Shorelines are changing due to storms, sea level rise, and subsidence. Some places will inevitably be under water. Many communities are considering their options, including increasing protective measures and redesign, but few are able or willing to thoughtfully consider relocation.
It is difficult to ask, let alone answer questions like: "Who pays for people to move?" "How do we respect private property while serving the public good?" "What happens to the land if we leave?" "What happens to our tax base?" "How do we honor people's deep emotional ties to place?"
Relocation may not be the answer for every community, or may not be the answer now, but it takes strong leadership and good information to proactively take on these questions rather than wait for crisis to force the issue.
This site is dedicated to enabling this difficult, important conversation.
This site, sponsored by the Consensus Building Institute, serves as an innovation hub for communities, funding agencies, and others to discuss challenges and share ideas and experiments that make it possible to fully consider managed retreat along with other adaptation options, such as rebuilding or redesigning in place.
Current funding sources and mechanisms are primarily focused on disaster relief, with precious little dedicated to helping communities interested in proactively moving away from vulnerable locations. But some approaches to funding climigration do exist, others are under development, and more can be developed with some ingenuity.
Post-Sandy, something within the Staten Island community shifted; many residents, who had in the past firmly advocated for rebuilding, now pushed for a different approach: buyouts. Residents decided to form a committee, which worked tirelessly to realize buyouts for the community of Foxbeach, an approximately 60 acre (27-block) neighborhood of 165 homes within the town of Oakwood Beach. What lessons can we learn from this endeavor?
More examples of how communities are dealing with climigration.
Sea Level Will Flood Hundreds of Cities in the Near Future National Geographic, July 12, 2017
Climate Adaptation Efforts Must Start with Listening – Experts GMA News Online, June 27, 2017
Climate Change Could Threaten up to 2 Billion Refugees by 2100 HuffPost, June 26 2017
About the Word
“Climigration” is a term coined by Robin Bronen, co-founder and executive director of the Alaska Institute for Justice, to replace the commonly used misnomer “climate refugee.”
Read Robin’s work about this issue:
- Forced Migration of Alaskan Indigenous Communities Due to Climate Change: Creating a Human Rights Response
- We Must Protect Communities Who Face Climate Change Displacement
*Banner photo credit: Western Carolina University Program for the Study of Developed Coastlines