Environmental events, conditions, and extremes are known to influence migration patterns at local, national, and global scales. Forecasts estimate anywhere from 25 million to 1 billion people may be displaced or obliged to migrate for reasons related to climate change in the coming century, with 200 million by mid-century being an oft-cited estimate. Recent research shows that droughts in rural Mexico and declining urban ecological conditions in low-income countries already influence current migration flows to the US and Canada respectively, although this influence is easily overlooked in the face of wider migration policy and management challenges. The European Union and governments in other parts of the world have already begun creating research initiatives and broad policy proposals to address climate- and environmentally-related displacement and migration. Examples include the UK Foresight and EU EACH-FOR projects, the European Cooperation in Science & Technology Action on environmental migration, and the Nansen Initiative

At the global climate summit held in Paris in December 2015, the international community signed the Paris Agreement, which outlines future actions to be taken to reduce greenhouse emissions and to help vulnerable countries prepare and adapt fr the impacts of climate change. Article 50 of the Paris Agreement states that an international task force will be created to make recommendations on what should be done to assist people involuntarily displaced by climate change. This is just the latest step in a growing process of recognition that we can no longer afford to ignore environmental migration.

The Laurier Workshop on Environmental Migration and Displacement, January 21-22, 2016, will bring together Canadian and American experts on environmental migration and climate adaptation to set a research agenda that addresses priority information needs for decision-makers, and assesses the potential for creating a regional network that would generate policy-oriented research and advice on environmental migration in North America, aimed at supporting policy and decision-making. Discussions will include identifying steps that can be implemented in one-, two-, and five year periods so as to begin proactively preparing for environmental migration challenges expected to emerge over the next two decades. Detailed findings and outcomes will be reported to the Canadian and American governments, and a public synthesis of the overall conclusions and recommendations will be published on this website.

A public event will be held on the evening of January 21 at the Balsillie School of International Affairs to allow members of the community to engage with our experts in a broader discussion of the future implications of environmental migration.