UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction


VIRTUAL EVENT: Climate Change and Human Migration

09 October 2020, 10:00 am–4:30 pm

Woman swimming in floodwater

This one-day webinar will bring together scientists and policy-makers from South Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Pacific Islands to explore the ongoing debates on the patterns of human mobility in the face of anthropogenic climate change.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to

All | UCL staff | UCL students | UCL alumni






Dr Bayes Ahmed – UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction

Missed the webinar?

You can watch the webinar recording on the IRDR YouTube channel.

Human-induced climate change is responsible for temperature rise, glacier retreat, sea-level rise and rapidly changing extreme weather events. It is disproportionately impacting communities at risk, ecosystems, and livelihoods. The least developed countries and conflict-affected fragile states are more exposed and less able to cope with the effects of climate change. As a consequence, climate change is exacerbating existing social vulnerabilities, influencing disaster risks, and affecting how people migrate both internally and internationally.

The World Bank’s flagship report on ‘Groundswell - Preparing for Internal Climate Migration’ projected that globally there would be around 143 million climate migrants by 2050 from South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America regions. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) recorded around 25 million internally displaced people across 140 countries in 2019 that were mostly linked to weather-related hazards. In July 2020, the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs at the United Nations (UN) stated that the climate emergency is a danger to peace and advised the Security Council to address climate-related security risks more effectively.

At present, climate change-induced displacement is a highly debated topic. Some assume that climate change will create the world’s biggest refugee crisis; others debate this statement on legal, moral, and empirical grounds. Climate change migrants are untraceable in most cases, and their deteriorating economic conditions and health hazards are sometimes said to be exceedingly greater than other migrants. Reasons discussed include wide dissemination of fake news, misconceptions about their existence, contrasting research conducted by a wide range of scientists, and negligence by the top-level global policymakers.

Join us online as we bring together experts from around the world to consider some of the critical topics and ongoing debates on climate migration using case studies from Africa, South Asia, Latin America, and the Pacific Islands.

Workshop programme (in British Summer Time (BST))

10:00 – 10:30  Conference digital platform login on Zoom
10:30 – 10:40  Welcome Speech by Professor Peter Sammonds, Director, UCL IRDR 
10:40 – 12:00  Panel Discussion 1: Disaster-displacement and Climate Migration in South Asia [Moderator: Prof Saleemul Huq] 
12:00 – 13:00  In-conversation with Professor Ilan Kelman [Moderator: Christopher Gunness]
13:00 – 14:00  Lunch break
14:00 – 15:00  Keynote Speech by Dr Kanta Kumari Rigaud, the World Bank Group [Moderator: Dr Bayes Ahmed]
15:00 - 16:20  Panel Discussion 2: Climate Migration in Latin America and Africa [Moderator: Dr Bryan Jones]
16:20 - 16:30  Closing Remarks [Dr Bayes Ahmed, Organiser]


Panel Discussion 1: Disaster-displacement and Climate Migration in South Asia

Professor Saleemul Huq [Moderator]

Dr Saleemul Huq
Professor Saleemul Huq is the Director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) at Independent University, Bangladesh (IUB) since 2009 and Senior Fellow at the International Institute for Environment & Development (IIED) in London. He is also Senior Advisor on Locally Led Action, Global Centre on Adaptation (GCA) and Advisor of Climate Change Programme at Brac. Before that Prof. Huq was the Director of the Climate Change Programme at IIED and founding Executive Director at the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS). He has worked extensively in the inter-linkages between climate change (both mitigation as well as adaptation) and sustainable development, from the perspective of developing countries, with special emphasis on least developed countries (LDCs). He has published numerous articles in scientific and popular journals, was a lead author of the chapter on Adaptation and Sustainable Development in the third assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and was one of the coordinating lead authors of ‘Inter-relationships between adaptation and mitigation’ in the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report (2007). He has been named among the “World’s 100 Most Influential People in Climate Policy for 2019” for making a positive difference by The Apolitical, a London-based public-servants’ networking group.
Dr Bina Desai

Dr Bina Desai
Dr Bina Desai is the Head of Policy and Research at the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC). Bina Desai leads the policy and research agenda of IDMC and is responsible for producing the annual Global Report on Internal Displacement. She has extensive research and programme experience in socio-economic development in low-income countries, including Bangladesh, Ghana, Honduras, India, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, and the Philippines. Her research interests include the structural causes of crises, economic and development impacts of disaster and conflict, internal displacement and migration. Prior to joining IDMC, Bina worked for various foundations and non-profit institutions, and most recently for the United Nations (UN) where she was research coordinator and co-author of UNDRR’s flagship publication on disaster risk, the Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction (GAR).
Professor Tasneem Siddiqui

