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Our Rebranding Explained: A Letter from the Co-founders

Updated: Nov 22, 2021

We are happy to announce as the Board of Directors, management team, and volunteers, volunteers that the Climate Migrants and Refugees Project is becoming the Climate Displacement Planning Initiative (CDPI). We believe our new name and visual identity fully capture who we are and the work we aim to achieve moving into the future.

Our organization, which began as a passion project among a small group of graduate students, has grown and expanded over time. The original project was conceived as a time-pound, one-off effort, born from conversations surrounding a lack of understanding and planning for climate-induced human mobility to and within our communities. And in terms of the name: we wanted to both distinguish between those who had more agency in their movement (i.e., migrants) and those with less autonomy (i.e., refugees) and that ensuring that both groups were considered within the scope of their project.

The project has grown and expanded far beyond what was originally anticipated, and there have been many lessons learned throughout this process. While we have always recognised that climate change-influenced mobility is not internationally recognized as a legal driver of migration or refugee status, we have come to find that our provocation around the idea of “climate migrants and refugees” has upheld, rather than reduced, concepts we wished to add clarity to. Academics have increasingly highlighted problems associated with the term ‘climate refugee’, as it implies a singular, driving cause of displacement that might ignore other factors such as systemic inequality, conflict, development levels, and so on. In addition, this language also wasn’t fit for purpose within the climate resilience planning realm, within which displacement, resettlement, and planned relocation are still relatively emerging topics.

In considering all of this, we wanted a name and brand that accurately reflected our unique work in the space, the partners and communities we aim to work with, and the energy of our growing team. We sought an encompassing term that covers multiple types of climate displacement - voluntary or otherwise. We also wanted to show that, rather than providing direct services for displaced people, we work with cities and local governments to address challenges facing those who have lost their homes, livelihoods, and ancestral territories due to climate change.

The Climate Displacement Planning Initiative creates space in its name for all groups affected by climate displacement. The imagery in our logo invokes our aim to mobilize cities and urban change-makers to integrate climate mobilities into resilience planning. Most importantly, our new name and branding appropriately considers and acknowledges that we believe that migration is a natural human experience that has existed far before the era of modern borders. Migration, therefore, is not a ‘problem’ to be solved, but rather a part of human life. When and where mobility is involuntary and people are displaced — due to acute climate impacts, like sea level rise, or more diffuse ones like temperature shifts — we believe ethical and effective intervention is critical.

We are excited to continue working with you under our new name. You can learn more about our group’s Mission, Vision, and Guiding Principles here.

We look forward to your continued engagement and support,

The Climate Displacement Planning Initiative Team

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