The Story of CDPI 

How it Started

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The four Co-founders of the Climate Migrants and Refugees Project met while pursuing their masters degrees at the UBC School of Community and Regional Planning (SCARP) in 2015. Several of them had the opportunity to attend the UN Habitat III conference in Quito, Ecuador as part of the Canadian delegation in 2016. 

Connecting the Dots

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In pitching ideas for side-events that the school might host during the forum, the topic of planning for climate migration and refugees was raised repeatedly. While this particular idea did not materialize as an organized event at this forum, the co-founders decided to pursue this topic further and worked to bring this topic into focus in the North American planning context. 

Pilot Projects

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Over the next year, the co-founders pitched the topic of “Planning for Climate Migrants and Refugees” for speaker panels and workshops at various conference events in Canada and the U.S.

The group facilitated a number of events during this time and spoke to hundreds of people, including senior leaders in cities around the world, and the Government of Canada. The primary objectives for these events were to raise awareness, learn, and share best practices from and with practitioners from across various fields of practice to better inform municipal and regional policy and planning. 

Getting Established

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In 2017, the co-founders decided to incorporate as a non-profit to pursue this work in a more formal and sustainable capacity. In 2021, working with an expanded team of volunteers, the Climate Migrants and Refugees Project became the Climate Displacement Planning Initiative to better reflect our focus on those who have faced forcible movement due to climate change.