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Rapidly altering environments, often as a consequence of climate change, are an increasingly important driver of human mobility across international borders. Building upon earlier CLALS work on forms of religious engagement with environmental conflict and with climate change, both in Latin America and elsewhere, this project seeks to advance understanding of the religious response to environmental displacement throughout the region, including religion’s role at each phase of environmental migration, from departure or displacement, during transit, to arrival and adaptation. In the process, this project examines how different religious traditions inform individual and community responses to environmental dislocations, including Christian, but also Afro-Latino and indigenous religious beliefs and practice. And it considers the potential of religious voices and ideas in bringing greater public attention to solving the legal challenges faced by environmental migrants.

We pursue this agenda with attention to several dimensions of religious engagement with environmental displacement: 1. the potential contributions of faith-based actors and religious concepts to national and international deliberations and to emerging normative frameworks addressing new governance and security challenges posed by environmental migration; 2. the participation of transnational faith-based non-governmental organizations in humanitarian interventions on behalf of migrants; 3. the role in receiving communities of religion and churches for addressing the needs of migrants, especially in contexts of resettlement and societal integration; and 4. the ways religious engagement is well-positioned to ameliorate intangible and collective dimensions of environmental dislocations beyond just the material needs of migrants.

With generous support from the Henry Luce Foundation, this project is led by CLALS Director Eric Hershberg and Research Associate Professor Rob Albro.

Workshops and Public Events

Environmentally-Induced Displacement and Religion in Latin America and the Caribbean: Engaging the Normative and Legal Landscape

January 23-24, 2020 | Darcy Ribeiro Campus | Instituto de Relações Internacionais | Universidade de Brasília

Invited participants at the workshop

As part of this project, the Center organized a two-day workshop in Brazil with invited researchers to survey and assess the normative and legal frameworks informing rising numbers of environmental migrants in the region, and associated governance and security challenges. This meeting also explored possible religious contributions to regional deliberations on this topic. It further included a public forum featuring distinguished practitioners and scholars, including AU’s Washington College of Law Associate Dean Jayesh Rathod, with the intent of discussing critical knowledge gaps and productive avenues for academic and policy collaboration to address the looming challenges of environmental migration. The workshop and public forum were co-sponsored by RESAMA and hosted by the Instituto de Relações Internacionais da Universidade de Brasília.