The impacts of climate change are increasingly being felt around the globe, in ways often more intense than anticipated just a few years ago. There is growing consensus that the next few years present the last window of opportunity to steer the world in a better and safer direction and to avoid the worst consequences. The scale and ambition of the climate challenge require new ways of thinking and working – across sectors and thematic silos. Achieving sustainable development in countries across the globe will also require innovative forms of social engagement, along with new and improved technologies and collaborative mechanisms. While scientifically informed climate change policies have progressed, peoples’ perspectives, aspirations, hopes and pathways to climate action are not sufficiently understood. Climate change policy is often global by design, but several implementation pathways are inherently local, necessitating improved vertical coherence. At the same time, while multilateral policy making mechanisms are facing challenges to gain commitments, people are increasingly voicing their dissatisfaction with the failures of contemporary political processes in delivering effective and just climate action.
In this context, science-based participatory approaches are key to steer climate action. The Climate Academy programme aspires to address these challenges through a series of dedicated events. The “People’s Pathways to Climate Action – Climate Academy” 2023 is jointly organized by United Nations University’s Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) and Munich Re Foundation (MRF) in collaboration with the UN Climate Change Secretariat (UNFCCC). The International Organization on Migration (IOM) is a special partner for the 2023 academy.
The Climate Academy 2023 will take place in two stages:
The stage II (in-person) event is scheduled to take place in Dakar, Senegal depending upon the COVID-19 situation and prevailing regulations. In case an in-person event will not be possible, stage II will take place virtually as well. Additionally, to virtually engage with interested actors from across the globe and enhance our collective voice, key virtual events of the academy will be open to everyone. The 2023 academy will have a special focus on sharing lessons from experiences of planned relocations. Young professionals, including academics, policy makers and practitioners are invited to apply between 23 February and 31 March 2023.
The growing frequency and severity of negative climate change impacts have given rise to concerns about the long-term habitability of climate change “hotspots” for populations around the world. Differences in culture, circumstance, and identity condition how local communities and individuals within them perceive and respond to climate change risks and impacts, what they consider makes a place (in)habitable, and their perceptions of mobility. Research on human mobilities in the context of climate change shows that moving is but one possible response in the face of climate change risks and impacts. Many people prefer not to move, while others would have moved regardless. When people move, their movements can take many forms, of which planned relocation is just one.
The decision of whole groups of people to relocate is often considered as a ‘last resort’, and with good reason: past experiences show that the consequences for communities are often negative. So, it is rarely self-evident or inevitable that a whole community should move. Instead, the decision to relocate in a purposeful, coordinated manner may be made only by some communities in specific contexts and under certain circumstances. It is vital that when relocations occur, the process happens under the best possible conditions, maximizing adaptive outcomes, minimizing losses and damages and preserving human rights and dignity.
Historical experiences with planned relocations – in the context of large infrastructure development such as dam-building, for example – have often had detrimental results on affected peoples’ livelihoods and wellbeing. With such cautionary experiences in mind, people-centered research, policy, and practice is needed today to identify and establish the processes and conditions allowing people to move out of harm’s way in a dignified manner. Whether communities choose to move now or later, all together or in groups, close or far, to one or more destinations, careful planning, community leadership, and profound participation are required. At the same time, planning is required if people decide to adapt and stay, for circumstances may change and/or people change their minds.
While the decision to move ultimately lies with individuals in affected communities, they are likely to require external support in implementing their decisions, whether they aim to move now, in the future, or adapt to stay. This assistance may need to come from a diversity of stakeholders, in collaboration with communities and one another. Further, this support can take various forms, including but not limited to risk expertise, legal and policy frameworks, stakeholder dialogue facilitation, technical and logistical assistance, financial resources, social and mental health support, and support in finding new livelihood opportunities. Relocation processes, when they take place with free and informed consent, also represent opportunities to correct historical inequalities in areas such as access to quality housing, exposure to environmental risks and pollution, and economic opportunity.
The question of when and under which conditions relocations can occur also poses deeper political and philosophical questions about the allocation of responsibilities for implementing community decisions, about the connections of people and culture to place, about mourning and memory, and the meaning of home in a changing climate.
To further explore these points of interest, we invite applications which address the prospect of community-led relocations at one of three interconnected scales. Work at each scale will need to pay special attention to community involvement and leadership in decision-making; as well as to communication, bridge-building, and the identification of responsibilities across scales. Participants will also reflect on the gendered dimensions of their work, bringing a perspective from one of three key foci:
The Climate Academy programme has three objectives:
The Climate Academy 2023 will produce concrete outputs such as research papers, policy briefs, guidelines for practitioners, and presentation materials for seminars & science-policy workshops. Academy participants and organizers will define the precise format and target audience of these outputs depending on opportunities for impact identified together. The in-person meetings of stage II will be dedicated to delivering these mutually agreed outputs. The Academy will also lay the foundations for longer term collaborations, such as a special issue in a peer-reviewed journal, conference session proposals, and further meetings and engagement with global and regional processes, policy makers, and climate-impacted communities.
