Consulate General Supports Conference on Environmental Migration

Wilfrid Laurier University hosted a two-day workshop on environmental migration on January 21-22, 2016. The event, sponsored by US Consulate Toronto, brought Canadian and American experts on global environmental migration together to explore the potential implications of the environmental migration for North America. During the two daytime workshops, researchers were joined by Canadian and American officials in discussions to help frame a research agenda that addresses priority information needs to support policy and decision-making.

The workshop also featured a public event titled “Environmental Refugees…the Next Wave?” on Jan. 21 at the Balsillie School of International Affairs (BSIA). The evening featured introductory remarks from Consul General Alsace and Max Blouw, president and vice-chancellor of Wilfrid Laurier University, followed by a panel discussion on how climate change and environmental degradation will affect global migration patterns in the coming decades and Q & A session.

“Climate change is already impacting our daily lives, making it important that our countries look ahead collaboratively and act strategically regarding environmental displacement,” said U.S. Consul General Juan Alsace during his welcome remarks at the public event. “In some places, rising ocean levels threaten low-lying islands, forcing inhabitants to seek a safer environment; these ‘climate refugees’ are increasing in number. Workshops similar to this are vital to explore the potential implications for North America.”

Other panelists at the conference included: Elizabeth Ferris, senior fellow at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service; Lori Hunter, professor at the Institute for Behavioral Science at the University of Colorado Boulder; and Dr. Elizabeth Fussell of Brown University. More photographs from the event are available in our Flickr gallery