International workshop linking sustainable development, global migration, climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction - identifying emerging issues

Training Course
University of Lausanne, Faculty of geosciences and environment (UNIL-FGSE)) (UNIL)
02-04 Dec 2013
Switzerland (Lausanne)
Batiment G;opolis, quartier Mouline

Workshop objectives: - To explore scientific and practical inter-linkages between these four domains that are shaping current international and national policies: sustainable development, migration, disaster risk reduction, climate change; - Create a dialogue based on science, methodologies and practices among UNIL-FGSE academic staff members, students, UNIL-FGSE alumni and external experts from Switzerland and abroad through case studies and practices on how these issues are linked in the field; - Showcase current research of the UNIL-FGSE faculty members and students related to this topic and its societal value, and Explore emerging issues in this field to inform future research and projects at UNIL-FGSE Rationale During the period 1992-2012, it is conservatively estimated that disasters killed 1.3 million people, affected 4.4 billion and resulted in economic losses of $2 trillion (UNISDR, 2011). The vast majority of casualties and number of affected persons due to disasters took place in developing countries, especially in Asia although climate change is also being felt in Switzerland (1°C increase in past 80 years), especially through the higher occurrence of heat waves (975 killed people and more than 70,000 in Europe, and caused losses of around € 13 billon for agriculture). The IPCC 2012 report highlighted the role that population vulnerability and exposure play as main drivers of disasters, against popular belief that climate change is the main driver of risk (Field et al., 2012). Thus the importance of addressing “underlying risk factors” (i.e. food insecurity, unsustainable land management practices and poor governance), which are mainly driven by poor development and a failure to achieve sustainable development goals, before climate change impacts make it much more difficult to do so. Unsustainable livelihood strategies and land use management can in turn reduce access to resources, increase environmental degradation and intensification of hazard events, especially in fragile environments such as mountains. Another related emerging international topic is the role of migration, whether driven by climate change, economic factors or environmental degradation (Foresight, 2011). Migration is occurring in many places of the world, leaving behind women, children and elderly to deal with adapting to changing climate conditions alongside managing daily life: agricultural practices, maintaining terraces, irrigation canals, or stabilizing slopes.

One of the main challenges of disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation, migration and sustainable development is that these domains are compartmentalized and represented by different institutions, whether at the governmental, NGO, professional or academic levels. Whereas in reality these issues are all closely interlinked (as experienced by local populations). Coping capacity, and resilience, which are being put forward as potential linking forces, have the potential to address these issues. But this needs to be further discussed.

Workshop questions

-What experiences, opportunities challenges and academic analysis for linking sustainable development, disaster risk reduction, climate change and migration?

-To what extent are climate change adaptation and resilience providing new opportunities for framing international policies on sustainable development, which may have failed as a past policy goal, or merely distracting from the main issue of reducing “underlying risk factors”?

-How can science (and UNIL-FGSE) provide more applied research and methodologies for advancing a more comprehensive view of the relationship between disaster risk reduction, climate change, migration and sustainable development?


Public debate on December 4. The workshop language will be in English except for an exceptional public round table debate to be held in French on December 4 at 18.00 hs, which is open to the public. The theme will evolve around “Managing Risks – Is Switzerland Prepared”, exact title and guest speakers TBC. Background This workshop is based on a current project funded by the Swiss Network for International Studies (SNIS) on the same topic. 2012_3743_sustainable-land-management-mountain-regions-bolivia-and-nepal-context-outmi

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Target audience

The workshop is targeted primarily to faculty members and PhD students of the UNIL-FGSE, but will accept other participants depending on available space.

How to register

Deadline for abstracts: October 15th Deadline for workshop registration: November 15 Please register by contacting either organizer:


The Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction 2018, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia 3-6 July 2018 The Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction 2018, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia 3-6 July 2018.
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