Climate refugees?

Over the past few months I have been doing some work for a global organisation working to support refugees to help them think through some of the advocacy angles around the challenge of climate change.

This is a really important question and one that has been around for quite awhile. What provisions are there or indeed should there be for people who are forced to flee because of the impact of climate change? The existing international law around people forced to flee because of persecution is clearly set out in the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees. But what is the answer for people who are forced to flee because of climate change?

This work has only just begun, but I was really interested how a simple approach to campaigning began to help them think through their possible approach to this challenge. For regular readers of my blog, this will come as no surprise, but I was keen to tease out from them what they felt was the key problem that they were facing, and then what was the solution or indeed solutions to tackle that particular problem. Having ascertained these answers, we then sought to develop a very simple future story or the chain of events that could bring about the desired change.

Then having worked out our problem and solution and identified a simple future story, we then began to take that to their different regional centres of operation around the world. And, as you would imagine, the results were fascinating with each region presenting very different responses to our future story.

The critical element is that we had a proposal to put to them both in terms of a problem and solution, but also in terms of a simple future story for them to be able to challenge, but also most importantly, to come up with their own ideas as well.

The more that I do this kind of work, the more that I think that it is so important initially to have the courage to be able to identify a clear campaign proposition with a clearly articulated future story; but then to have the humility to go out to consult and to invite challenge, knowing that as a result that you will only strengthen your proposal.

This work is only at the beginning, and you’ll need to come back later to see the outcome of these discussions, but it has only serve to reinforce my feeling that such an approach to developing a strategy can be a really effective way to move forward!

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