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Resilience to Relocation: Navigating Climate-Induced Migration with Sara Belligoni

Apr 21, 2023
Barren land caused by climate change

The world is currently experiencing the effects of climate change, which are disrupting global ecosystems, coastal communities, and vulnerable populations. The impact is so severe that migration, both domestic and international, is becoming an increasingly significant response to these challenges. In this episode of Crisis. Conflict. Emergency Management. Podcast, host Kyle King interviews Sara Belligoni from Rutgers University, who shares her insights and expertise on this subject.

Sara Belligoni is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Rutgers University, Department of Human Ecology and affiliated with the Rutgers-led Megalopolitan Coastal Transformation Hub. Her work focuses on investigating the decision-making process of households in underserved communities of coastal New Jersey, New York City, and the Philadelphia metropolitan area when experiencing climate-related extreme weather events. As a disaster scientist, her research interests include climate change, homeland security, and emergency management.

The Connection Between Climate Change and Migration

Sara Belligoni explains that climate change and migration are closely linked to emergency management and resilience. People migrate as an adaptation measure to become more resilient to climate change. The better the emergency management plans are for adaptation or mitigation, the less likely people are to migrate. However, when people feel vulnerable and not resilient to climate change, resulting disasters, the way they adapt is also by migrating. Thus, emergency management must plan accordingly to mitigate the likelihood of migrations, while also providing a safe and welcoming environment for those who migrate.

Climate change has resulted in severe natural disasters that have affected many people globally. For instance, hurricanes, typhoons, and floods have caused massive destruction and forced people to flee their homes. These natural disasters are an indication that climate change is affecting the world in a big way. Belligoni explains that climate change is not just about the environment, but it is a humanitarian issue that affects people's lives. Thus, it is necessary to address this issue and take measures to protect people from the impact of climate change.

Migration resulting from climate change is an adaptation measure that people take to become more resilient to it. However, migration is not always a solution. Migration can result in many problems for both the people who migrate and the communities that receive them. It is necessary to find ways to prevent or minimize migration, while also providing a safe and welcoming environment for those who do migrate.

The High Costs of Ignoring Climate Change and Migration

Ignoring climate change and migration can have far-reaching consequences. Communities that lose people, as well as those that receive migrants, may suffer if they do not plan accordingly. Communities must create opportunities for migrants, ensure that children can continue their education, and that adults can maintain their professional careers. Additionally, the migration experience can shape how receiving communities should plan and adapt to the influx of migrants. It is critical to plan accordingly to create a safe and welcoming environment for migrants.

Climate change is a global problem that affects everyone, regardless of where they live. The impact of climate change is felt more by vulnerable populations, including coastal communities and small island states. These communities are highly dependent on their environment for survival, and thus, they are more vulnerable to the impact of climate change. As climate change continues to affect these communities, more people are forced to migrate in search of better opportunities, safety, and security.

Geopolitical Considerations in Climate Change and Migration

When addressing climate change and migration internationally, there are additional geopolitical considerations to take into account. These considerations include understanding why people are migrating, their background and skillset, and which countries are receiving migrants. Small island states are migrating to countries like Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. Understanding the impact of migration on the economy and demographics of these countries is critical. However, Belligoni emphasizes that while international organizations can shape the regulatory framework for addressing climate change, the issues are very local. The way in which countries, including the US, approach climate change and migration at the local level is essential.


Climate change and migration are complex issues that require a holistic approach. Governments, international organizations, communities, and individuals must work together to find solutions to these problems. The impact of climate change and migration is severe, affecting the lives of many people. Therefore, it is necessary to take measures to address the issue and protect people from its impact.