In light of the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis and with climate change a continuing presence on the global agenda, ResearchGate asked the RSC’s Emeritus Professor Dawn Chatty and Professor Frank Biermann (Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University) whether governments are learning any lessons from the current crisis in preparing for climate change refugees. The interview addresses questions such as whether and how governments could have been better prepared for the current crisis, whether the refugee convention recognizes ‘climate refugees’, and the difficulties involved in developing a global strategy for climate change refugees.
On the current crisis, Professor Chatty states, “From 2014, many of us were discussing how the situation in the Middle East was becoming unsustainable - that Jordan, Lebanon, and even Turkey, were not going to be able to handle the numbers of refugees from Syria for much longer, because they were simply unable to offer the most basic survival requirements. It was very clear that once people ran out of their savings they would move on to places where they thought they could find asylum or work. This did happen, and I have to say I am fully behind Merkel and the refugee policy in Germany. If the other European countries had followed suit, we wouldn’t be seeing this current crisis…. There should have been a comprehensive plan of action to handle these temporary migrants - temporary, as I would say the majority of Syrians would like to return home once conditions permit.”
Concerning recognition for climate refugees, she says “The refugee convention is very clear on what it says allows you to be admitted. It really has to be a fear of persecution on the basis of race, religion, political positioning, and so on.”
Read the interview here >>
A shortened version is available in the Huffington Post’s HuffPost Green section here >>