Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht, 2014-04-24
Hamburg Conference Gulmitmarket

The landslide-caused Attabad lake has submerged the market area of Gulmit, Northern Pakistan. © Giovanna Gioli


Actions for Climate-Induced Migration

Hamburg, 16-18 July 2013

The 21st century will be characterized by changes shaped by climate change. Many scientific results have shown the threats and challenges that climate induced migration poses on population, governments and governance structures. Current climate change projections suggest that the situation could aggravate, thus putting additional pressure on the socio-ecological systems and increasing their vulnerability and reducing their capability to react to any future stressor. This situation may be aggravated in many countries by the lack of state and regional capacity to manage the impacts of climate change, as well as by the unpredictable overlay of conflicts, both within nations and transnationally (Werz and Conley, 2012)

Climate Change, Migration, and Conflict (Werz and Conley, 2012)

It is clear that not all countries or societies are equally exposed to climate and environmental change nor are they similarly capable to cope with environmental stressors. Hence, anticipating the vulnerability to climate change of particular socio-ecological systems proves crucial for taking adequate and timely actions. Such actions can be undertaken only through efficient governance structures, and by supporting social transformation processes enabling states and populations to react to vulnerable situations.

The goal of the Hamburg Conference is to increase knowledge and management inputs through an intensive learning process of decision-making, action and evaluation. Therefore we invite contributions showing tools and actions to deal innovatively with environmental and climate-induced migration.

The conference outcomes should contribute to the enhancement of essential types of knowledge production that might improve and provoke further actions:
• System knowledge identifying the cause of present problems and their future development
• Target knowledge concerned with the values and norms that can be used to form goals of problem-solving processes
• Transformation knowledge dealing with how a problematic situation can be transformed and improved (Hirsch Hadorn et al. 2008)
• Transdisciplinary knowledge collected from different sources representing the information feed-forward and feed-back processes across individuals that are necessary for transformations in societal processes (van der Leeuw 2009)
Central and final aim of the conference is to collect evidence-based knowledge and experiences and produce an outcome document, along the lines of the Nansen Principles on Human Displacements, thus contributing to setting the future agenda on climate induced migration.

Nansen Conference on Climate Change and Displacement in the 21st Century

Target groups and aim of the conference

We invite contributions from scientists, experts, practitioners and decision-makers, with a special attention to contributions coming from the Global South. The conference aims at shedding light on environmental induced migration (CIM) and on the driving forces for action. We seek to promote not only the debate around CIM but also to increase the participation, exchange of knowledge and capacity building between the Global South and the North.

Conference Themes and Guidelines for papers

Regional focus: we welcome relevant contributions from all over the word, however preference will be given to researchers and policy makers from Africa, Asia, and South America. The focus of the conference is identifying actions and best practices to address climate induced migration (CIM). Papers are expected to address some of the most urgent, emerging, and strategic questions pertaining the relationship between climate and environmental change, migration, and the governance of socio-ecological systems. The following are some suggested questions centered on the four themes of the conference for consideration by potential paper authors:

1) CIM and Urbanisation

Migration to urban centers from both rural and urban areas has increasingly become a key adaptation strategy in many parts of the world. People escaping environmental disruption are likely to migrate into areas that are also prone to high environmental risks, such as low-lying urban areas in mega-deltas or slums in water-insecure expanding cities. Many top migrant destinations are ‘megacities’ located in coastal areas or river deltas, which are vulnerable to rising water levels, increased risk of cyclones, storm surges and saline intrusion. This underscores the need, especially for countries already experiencing fast-paced urbanization, to plan for increases in migration over the coming decades. How will future climate scenarios affect urban areas and populations in the coming decades? Which actions need to be taken to address the complex connections between economics, demography, environment and migration in the context of fast-paced urbanization?

2) CIM and rural livelihoods

In many rural societies across the world migration has been a livelihood strategy for generations. Seasonal and temporary rural-to-urban and rural-to-rural migration are commonly adopted by those households relying on subsistence agriculture and struggling to deal with environmental change. Labour migration is widely acknowledged as a rational adaptation strategy to climate change processes. In the wake of climate change, migration is likely to become even more common, along with the practice of migrating from place to place in search of ecosystems that can still support rural livelihoods. How is climate induced migration interacting with development processes? Which is the role of social inequalities (e.g. class, gender, ethnicity) in shaping migration as adaptation? How can climate policy successfully interact with development and migration policies?

