The Climate Mobility Network (CMN) is part of the Climate School’s Earth Network program.
We are a network of researchers, educators, and law and policy practitioners across the social, physical and health sciences with a focus on “climate mobility.” This term refers to voluntary and forced migration that are influenced by climate variability and change, including migration as adaptation, internal displacement, refugee flows, managed retreat, and planned relocation (see diagram below). The network catalyzes research insights and data in order to build capacity to teach, think, and develop policy about climate mobility, informed by an understanding of the complex interactions among social, political, economic, and environmental systems. The network’s activities are guided by a Core Group (see below) that has representatives from six schools of Columbia University who bring a transdisciplinary perspective to climate mobility education, research, policy and praxis. In quarterly telecons the Core Group and other members discuss climate mobility issues, including current crises, and brainstorm targets for research and education.
We have organized our activities according to the four purposes of the Climate School - Education, Research, Events/Outreach, and Policy/Practice
As part of the Climate Mobility course, students participate in a full day simulated negotiation of the Global Compact on Migration in which students represent nation states or international organizations. Here CMN co-chair Kamal Amakrane describes strategies for multilateral treaty negotiation.
The CMN has developed a course on climate mobility (EESC GR5410) that is offered during the Spring semester through the Climate & Society master’s degree program. The Spring 2022 syllabus can be downloaded here.
In addition, the following courses may be of interest to students with interest in climate mobility.
- Human Populations and Sustainable Development (UN3400)
- Global Governance: Climate Change & Migration (INAF U6343)
- Migration and Human Development (INAF U6173)
- Protecting Children in Humanitarian Settings
- Psychosocial and Mental Health Issues in Forced Migration (POPF P8683)
- Lessons (Un)Learned in Humanitarian Assistance (POPF P9691)
- Forced Migration Practicum (POPF P8688)
As part of the NSF project on Drivers of Migration in West Africa, CMN members conducted a workshop on systems thinking and migration modeling in Saly, Senegal, involving regional academics and NGO representatives. The result is an agent based model (ABM) that is under development.
The CMN grew out of and subsequently has facilitated a number of research projects. These include:
- An NSF-funded project, Disentangling the Complex Drivers of Migration in West Africa (2019-2023), has helped foster collaboration across three Climate School centers - Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO), Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), and the Center for Climate Systems Research (CCSR) - as well as the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA). (PI: Richard Seager)
- An Earth Frontiers project, Troubled Teleconnections: Climate, COVID and Migration in Central America (2021-2023), which involves CIESIN and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI). (PI: Susana Adamo)
- A DOD Minerva project, Comparing Underlying Drivers of South-North Migration in Central America and West Africa (2022-2024), builds on the NSF and Earth Frontiers projects and includes collaborators from CIESIN, LDEO, CCSR and the IRI, as well as collaborators at Oregon State University. (PI: Alex de Sherbinin)
- CIESIN has led climate mobility modeling work for the Africa Climate Mobility Initiative (2021-2022), and prior to that led modeling for the World Bank’s Groundswell report series. A forthcoming project will seek to project climate mobility in the Greater Caribbean region using a general equilibrium model. (PI: Alex de Sherbinin)
- The Columbia Water Center and CCSR have a project with DOD MURI on modeling climate-related displacement and refugee flows in Africa, under the leadership of collaborators at the University of Florida. (PI: Upmanu Lall; co-PI: Michael Puma)
- The CMN’s chair, Alex de Sherbinin, is the section chief editor for a new section on Climate Mobility at Frontiers in Climate (submissions are welcome!)
-The Climate School is an official research partner of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and has ongoing collaborations with the World Bank and UNHCR.
Presentation by CMN member and Columbia University Professor Lisa Dale on Wildfire in the American West at the 2021 Managed Retreat conference.
The CMN co-organized with Princeton University a first ever Climate Mobility Research Symposium of New York area climate mobility researchers on 16 September 2022.
A major biannual event hosted by the Climate School led by CMN researchers is the Managed Retreat conference, which was organized in 2019 and 2021. The conference will be held for the third time from 21-23 June 2023, with a focus on Habitability and Mobility in an Era of Climate Change.
CMN co-chairs Kamal Amakrane and Alex de Sherbinin served as panelists during this conference, jointly organized by the German Foreign Ministry, the White House, and the US Department of State.
Many of the CMN research activities feed into the fourth purpose, which is broadly centered around social goals. The Africa Climate Mobility Network (ACMI), led by CMN co-chair Kamal Amakrane, heavily emphasizes the translation of research for policy development on the continent. ACMI is sponsored by the African Union Commission and involves partners at the International Organization for Migration, UN Development Programme, UN Framework Commission on Climate Change, and the World Bank.
Michael Doyle, CMN core group member and University Professor, continues activities related to the Model International Mobility Convention, which includes provisions for climate-related cross-border displacement. Alex de Sherbinin and Susana Adamo are on the Advisory Group for the Platform on Disaster Displacement, and de Sherbinin also serves on two World Bank committees: The Academic Advisory Committee to World Bank 2023 World Development Report, which will focus on international migration, and the Knowledge Management for Migration and Development (KNOMAD) expert roundtable on urban studies perspectives on climate migration.
Since its establishment in 2021, CMN core group members have participated in a number of policy-related round tables and expert groups on climate mobility organized by foreign policy think tanks such as Refugees International, the Woodrow Wilson Center, Princeton’s Center for International Security Studies, and University of Pennsylvania’s Perry World House.