In the framework of the 7th International Aesop Sustainable Food Planning Conference, “Localizing Urban food strategies. Farming cities and performing rurality”(Torino, Campus Luigi Einaudi, 8th October 2015) the Unesco Chair for Sustainable Development and Management of Territory organizes the special session

Food Dynamics. Climate change, environmental migration and food security

Organized in collaboration with
UNESCO Chair on World Food Systems SuprAgro, University of Montpellier
UNESCO Chair in Population, Migrations and Development, Sapienza University of Rome

mondo1People migrate for many different reasons: the causes include social, political, economical and environmental aspects.
The numbers of the humanitarian emergency of environmental refugees are alarming: according to the most widely used estimate, about 200- 250 million environmental refugee will be forced to leave their homes by 2050, this means about 6 million of environmental refugees every year.
Rising sea levels, desertification, risks of drought and severe floods, resource scarcity and loss of soil productivity are the main factors that cause refugees and population displacements. Migrations caused by an increase in sea level is the most considerable and, contrarily to displacements caused by hurricanes and droughts, is an irreversible phenomenon.
However the problem is not confined to climate change: industrial and political decision, such as construction of dams, caused equally a large number of migrants due to destruction of living and working environment.

To tackle the problem of population displacement it is very important to consider the link between climate change, migration and international security. Climate change and environmental destruction can lead to violent conflicts around the world especially in vulnerable and poor countries. The Darfur war in 2007, the Arab Spring in 2011, and nowadays the Siria war are examples that show how political tensions mixed with environmental degradation can generate conflicts. If war was the principal cause for masses immigration until some years ago, today global warming represents the leading element for population displacement. But up to now there is no legal recognition for climate refugees.

Environmental migrants needs to be protect by international law as victims of climate change that is due also to human activities which have been carried out in countries others than those of origin of refugee. Currently existing EU humanitarian strategy are not adequate to respond to the challenges of environmental migrants. It is requested an effective EU common climate foreign policy to identify the structural causes of environmental migrations in terms of social, economic and political exclusion, as well as grievances and inequalities
The identification of an official recognition for climate refugees is an immediate necessity; but understanding that many of the issue linked with hospitality and reception in our countries need to be faced up to a serious collective commitment against climate change, is the first step. These measures are much more necessary thinking that the effects of global warming and climate change are already a dramatic reality in many countries that have been paying a very high price for victims and displaced people. Moreover since environmental disasters cause economic loss the cost for adaptation to climate change should be integrated in the disaster risk management of each country.

It is interesting to observe that only few migrants decided to cross the borders of their country: in fact 80% of climate refugees stays in developing countries, moving inside their owns country and crowding megalopolis attracted by apparent easy gains. Therefore, the urban issue would be a primary topic in international political agendas: it is important to analyse how to face up to the oncoming urbanization process, especially referred to social services, efficiency and energy conservation, water resources, waste management, land consumption. Measures in support of the degraded suburbs regeneration in developed and developing countries supplying them of standard urban services levels (health care, education, transports, waste management) are fundamental.

Finally, a breaf note about the relation between climate change, environmental migration and the impact on agriculture and food security.
The risks of food insecurity and the breakdown of food systems are directly linked to warming, drought, flooding, and precipitation variability and extremes, particularly for poorer populations in urban and rural settings. To deal with these issues it is necessary a change in cultural systems: reducing use of fertilizers, diversification, more CO2 capture in soils and biomass, fostering the roles of forests, developing alternatives to animal proteins, reducing losses and wastes, relocalising, recycling, a transition toward agroecology, circular economy and bioeconomy.


Introduction Dario Padovan, Unesco Chair Torino

Climate change: the phenomenon of forced migration
Maurizio Gubiotti, Legambiente

Climate Change, Human Livelihoods and Migration
Etienne Piguet, Institut de géographie Universitè de Neuchatel

Damien Conarè, UNESCO Chair on World Food Systems SuprAgro, University of Montpellier
Enza Roberta Petrillo, UNESCO Chair in Population, Migrations and Development, Sapienza University of Rome
Dario Padovan, UNESCO Chair in Sustainable Development and Territory Management, University of Turin

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