3) CIM and rapid onset extreme events

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), climate change is expected to alter the intensity and the frequency of extreme weather events and of rapid onset hydro-meteorological extremes, such as storms, floods, landslides and tropical cyclones. Changes in climate patterns are expected to have large impacts on people’s livelihoods, especially in poor and vulnerable rural societies, affecting crops, productive assets, as well as infrastructures, and causing the movement of people. Such movements have been predominantly short-term and internal, as a high proportion of the affected population tend to return home, and the ability to migrate over long distances is frequently hampered by the lack of the necessary capital to meet the initial costs of migration. What migratory behaviours are to be expected in future climate scenarios? How to improve the management and the governance of rapid onset events and disaster-related movements?

4) CIM and slow onset extreme events

Historical experience as well as recent research has underscored the importance of migration as a response to long-term environmental changes. Far from being a distant concern, slow onset events such as sea level rise, increasing temperatures, ocean acidification, glacial retreat and related impacts, salinization, and drought, along with the intensification of ongoing processes like land and forest degradation, loss of biodiversity and desertification are already a reality (UNFCCC CoP 16). Although less present in the policy makers agenda, as they are wrongly perceived as less urgent and therefore less attractive for election politics, slow onset disasters are likely to involve more economic losses than fast onset events, because of their persistence. Which are their consequences on migratory fluxes? How does migration vary when caused by acute versus long term climate change effects? Which risks mitigation strategies shall be planned? How to better include slow onset processes in the policy agenda?


Please register now for THE HAMBURG CONFERENCE: Actions for Climate-Induced Migration

in Hamburg, 16-18 July 2013

Registration form Hamburg Conference

List of Hotels recommended by the Climate Service Center

If an official letter of invitation for the Hamburg Conference is needed, please contact

Abstract Submission:

Deadline for abstracts: 15 March 2013.
The author of the abstract (or one lead author in the case of co-authors) will be notified directly by end April 2013.

No registration fees are required to attend the Hamburg Conference, and funding is available for participants coming from the Global South.
Note that only selected abstracts from the Global South are eligible for funding, which will be allocated on a merit basis.

Abstracts must be in English and should not exceed 250 words in length. Papers are expected to be focused on climate-induced migration, must have a focus within the four themes of the conference, with particular emphasis on actions to be taken. All abstracts submitted will be evaluated by the Conference Scientific Board.

Some papers submitted at the conference will be selected for publication. You are requested to submit your abstracts online to the following email:

Conference Scientific Board

Petra Bendel (Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg)
Michael Brzoska (University of Hamburg)
María Máñez Costa (Climate Service Center, Hamburg)
Giovanna Gioli (University of Hamburg)
Graeme Hugo (University of Adelaide)
Cord Jakobeit (University of Hamburg)
Patricia Romero Lankao (NCAR, Boulder)
Benoit Mayer (National University of Singapore)
Jürgen Scheffran (University of Hamburg)
Sophia Wirsching, (Brot für die Welt, Berlin)

Now online: The complete Agenda of THE HAMBURG CONFERENCE


Keynote speakers (confirmed)

  • Dr. Susana Adamo (Columbia University, New York, USA)
  • Dr. Tamer Afifi (United Nation University, Bonn, Germany)
  • Prof. Samuel Codjoe (Univerity of Ghana/Legon, Accra, Ghana)
  • Dr. François Gemenne (IDDRI/Sciences Po, Paris, France)
  • Prof. Graeme Hugo (University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia)
  • Prof. Oliver C. Ruppel (University of Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch, South Africa)


Hörsaal C
Edmund-Siemers-Allee 1
Universität Hamburg, 20146 Hamburg

From Central Station:
- take S21 (direction Elbgaustraße) or S31 (direction Altona), get off at Hamburg Dammtor
- leave station at the side of Emund Siemers Allee and walk up the street to the left until you arrive at the main building of the University

From Airport:
- Take S1 (direction Wedel) to Hamburg Hauptbahnhof (Hamburg Hbf)
- Change to S21 (direction Elbgaustraße) or S31 (direction Altona) and get off at Hamburg Dammtor
- leave station at the side of Emund Siemers Allee and walk up the street to the left until you arrive at
the main building of the University

For additonal information about public transport in Hamburg use following link: