Climate Change and Human Mobility

2 credits / 2 weeks weeks
4 Mar 2019 - 12 Apr 2019

Professor José Riera-Cézanne

Migration has always been a way for humankind to react and adapt to changes in the natural environment. There is a broad consensus today that ‘climate change’— encompassing environmental degradation for purposes of the course — is already driving human mobility and that this trend is likely to intensify in future. Without more investment in disaster risk reduction and boosting the resilience to climate shocks of families and communities, millions are projected to be uprooted from their homes in the coming decades. Human mobility in this context is understood to include migration, displacement and the planned relocation of communities out of harm’s way, as envisaged by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. This six-session course will broadly introduce students to current thinking about the interaction between climate change and human mobility. It will look at what we mean by climate change and its projected impacts, as well as the typologies of human mobility they produce. Students will become familiar with the international law applicable to populations affected by climate change and recent developments in this area. They will also learn how human mobility is treated in the 2015 Paris Climate Change Accord and relevant work streams of the UNFCCC process.




José Riera-Cézanne

Professor José Riera-Cézanne is Adjunct Professor in the Department of International Law at UPEACE. He joined the faculty after 32 years of distinguished service with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), most recently as Special Adviser to the Assistant UN High Commissioner for Refugees (Protection). Professor Riera-Cézanne is a seasoned expert in multilateral consultations and negotiations relating to refugees and other populations of concern to UNHCR, as well humanitarian issues more broadly. He brings to UPAZ his in-depth knowledge of international refugee law and protection issues; international humanitarian law and norms relating to the protection of the world’s growing number of internally displaced persons; international law relating to statelessness and nationality; human rights law; international migration and efforts to improve global governance of international migration and refugee flows; climate change and its ramifications for migration, displacement and planned relocation of affected populations; humanitarian accountability; evaluations of humanitarian assistance; and the UN’s cooperation with faith-based actors in development and humanitarian interventions. Professor Riera-Cézanne holds degrees from Yale College (BA cum laude, SY ’77), Columbia Law School (JD ’81), the Parker School of International Law (Certificate in Public International Law ‘81). He has also worked towards a doctorate from the Graduate Institute in Geneva, Switzerland, and studied at The Hague Academy of International Law (Private international law and Public international law). His principal area of academic research is documenting the impacts of climate change on human mobility and identifying effective adaptation strategies and State policies to promote them.


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