The Big Climate Movement

with François Gemenne, Yvonne Su, and Caroline Zickgraf

“The Big Climate Movement: Migration & displacement in times of climate change,” consists of 11 bite-sized videos with academics and young climate activists on the topics of migration and climate change. In this series, you will explore the contested relationship between climate change and mobility, examine the complexity of determining who is responsible for protecting those on the move and discover why the term ‘climate refugee’ is so controversial, including case studies from West Africa and Southeast Asia.

How will climate change impact migration?

What will you learn about in this series? Our experts Dr. François Gemenne, Dr. Caroline Zickgraf, and Dr. Yvonne Su and youth activists introduce some of the main themes.

Does climate change cause migration? Understanding the links

How are climate change and migration linked? Our experts discuss the many reasons why someone may choose or be forced to migrate and how they are influenced by climate change.

How many people will migrate because of climate change?

What do we know about the numbers? Caroline, Yvonne, and François explain why it’s not so simple to make predictions about how many people may migrate for climate-related reasons.

‘Climate migrants’ or ‘climate refugees’? A look at the labels

What terms should we use for those moving due to climate or environmental changes? Our three experts give an overview of the labels and their takes on which make most sense.

How does climate change influence mobility?

Is it migration if it’s within the same neighborhood? Caroline and François explain why “mobility” is a useful umbrella term that encapsulates forced displacement and voluntary migration.

What can Senegal teach us about climate migration?

Is it economic or environmental migration? Caroline shares her research into a neighborhood of St. Louis, Senegal, with fishermen who temporarily migrate to neighboring Mauritania to preserve their livelihoods.

What can Typhoon Haiyan teach us about climate change and displacement?

What was the response to the strongest storm ever recorded? Yvonne describes the 2013 Typhoon Haiyan crisis and the nature of the displacement faced by Tacloban residents.

How can migration be used to respond to climate change?

Can migration be part of the solution rather than just a sign of the problem? François and Caroline explain how migration can be anticipated and organized to respond to climatic and environmental changes.

What is our responsibility to climate migrants?

Who is responsible for ‘climate migrants’? François gives an overview of what protection is already available and how to frame responsibility as cooperation rather than obligation.

What risks do climate migrants face in cities?

In what ways are migrants particularly vulnerable? Caroline and François explain how cities can use climate action both to help the environment and integrate migrants.

How can young people get involved with climate activism?

How can people join the movement? Yvonne and youth climate activists from seven countries around the globe give specific examples for how others can take action and explain why it’s so important.

What can COVID-19 restrictions teach us about climate migration?

Will lockdowns and travel restrictions make people more empathetic toward climate migrants? Our three experts share their thoughts on how the pandemic has highlighted our reliance on mobility.

Meet the Experts

François Gemenne speaking on video in an office

François Gemenne

Dr. François Gemenne is a specialist of environmental geopolitics and migration governance at the University of Liège, where he is a FNRS senior research associate and the Director of the Hugo Observatory. He is a lead author for the IPCC and he also lectures on climate change and migration policies in different universities, including Sciences Po and Sorbonne University in Paris. He has conducted field studies in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina, Tuvalu, China, Kyrgyzstan, the Maldives, Mauritius, as well as in Japan after the Fukushima disaster. He is currently coordinating two important European research projects: MAGYC, on migration governance and asylum crises, as well as HABITABLE, on migration induced by climate change.

Yvonne Su speaking on video in a livingroom

Yvonne Su

Dr. Yvonne Su is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Equity Studies in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies at York University in Canada. She is a member of the Centre for Refugee Studies, the Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean, and the York Centre for Asian Research. Yvonne is a specialist on forced migration, queer migration, diaspora studies and post-disaster recovery. Broadly, her research interests focus on migration and development, refugee protection and disaster risk reduction. She is also the recipient of over 25 national and international awards and scholarships including the Young Woman of Distinction Award and the University of Guelph’s Young Alumni Award.

Caroline Zickgraf speaking on video in an office

Caroline Zickgraf

Dr. Caroline Zickgraf acts as Deputy Director of the Hugo Observatory: Environment, Migration, Politics in the Department of Geography and Research Fellow at UR-SPHERES at the University of Liège. Dr. Zickgraf’s main areas of research are the migratory impacts of climate change on coastal populations, transnationalism, migration and sustainability, and (im)mobility, primarily in West Africa. In addition to her research, she teaches environment and migration and environmental politics at University of Liège, l’Institut des Hautes Études des communications Sociales (IHECS) in Brussels, and Sciences Po’s Paris School of International Affairs (PSIA). Dr. Zickgraf is part of the scientific coordination team for the HABITABLE project, financed by the European Commission.