There is no fee to participate in either virtual or in-person part of the academy.
We are looking for researchers, policymakers, and practitioners with documented experience of working on the themes of interest to the Academy at one or more of the aforementioned scales. Successful candidates are qualified persons with profiles such as doctoral researchers in the final stages of their research, post-doctoral fellows, lecturers, assistant professors, practitioners working in public bodies, implementing agencies, civil society advocates, or any other organization related to the theme of the academy. Particular attention will be given to outstanding candidates from Least Developed Countries. Successful candidates are expected to fully participate in stage I and II of the Academy. Selected participants are expected to engage proactively before and during the academy and contribute to Academy outputs. Advanced English language skills will be necessary.
The Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) is one of 15 worldwide operating research and training centers and programmes of the United Nations University (UNU). Its mission is to contribute to efforts to resolve the pressing global problems that are the concern of the United Nations and its member states. UNU’s current activities regarding research and training are mainly focused on the environment and sustainable development on the one hand and peace and governance on the other. UNU disseminates the knowledge gained in its activities to the United Nations and its agencies, to scholars and to the public, in order to increase dynamic interactions in the world-wide community of learning and research.
Munich Re Foundation (MRF) is a non-profit foundation established by the Münchener Rückversicherungsgesellschaft Aktiengesellschaft in Munich (“Munich Re”) on the occasion of its 125th anniversary in 2005. People are ultimately at the core of what MRF’s work is all about. MRF’s task is to minimize the risks to which they are exposed. It supports science and provides support, also in developing countries. MRF’s aim is to prepare people to cope with risk and to improve their living conditions in relation to water as a resource and risk factor, population development, poverty, disaster prevention, environmental and climate change.
The UNFCCC secretariat (UN Climate Change) was established in 1992 when countries adopted the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The secretariat to the Convention, located in Bonn, Germany, is the United Nations entity tasked with supporting the global response to the threat of climate change. The UNFCCC secretariat supports a complex architecture of bodies that serve to advance the implementation of the Convention, the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement. The secretariat provides technical expertise and assists in the analysis and review of climate change information reported by Parties and in the implementation of the Kyoto mechanisms. It also maintains the registry for Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) established under the Paris Agreement, a key aspect of implementation of the Paris Agreement.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM), or UN Migration, was established in 1951 and is the leading intergovernmental organization in the field of migration. IOM is committed to the principle that humane and orderly migration benefits migrants and society. IOM supports migrants across the world, developing effective responses to the shifting dynamics of migration and is a key source of advice on migration policy and practice. The organization works in emergency situations, developing the resilience of all people on the move, and particularly those in situations of vulnerability, as well as building capacity within governments to manage all forms and impacts of mobility.
Important documents needed for application
In addition to the general information, the application portal asks for:
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The central element of this programme is a set of three sessions of the climate academies: the first one focusing on Nature-based Solutions and urban vulnerability took place virtually in 2021-2022. The second academy took place in two stages, virtually and in-person (Kigali, Rwanda) and focused on digitalization and energy transition in September 2022. This call is for the final academy of the series that will focus on climate change induced mobility. Each Academy is designed to convene 20-30 participants, experts, and organizers. These include researchers (a mixture of PhD students, post-docs, junior professors, mid-career researchers), practitioners (e.g. from national/sub-national concerned ministries, civil society, local government personnel and managers) and selected policymakers.
In addition, the academies feature 2-3 invited high-level speakers/mentors. Each academy leads to the coordinated production of several publications in varying formats: ranging from academic papers to policy briefs. These contributions provide specific scientific inputs as well as support the climate change adaptation (and mitigation wherever applicable) related policy formulation and implementation mechanisms of relevant stakeholders.
The academy series is designed to directly inform the application of scientific knowledge and tools in policy and action. The targeted domains include the global institutions for risk reduction and adaptation (e.g. the management of the Adaptation Fund and the Green Climate Fund), national ministries behind adaptation policies and disaster risk reduction, or local decision makers (e.g. at city scale). Besides state organizations, transfer and application of methods and knowledge is also directed at other actors from the private sector (e.g. insurers) and civil society (e.g. non-profit associations or philanthropic foundations).
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