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First Peoples’ Convening on Climate-Forced Displacement

BACKGROUND: In response to the needs of UUSC’s partners to learn and engage with other communities who are experiencing the spectrum of issues associated with climate-forced displacement (CFD), UUSC, the Climate Justice Resilience Fund (CJRF), and our partners, collaborated to convene the First Peoples’ Convening on Climate-Forced Displacement. UUSC played a leading role in strategically identifying communities to attend and participate in this convening, as well as in planning and funding all the logistics involved and providing on-site support.

Prior to the actual convening, UUSC convened a core group of participants to inform and design the agenda through monthly calls to gather ideas, collecting thoughts and feedback about what issues were most important to participants to discuss and what outcomes were most useful for communities to walk away with. This process helped strengthen relationships amongst participants and gave them a sense of ownership over the process. As part of this process, UUSC developed monthly information briefs to capture some of the main issues that communities were concerned with, as well as information about processes that were occurring in the overall climate displacement landscape.

Learning that a convening of this size would require additional support, UUSC reached out to other stakeholders within our networks for their support, including the Anchorage UU Fellowship, who graciously provided logistical housing and transportation support for community leaders traveling from abroad.

Through advice and feedback from the core planning team, UUSC went through a comprehensive process to secure a team of skilled and experienced facilitators to facilitate the convening, meeting with them on a weekly basis to make sure we were on the same page. In addition to this, UUSC covered the costs of the venue, travel expenses for participants, facilitation services, meals and provided on-site support to all community leaders during the convening.


On November 30, 2018 participants in the First Peoples’ Convening on Climate-Forced Displacement released its declaration. Click here to read the Declaration.

Below are some key actions we hope to take as a result of the declaration.

  1. We affirm the commitment to the implementation of the Paris Agreement and other U.N. and global treaties. However, we recognize that even if the Paris Agreement’s goal to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels is reached, slowing global warming will not come soon enough to stop many of our communities from being displaced.
  2. Thus, we call upon the Conference of Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to recognize Climate Displaced People (CDP) and their rights and needs as a matter of urgent concern and to ensure that adequate technical and financial support is afforded to them immediately;
  3. Following the 2018 Conference of Parties, the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage associated with Climate Change (WIM) Task Force on Displacement recommended that the Executive Committee (Excom) reverse the (already nonbinding) removal of a funding stream to address climate migration and specifically the “loss and damage” communities experience as a result of climate change and especially displacement. Upholding binding funding streams under “loss and damage” will afford communities with funding streams to ensure adequate adaptation and relocation measures are fulfilled.
  4. We call State Governments to develop human rights-centered laws, policies, and strategies that address a spectrum of risks associated with forcible displacement, including our right to remain and build protections in place and/or to engage communities in decision-making processes to adapt and relocate;
  5. We demand State Governments to create legal frameworks and policies that place communities and Indigenous Peoples at the center of climate change planning and monitoring of climate change impacts so that Indigenous Peoples are empowered to lead adaptation planning efforts;
  6. We call our allies, friends, partners, and supporters to acknowledge and help to create the spaces where indigenous community leaders allow for the transfer of indigenous and modern knowledges to our children; and
  7. We invite our youth to continue pro-active engagement in adaptation strategies, planning, and implementation drawing from modern and indigenous knowledges so that our collective indigenous identities thrive into the future.


In the last 10 years, millions of people have been displaced due to the impacts of climate change. Rising seas, melting permafrost, erosion, and flooding are causing entire communities to relocate.

Representatives of some impacted communities in Bangladesh, the Pacific Islands, the United States, including some Alaska Native communities, will convene in Girdwood, Alaska, for a three-day gathering to discuss the impacts of climate change on their communities and to share strategies about how to address the devastating effects of climate-forced displacement.

This convening will bring together those living on the forefront of the climate change crisis to exchange ideas, develop strategies, and strengthen relationships that will advance climate justice.

More than 60 representatives from the following regions will be attending the convening. Explore these areas:

Convening Partners

Our dear friends at the Anchorage Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (AUUF) will welcome UUSC and our partners to Alaska the weekend before the convening. Read our interview with Amanda Mack, AUUF’s board president, to learn about what their congregation has done to address the issue of climate change in Alaska.

Interesting Reads: Learn More About Climate Change

More information

Photo by Brian Adams