• Climate-Induced Community Relocations: Creating An Adaptive Governance Framework Based In Human Rights

      Bronen, Robin; Chapin, F. Stuart III; Kofinas, Gary; Schweitzer, Peter; Trainor, Sarah (2012)
      The specter of millions of people fleeing their homes because of climate change has sparked an international debate about creating human rights protections for climate refugees. Though scholars and journalists have focused on the southern hemisphere, this crisis is occurring with unprecedented rapidity in the Arctic. In Alaska, temperatures have increased at twice the rate of the global average. Arctic sea ice is decreasing and permafrost is thawing, which is accelerating flooding and erosion. These environmental phenomena are threatening dozens of the 200 indigenous tribes that have inhabited the Alaskan Arctic for millennia. The traditional responses of hazard prevention and disaster relief are no longer protecting communities despite millions of dollars spent on erosion control and flood relief. Community relocation is the only feasible solution to permanently protect the inhabitants of these communities. This dissertation describes the steps that federal, state, and tribal governments have taken to relocate Newtok, Shishmaref and Kivalina, three indigenous communities located along the western coast of Alaska, that have chosen to relocate due to climate change. The policy and practical challenges to relocate these communities are enormous and clearly demonstrate that new governance institutions need to be designed and implemented to specifically respond to climate-induced relocation. This dissertation ultimately proposes the creation of Guiding Principles of Climigration outlining key human rights principles that can guide an adaptive governance framework. This framework, in turn, will allow government agencies to dynamically transition their humanitarian response from protection in place to community relocation in these cases.