Professor Tasneem Siddiqui
Tasneem Siddiqui is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Dhaka and the founding Chair of Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) the premier migration think tank of Bangladesh. Her works on climate change adaptation and migration, disaster-induced migration, drivers and impact of internal and international male and female labour migration, migration governance, diaspora, remittances, safe and sustainable cities inclusive to migrants, have been published in the journals of Population and Environment, Development Policy Review, Urban Studies and in different volumes of Palgrave Macmillan, Edward Edgar, Routledge, Springer etc. She led the drafting of the National Strategy on the Management of Disaster and Climate-Induced Internal Displacement in Bangladesh, the national Overseas Employment Policy 2006, and was a committee member that prepared the first draft of the Overseas Employment and Migration Act of 2013. Her research and] advocacy work on female labour migration has contributed to the lifting of a ban on international migration of low skilled women from Bangladesh in 2003. She is in the Global Editorial Board of Oxford Journal of Migration Studies. Since June 2019, she has joined the state-led international initiative, the Platform on Disaster Displacement (PDD), as a member of the Advisory Committee.
Dr. Azreen Karim

Azreen Karim
Dr. Azreen Karim gained her PhD from Victoria University of Wellington (VUW), New Zealand. Before starting a research career as a Research Fellow at the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), she has served as a Teaching Fellow (Lecturer and Course Coordinator) at VUW (New Zealand) from 2014–17 and taught 2nd and 3rd year core economics courses on International Trade and Open-Economy Macroeconomics, Monetary Economics, Building Economics and Project Management. Her Pre-doctoral qualifications include a Masters in Economics from York University, Toronto, Canada and an intensive program on Economic Modelling from the National University of Singapore. She is an excellent speaker and regularly presents and participates in International conferences/workshops and is the winner of the prestigious Jan Whitwell Prize for the best presentation of work undertaken by a doctoral student at the NZ Association of Economists Annual Conference (NZAE). She has professional practice involvement with the American Economic Association (AEA), Western Economic Association International (WEAI), New Zealand Association of Economists (NZAE) and the Bangladesh Economic Association (BEA).
Dr. Bishawjit Mallick

Bishawjit Mallick
Dr. Bishawjit Mallick is currently a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Global Fellow at the Institute of Behavioral Science (IBS) at University of Colorado Boulder, USA and hold a researcher position at Chair of Environmental Development and Risk Management at TU Dresden, Germany. Bishawjit is interested in ‘non-migration of people at risks’ in context of climate change adaptation (why don’t the people at risk migrate, and how do they survive at a vulnerable environment?) and the role of their short-term migration in shaping long-term non-migration. However, his current research (under the MSCA individual grant) focuses on the historical grounding of non-migration (the reasons why people voluntarily remain in place for generations, how the social, environmental and political regime contributes to stay put). He employs both the qualitative and quantitative social research methods in his on-going researches.

In-Conversation with Professor Ilan Kelman

Professor Ilan Kelman

Ilan Kelman portrait
Ilan Kelman http://www.ilankelman.org and Twitter/Instagram @ILANKELMAN is Professor of Disasters and Health at University College London, England and a Professor II at the University of Agder, Kristiansand, Norway.

His overall research interest is linking disasters and health, including the integration of climate change into disaster research and health research. That covers three main areas: (i) disaster diplomacy and health diplomacy http://www.disasterdiplomacy.org ; (ii) island sustainability involving safe and healthy communities in http://www.islandvulnerability.org ; and (iii) risk education for health and disasters http://www.riskred.org

Christopher Gunness [Moderator]

Christopher Gunness
Christopher Gunness is an award-winning journalist. He previously served as the spokesperson for the UN peace-keeping force in the Balkans and the chief spokesperson for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. He worked for the BBC as a producer, reporter, foreign correspondent and news anchor for 23 years.

Keynote Speech: The Potency of Climate Migration – Averting the Crises

Dr Kanta Kumari Rigaud

Kanta Kumari Rigaud
Kanta Kumari Rigaud is a Lead Environmental Specialist, and Regional Climate Change Coordinator in the Africa Region of the World Bank Group. She is a leading expert on climate adaptation and resilience and works on climate policy, strategy and knowledge management. She led multidisciplinary teams on the Bank's pioneering flagship report on Groundswell - Preparing for Internal Climate Migration and on the Turn Down the Heat report series which looked at nexus of climate science and development impacts.  She has worked with multiple countries in the Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean as the Bank's Focal point for the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience - working to mainstream climate resilience into core development planning and for transformation at scale. She is currently leading the Bank’s work on the Next Generation Africa Climate Business Plan;  deepening analysis of climate induced migration in West Africa; and working with countries in East Africa on advancing their commitments to the Paris agreement. Previously she led the development of the World Bank’s climate risk screening tools and learning platforms to support climate informed action, and also worked on operational projects in the Middle East and North Africa Region of the Bank. She has a doctorate from the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom.  She currently serves as co-chair of the Technical Working Group on Environmental Change and Migration of  KNOMAD  - the Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development.

