research profile:

https://portal.research.lu.se/en/persons/matthew-scott

 

Affiliated projects

ClicNord – Climate Change of Critical Infrastructure in Remote Areas in the Nordic countries 

Image: John Towner, Unsplash 

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