CMI/IMéRA/Fulbright Cycle on Migration Studies - Human Migration and the Changing Climate #3

Lundi 20 mai 2019, 9h00 - 12h00 - CMI, Villa Valmer, accès par le 11 Rue des Flots Bleus, 13007 Marseille

CMI/IMéRA/Fulbright Cycle on Immigration - Human Migration and the Changing Climate

This interdisciplinary conference will explore the complex linkages between climate change and the displacement of populations in the global south. How have desertification, droughts, flooding and rising sea levels interacted with other socioeconomic dynamics to spur the movement of human populations, and what can we expect in the near future? To what extent is climate-related migration primarily internal versus a movement out of one’s country of origin? What practical steps can be taken to mitigate the threat of climate change in regions already facing the direct impact of desertification? A less explored angle on this environment/migration connection concerns contrasting dispositions held towards the environment by immigrants versus non-immigrants.

Presentations :

  • A mirage in the desert? To what extent is climate change driving migration in the global south? Some insights from the social sciences.

Thomas Macias is the 2018-19 holder of the Fulbright/IMéRA Chair in Migration Studies and a Professor of Sociology at the University of Vermont. His sociological research using data derived from the nationally representative General Social Survey (GSS) highlights elevated levels of concern for the environment among first generation immigrants, including paying higher taxes and making standard of living reductions. The U.S. is not unique in this regard; in other contexts around the world where people migrating from countries with relatively small per capita ecological footprints arrive in places with relatively large per capita ecological footprints elevated levels of environmental concern should also be observed among the immigrant population. Macias’ publications include the book, Mestizo in America: Generations of Mexican Ethnicity in the American Southwest, and articles in Society and Natural Resources, Environmental Sociology, Environment and Behavior, Rural Sociology, Ethnicities, and the International Journal of Sustainable Transportation.

  • Climate Change driven migrations: Disaster Risk Reduction approach

Luis Laguna is a mining Engineer, with specialty in Geology and Geophysics, and complementary M.Sc. in Geological and Environmental Engineering. Mr. Laguna has a technical and managerial background in geotechnical projects and jobs, with over 25 years of experience

covering all phases in the cycle of Integrative Risk Management. His expertise includes forensic engineering and reparation of damaged infrastructures or buildings. Between 1992 and 2009, Laguna worked as Director of two specialized companies, TESINSA and GEOBRUGG Ibérica, building up disruptive solutions for rockfalls and landslides, solving problems in close collaboration with stakeholders, including engineering companies, governments, R&D and technological institutes and universities. Since 2010, Laguna is an independent consultant and advisor of governmental organizations and private companies. Having also a deep knowledge of global frameworks, strategies, and actions through his close relationship with UNISDR, Laguna became an advocate of the “Making Cities Resilient” Global Campaign in 2013.

  • Droughts present and future, and the need to move

Dr. Rachael McDonnell holds a PhD from Oxford University and has extensive experience working on initiatives examing water and food security policies, and the systems of governance and regulatory frameworks around these key areas in a number of countries. She is passionate about climate change and linking science to policy especially for the development of climate change adaption strategies. She leads a team of researchers working on innovative data, technology, policy and governance solutions to support countries adapting to the challenges of water and food insecurity under a changing climate. She has field experience in South Africa, South East Asia and Europe but specializes in the regions of the Middle East and North Africa. Her work has been published in books, papers, and reports and featured on various radio, TV and social media outlets.

The event is part of the work developed under the second thematic pillar of the CMI – “Resilience: Mitigation and Adaptation to external shocks, mainly climate change and response to the effects of conflict.” It is also the third in a cycle of conferences this year at IMéRA on the topic of human migration.

About the CMI-Fulbright-IMéRA Research Cycle on Migrations

In a context of growing migration and forced displacement (68.5 million estimated forcibly displaced people worldwide according to UNHCR), moving populations are likely to stay a certain number of years in their destination countries (for refugees who live in protracted situations of more than 5 years, the average duration of exile stood at 17 years).  From a development perspective, the question of socio-economic inclusion appears critical. Studies show that benefits of migrants and refugees to economies are existing and significant, and reciprocally, that sustaining the welfare of all in the context of important migration/forced displacement influx also depends on sustained economic growth (as opposed to redistributing existing resources). Social tensions are also an important risk of large-scale displacements and need to be understood and addressed. More specifically, the involved large-scale population movements and the subsequent expected rising density in urban areas also raise obvious public health questions, the migrant populations being generally the most vulnerable components of societies.  Rigorous theoretical and empirical studies of the health, demography and behavioral ecology of migrants are therefore eagerly needed not only for academic purposes but also to guide health policies towards these populations. Needless to say, this concerns not only human biology but also mental health issues, especially given the new patterns of migration. Another key aspect is the impact on host countries’ welfare states and labor markets, often presumed to be negative. However, if adequately channeled, regularized migration and labor mobility may represent a great opportunity; indeed, numerous empirical studies show that increased labor mobility brings huge gains for the migrants themselves and overall advantages for the destination countries. An approach to mobility in which governments design policies with regional labor markets in mind would allow both sending and destination countries to take full advantage of the benefits. The construction of such approaches to mobility is an essential task.

The Center of Mediterranean Integration (CMI,, the French-American Fulbright Commission (, and the Institute for Advanced Study at Aix-Marseille (IMéRA, ) propose a research cycle devoted to an interdisciplinary appraisal of the migration issues mentioned above, among others.  A special emphasis will be placed on migrations in the Mediterranean area. Building on the CMI expertise in these topics, on the Fulbright Commission’s strong reputation to identify and mobilize the best US-based researchers, and on IMéRA’s established capacity to trigger interdisciplinary research at the highest international level, this cycle is precisely devised to stimulate discussions between international researchers of various disciplinary backgrounds as well as policy makers and other non-academic experts. In 2018-2019, the cycle is managed by Blanca Moreno-Dodson, the director of the CMI, Thomas Macias, the 2018-2019 holder of the Fulbright/IMéRA chair on Migration Studies, and by Raouf Boucekkine, director of IMéRA. The inaugural event will take place at IMéRA on January 8th, 2019.

Preliminary schedule :

9:00 - Welcome (from CMI, IMéRA and Fulbright)

9:10 - Rachael McDonnell

10:00 - Thomas Macias

10:50 - Coffee Break

11:00 - Luis Miguel Laguna Megal