Southeast Asia is one of the world’s most vulnerable regions to natural hazards, experiencing numerous disasters annually. Such disasters, including typhoons, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanos, floods, droughts forest fires, and landslides, often trigger displacement and migration, primarily within national borders but also abroad. Given many countries’ high exposure and current adaptive capacity, Southeast Asia is also increasingly facing the negative impact of climate change through rising sea levels and rainfall variability that threaten human settlements, infrastructure, natural resources and associated livelihoods. While recognizing that natural hazards contribute to human mobility in Southeast Asia, in many circumstances such movements occur within a complex environment impacted by wide variety of social, political and economic factors including poverty, a growing demand for foreign labour, increased urbanization, violence, and conflict.
Southeast Asia Regional Consultation
This background paper informs the Nansen Initiative Southeast Asian Regional Consultation to be held in Manila, Philippines from 15-17 October 2014, which will explore the issue of human mobility (displacement, migration and planned relocation) in the context of disasters and climate change in the Southeast Asia. Launched by the Governments of Norway and Switzerland in October 2012, the Nansen Initiative is a state-led, bottom-up consultative process intended to build consensus on the development of a protection agenda addressing the needs of people displaced across international borders in the context of natural hazards, including those linked to the effects of climate change. To feed the Nansen Initiative process with practical experiences and build consensus, inter-governmental Regional Consultations and Civil Society Meetings are taking place in the Pacific, Central America, the Horn of Africa, Southeast Asia, and South Asia over the course of 2013 to 2015. The Southeast Asian Civil Society meeting was held in Bangkok, Thailand from 30 June to 1 July 2014. Outcome documents from all of the Regional Consultations contain recommendations for further action at the community, national, regional and international levels.
More than 100 participants representing governments of nine countries from Southeast Asia, including Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Viet Nam, as well as representatives from Australia, Germany, Haiti, Japan, the Nansen Initiative and its Chairmanship, and representatives from regional and international organizations, UN Agencies, civil society and research institutions, met in Manila, Philippines from 15-17 October 2014 for the fourth Nansen Initiative Regional Consultation under the theme “Human Mobility in the Context of Disasters and Climate Change in Southeast Asia.” The participants expressed their appreciation to the Government of the Philippines for hosting and the Chairmanship of the Nansen Initiative for supporting this important consultation.
The overall objectives of the Nansen Initiative Southeast Asian Regional Consultation were to identify specific challenges and opportunities that the region faces related to disasters, climate change, and human mobility and to develop practical, policy and programmatic recommendations on how to address these challenges at national, regional and international levels. The Consultation brought together more than 100 participants representing governments of nine countries from Southeast Asia, including Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Viet Nam, as well as representatives from Australia, Germany, Haiti, Japan, the Nansen Initiative and its Chairmanship, and representatives from regional and international organizations, UN Agencies, civil society and research institutions. On the third day, participants presented the Summary of Conclusions, which contains recommendations that require action at the community, national, regional and international level (Chapter I.2) to enhance regional and international efforts to address the needs and challenges associated with human mobility in the context of disasters
and climate change.
CLUSTERS AND HUBS: TOWARD A REGIONAL ARCHITECTURE FOR VOLUNTARY ADAPTIVE MIGRATION IN THE PACIFIC
Bruce Burson and Richard Bedford
Pacific peoples have had to contend with and adapt to a multiplicity of disruptive and destructive geological and extreme weather events for centuries. While temporary internal migration and displacement have featured as a response to the events in many instances, the current concern about the effects of climate change in the region has generated discussion about the extent to which future disasters or slow‑onset environmental degradation will lead to increased cross‑border mobility or displacement. This research was commissioned to follow up on recommendations from the Nansen Initiative’s Pacific Regional Consultation held in May 2013 which concluded that, while having to leave one’s country was the least preferred option for Pacific peoples, cross‑border mobility in the context of natural disasters and environmental degradation was a reality in the Pacific region which demanded that states begin to plan for movement now. It was recognized that voluntary migration abroad was only one way, within a set of broader policy options, to prevent future displacement and adapt to climate change.
DISASTER RELATED HUMAN MOBILITY WITHIN RELEVANT PACIFIC REGIONAL LAWS, POLICIES AND FRAMEWORKS
A. Gero, Institute for Sustainable Futures,University of Technology, Sydney
As small island states in a vast ocean, Pacific Island Countries (PICs) are highly vulnerable to natural disasters, including extreme weather events, earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions. There is mounting evidence that climate change is altering the patterns of weather‑related disasters globally, including slow onset events like droughts, sea level rise and rapid onset events like tropical cyclones, flooding and severe storms (IPCC, 2012; IPCC, 2013; Knutson et al., 2010). The direct and indirect impacts of climate change, coupled with ongoing development challenges, are becoming increasingly visible in particular parts of the Pacific region today.
LAND AND HUMAN MOBILITY IN THE PACIFIC: THE EFFECTS OF NATURAL DISASTERS
This report is a further output of the Pacific Regional Consultation. The consultation outcomes identified land issues as a key challenge for measures to address disaster‑related human mobility in the Pacific.
The outcomes document recommended actions to ensure, in circumstances of displacement or relocation:
• adequate mechanisms and/or safeguards to prevent and solve conflicts over land and resources due to factors such as cultural diversity or population growth.
• measures such as land audits, demarcation of uncontested boundaries and community land mapping to facilitate the identification of land.
PACIFIC DIASPORA: MOBILITY, TRANSNATIONALISM, AND IDENTITY OF TUVALU
Based on diverse dynamics of motivations, a large number of the Pacific Islanders have formed diasporic communities in metropolitan countries beyond boundaries. Transnational migration is not a new phenomenon among them as these practices with the continuous flow of remittances have been central to the socioeconomic development of Pacific microstates since the post-colonial era. This paper explores the questions of the impact of transnational migration of the Pacific Islanders and their maintenance of cultural values through their community activities. The findings I present here are based on qualitative analysis of transnational migration among the several Tuvaluan immigrant communities in Auckland, New Zealand. The Pacific diasporic islanders maintain their strong links to their homelands in multiple and complex ways, and the forms of mobility and transnationalism continue to shape their lives.