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REPORT: Capacity Building in Canada for Climate Change Displacement

Updated: May 15, 2022

With the support of the UBC Sustainability and their Sustainability Scholars Program, CDPI researcher and Master's candidate Sarah Kamal developed a unique best practices report Out of Harm's Way: A Scan of Emerging Global Practices in Climate Change Displacement for Canadian Policymakers and Practitioners. This report outlines emerging global climate displacement strategies to support Canadian policymakers and practitioners in planning for and enabling safe, dignified human movement and resilient, cohesive communities in the face of climate change.

The report provides a deep overview of the ways in which climate change displacement is occuring within Canada and around the world, and then reviews a variety of case-studies from different jurisdictions on how they are addressing similar challenges. The report consistently hits home an important point that, "while anybody can be impacted by weather-related disaster, vulnerable populations like the young, the frail elderly, and the socioeconomically disadvantaged will be impacted more negatively."

And that "due to historical, geographical, and cultural factors, Indigenous communities in Canada are disproportionately at risk. The decisions of persons or communities to migrate is complex and specific to their circumstances. Some choose not to move while others become trapped. Sometimes only some members of a community or household move. Research shows that the option of moving, whether people under stress choose it or not, increases their resilience."

The report concludes that by noting that, "Climate change is forcing a new normal, much like the COVID-19 pandemic has done." Despite looking at cases from around the world and reviewing considerable historical and contemporary research on displacement, the report highlights that, while heuristics for responses to displacement are possible, every community has its own characteristics and will need to think deeply and democratically about how they want to respond. To move forward, similar in spirit to CDPI's other major report, Climate Change Displacement: Mapping the Issue in BC, the recommendations out of the report for Canadians are to:

1. Address the root causes of climate displacement by cutting emissions

2. Raise the resilience of our communities to cope with the expected and unexpected

3. Facilitate the whole-of-society collaboration needed to ensure our collective ability to move out of harm’s way, to find community and shelter, no matter what comes.

The Climate Displacement Planning Initiative will use this report to help develop research, guides, tools, and communities of practice to help protect those most at risk moving within and to Canada.

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