Panel Discussion 2: Climate Migration in Latin America and Africa 

Dr Bryan Jones [Moderator]

Bryan Jones
Bryan is an Assistant Professor at the Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at Baruch College.  Additionally, he is an affiliate of the City University of New York Institute for Demographic Research (CIDR).  Bryan has a Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Colorado-Boulder, and M.A. in Geography from the University of Connecticut.  His research interests include population dynamics and migration, climate change impacts, risk/vulnerability assessment, and spatial statistics/GIS.

Bryan’s current research explores the relationship between human population dynamics and climate change in driving human vulnerability to climate-related hazards with a focus on sustainability and climate-resilient policy.  Much of his recent work is related to climate migration.  Bryan served as lead modeler for the World Bank's 2018 flagship report Groundswell: Preparing for Internal Climate Migration, and remains engaged with the World Bank, the Center for International Earth Science Information Network at Columbia University (CIESIN), and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in preparing a series of follow-up reports.  In addition to this work, over the past decade he has developed novel methods for producing spatially explicit, high-resolution population scenarios, a crucial input to the assessment of potential climate impacts.  Data products developed as a function of this research are currently in use across the global change community, and have informed research cited in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Reports and the US National Climate Assessment. 

Dr Musonda Mumba

Musonda Mumba
Musonda Mumba, a Zambian national, is currently the head of the UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Terrestrial Ecosystems Team, with over 20 years’ experience in environmental and conservation issues globally. She recently became the new Chair of the Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration (GPFLR). In her role, she provides strategic leadership on Forests and Climate Change, Integrated Landscape Management (ILM) Approaches, policy support to Governments globally, developing appropriate policy dialogue and strategic direction around Terrestrial Ecosystems. She has published widely in various journals, newspapers, articles and contributed to book chapters. She will also be the UN Environment lead on Terrestrial Ecosystems for the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021 – 2030), a UN General Assembly Resolution that was passed on 1st March 2019. Before working for UNEP, Musonda worked for the Zambian Government, Ramsar Convention, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) at International, UK and East Africa Regional Offices and as such working with governments on Africa, Asia, and Latin America. She received her BSc. Ed degree at the University of Zambia and her PhD at University College London (UCL) in wetland conservation and hydrology. Outside work, her interests include abstract painting, cooking, running, yoga, travelling, mountain climbing and introducing her children to the environmental world. She speaks English, French, Bemba, and KiSwahili.
Dr Ximena Flores Palacios

Dr Ximena Flores Palacios
Dr Ximena Flores-Palacios is a Bolivian independent researcher and development practitioner who has dedicated her professional career to development issues. She holds a PhD in Public Policy from the Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand. She has worked in senior positions for national and international organizations, including UN Agencies, such as FAO, IFAD, UNDP, and ECLAC. She has experience as a manager, consultant, and leader for the design, monitoring, and evaluation of development projects and programmes. She is also an invited lecturer at graduate and post-graduate programmes in various universities. Her main areas of expertise include climate change adaptation, climate-induced migration, sustainable development, agriculture and rural development, and gender issues.
Luiza Pallone

Luiza Pallone
Luíza Pallone is a researcher at RESAMA, the South American Network for Environmental Migrations. She holds a Master's degree in Advanced Migration Studies from the University of Copenhagen, in which she focused on the centuries-long case of internal migration in the context of droughts in the Northeast region of Brazil. Luíza also works as a Senior Information Management Assistant at UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, in Copenhagen and previously had four years of field experience working with refugees and asylum seekers in Brazil.
Dr Romola Adeola

Romola Adeola
Romola Adeola is a Senior Research Associate on Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the Refugee Law Initiative at the University of London, UK. She coordinates the Global Engagement Network on Internal Displacement in Africa (GENIDA) and is a Fellow in the Faculty of Law at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. Her areas of expertise are development-based displacement; law and policy aspects of migration, IDPs and refugee protection.


Dr Bayes Ahmed

Bayes Ahmed
Dr Bayes Ahmed is Lecturer in Risk and Disaster Science in the UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction. His background includes research into the field of disaster risk reduction (DRR), conflict and migration, climate change adaptation, community vulnerability and resilience, and climate justice. He works in the intersection between conflict and disaster with a vision to help to improve the living standards of forced migrants and stateless population. He is passionate about working with grass-root people to understand their disaster vulnerabilities and producing effective policy recommendations to address their problems. He dreams of a world full of peace, prosperity and happiness.

UCL Humanitarian Institute

This event is organised by the UCL Humanitarian Institute, part of the UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction. The Humanitarian Institute aims to mobilise UCL's research, expertise and teaching to impact global humanitarian challenges and to promote education for global citizenship and the connected curriculum at UCL, through co-produced programmes spanning natural, social, engineering and medical sciences, the built environment, humanities, laws and ethics, creating a global university champion for the UK and aspiring to the vision of UCL 2034. It is also the home of the Global Humanitarian Studies BSc.