On the Verge – Climate Migration with Amali Tower and Kayly Ober (012)

By: Evan Barnard

In this episode, Evan Barnard, a research fellow at the Center for Climate and Security, discusses human migration and climate security with Amali Tower and Kayly Ober. Ms. Tower is the Executive Director at Climate Refugees as well as a member of the World Economic Forum and its Expert Network in Migration, Human Rights and Humanitarian Response. Ms. Tower has experience in promoting the rights and protection of refugees and forcibly displaced persons with UNHCR, various NGOs and the US Refugee Admissions Program throughout Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and the US. Ms. Ober is the Senior Advocate and Program Manager of the Climate Displacement Program at Refugees International. Prior to Refugees International, she worked as a Policy Specialist for the Asian Development Bank and as a Consultant at the World Bank, where she authored the flagship report Groundswell: Preparing for Internal Climate Migration.

The podcast features a discussion of three recent migration reports. The Biden Administration’s U.S. Strategy for Addressing the Root Causes of Migration in Central America lays out its proposed course of action to address and mitigate Central American migration and its “root causes.” The Climate Refugees, Climate Change, Forced Displacement, and Peace & Security report investigates the international security perspective on climate change as a driver of human migration through a human rights lens. The report by the blue ribbon panel of Refugees International Task Force Report to the President on the Climate Crisis and Global Migration provides a human rights-centric discourse of the relationship between climate change and human migration.

In the conversation, Ms. Ober suggests reevaluating refugee status qualifications to include climate-related crises. She reasons that the Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees should, by definition, cover persons fleeing from climate-related crises. The Biden Administration’s executive order Rebuilding and Enhancing Programs To Resettle Refugees and Planning for the Impact of Climate Change on Migration acknowledges climate change affects migration and calls for a forthcoming report on the relationship between climate and migration. Ms. Tower recommends greater prioritization of climate change in international multilateral institutions like the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

Climate change affects all people, but it does not affect all people equally. According to Ms. Tower and Ms. Ober, a change in political will is needed to make substantial progress towards comprehensive human rights-based migration governance and creating more inclusive migration policies that incorporate climate change considerations. 

For further reading, please check out Ms. Tower’s blog post, Central American Climate Migration is a Human Security Crisis.


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