14 Mar 2019

Recap: CLISEL conference

The conference on “Connecting environmental changes and human mobility as a way to draw new maps of knowledge” took place from 3–6 March 2019 at the Congress Centre Monte Verità, Ascona, Switzerland.

Negotiations on two global compacts, one for migration and one on refugees, and the recommendations submitted by the UNFCCCC Task Force on Displacement, have brought environmental changes and human mobility into the limelight.

Such processes have spurred new theoretical and empirical opportunities. Throughout this Conference, we questioned how new spaces of political intervention have expanded knowledge and claims, and have made room for new experiments within the theoretical and practical framework of environmental changes and human mobility. To navigate our discussions, we identified specific challenging questions:  First - How is the normative dimension of human mobility in all levels of governance currently being affected by environmental changes? Second - In what ways can the environmental humanities contribute to reframing our understanding of the human experience of environmental changes? Third - What kind of innovative activities are being undertaken on the ground to cope with environmental changes and migration issues?

We structured our thematic sessions and workshops to discuss each one of these questions by bringing together a variety of fields (such as human rights, data collection, and climate change policy) and several geographical perspectives to tackle all these interconnected themes. The key discussions of the conference included; questioning the effects of the Anthropocene as a new geological epoch, examining the concept of border control historically to understand the implications of the current free movement agreements, and challenging the definitions of resilience, motility and state of exception.         

Young scholars participating in the conference were invited to compete for the Congressi Stefano Franscini (CSF) award, which is given for the best presentation at each CSF-subsidized conference. The award was won by Suzy Blondin of the Institute of Geography, University of Neuchâtel, for her presentation on “Environmental migrations in Central Asia: A multifaceted approach to the issues”.

The conference included presentations on the activities of the European Union-funded project “Climate Security with Local Authorities” (CLISEL). Many team members and responsible scientists of the partners’ project shared the important results of the projects (eg. interactive maps).

Another highlight of the conference was the Public Event - Round Table on “Climate change, migration and security”. This popular event invited the community to participate in a discussion between CLISEL partners Prof. Marco Armiero and Dr Giovanni Bettini and representatives of local authorities: Mr Paolo Cugini (Mayor of Gassino), Ms Cinzia Tartarotti (Vice-mayor of Calceranica), Mr Cristian Uez (Mayor of Calceranica). The moderator was Dr Giovanni Pellegri (Università della Svizzera italiana).

Details of the participants, programme and abstracts, as well as a detailed report highlighting the discussions of the conference are available via the links below.