Challenging Injustice, Advancing Human Rights

Addressing Climate-Forced Displacement in the United States: A Just and Equitable Response

The Legal Justice Coalition (facilitated by UUSC and the Lowlander Center) and the Rising Voices Community Relocation & Site Expansion Working Group issue policy guidelines to advance community-led solutions to climate-forced displacement in the US.

Droughts killing crops, wildfires blazing out of control each year, floods gaining in strength, permafrost melting beneath Arctic villages…the message of all these phenomena is clear: The climate crisis is already upon us.

And it is ravaging communities nationwide, disproportionately Indigenous Peoples and communities of color, who are losing their homes and livelihoods, and who are further disenfranchised through inadequate and inequitable public policy responses.

Within 100 days of President Biden’s term, his administration has made a monumental policy shift to address climate migration. However, the issue is still framed as a matter of international migration and national security. In truth, the vast majority of climate-forced displacement takes place within borders, and the United States is no exception. Our politicians have to take this threat seriously and follow the lead of communities already confronting these challenges on the ground.

Our coalition of community leaders, legal advocates, and researchers has developed a set of recommendations to guide policymakers. This document shows a path forward to address the already-present reality of climate-forced displacement, centering the leadership and self-determination of communities who are working each day to address the problem. Follow the links below to read the brief and learn more.

Summary and topline recommendations

One-pager

Full policy brief

Solution 1: Increase funding to protect frontline communities

Solution 2: Make FEMA more equitable

Solution 3: Grant federal funds directly to frontline communities

Solution 4: Establish a just response for adaptation and relocation

Solution 5: Create a human rights governance framework

In addition to this policy recommendation to address climate-forced displacement in the United States, you can learn more about recommendations to the Biden administration to address climate, migration, and displacement abroad here.

Please join us in advancing a shared agenda that prioritizes the needs and solutions of frontline communities facing the impacts of climate change by signing on below!

Contributors

Name Affiliation
Albert Naquin Isle de Jean Charles Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw
Alessandra Jerolleman Jacksonville State University / Lowlander Center
Amber Moulton Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
Anjana Joshi Southern Poverty Law Center
Aranzazu Lascurain North Carolina State University
Catherine Hall Williams-Mystic College
Chantel Comardelle Isle de Jean Charles Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Indians of Louisiana
Chas Jones Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians
Debra Butler Five Colleges, Inc.
Elizabeth Marino Oregon State University-Cascades
Fred Eningowuk Shishmaref, Alaska
Itzel Flores Castillo Wang Promesa Boyle Heights
Ivy Wang Southern Poverty Law Center
Jacqueline Patterson National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
Joshua Leach Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
Julia Guarino Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy and the Environment, University of Colorado Law School
Julie Maldonado Livelihoods Knowledge Exchange Network (LiKEN)
Katherine Egland National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
Kristina Peterson Lowlander Center
Lesley Iaukea University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Mike Givens Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
Morris. J. Alexie Native Village of Nunapitchuk, Alaska
Naomi Glassman-Majara Earth Rights International
Nathan Jessee Tulane University
Patrick Boyle Earth Rights International
Patty Ferguson-Bohnee Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe/Indian Law Clinic (Arizona State University)
Rachel Gore Freed Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
Robin Bronen Alaska Institute for Justice
Rosina Philippe Grand Bayou Village, Atakapa-Ishak Chawasha Tribe
Salote Soqo Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
Sarah Krakoff University of Colorado Law School
Shirell Parfait-Dardar Grand Caillou/Dulac Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw
Shirley Laska Lowlander Center
Stanley Tom Native Village of Newtok, Alaska
Theresa Dardar Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe
Tom Neck Native Village of Nunapitchuk, Alaska