Analyzing Causes and Impacts of Climate-induced Migration in the U.S.-Affiliated Pacific Islands
In partnership with the University of Hawai‘i, the Pacific RISA is investigating climate-induced migration in the US-Affiliated Pacific Islands (USAPI) and its potential impact on Hawai‘i. This project identifies and employs pioneering social science methods and mapping techniques to more accurately link migration to climate change and climate variability-related events.
A central component of the project is an in-depth study of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), examining recent migration trends, both internal to RMI and from the nation-state to Hawai‘i, Guam, and the continental U.S. A quantitative and qualitative analysis will identify factors driving migration. The research model is designed to be transferable to other nation-states or territories within the USAPI and could later be expanded to the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), for example.
A comprehensive map of the USAPI showing current and forecasted stocks and flows of migration over a given period will accompany the case study. Utilizing existing climate data and the latest downscaled climate projections, the team will develop and apply an environmental threat index. Overlaid with social data, this will suggest potential “hotspots” for future climate-related migration. These and other methods aim to examine the extent to which we can identify direct and indirect links between patterns of migration and climate events and impacts, an objective to which the project can uniquely contribute.
A white paper tailored for policymakers will present the results of the case study and summarize the legal and policy implications of the findings. As a result of this project, policymakers and US Pacific-region communities will gain insight into the linkages between climate change and migration, better enabling them to adequately prepare for changes.
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Maxine Burkett, Associate Professor of Law, University of Hawai‘i at Manoa