Should I stay or should I go? Planned relocations

21 October 2021, 9.30-10.30am AEDT

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Sometimes the impacts of disasters and climate change mean that whole areas may become unsafe to live in. Communities may be faced with the prospect of relocation. But who decides – to move at all, and if so, where? Planned relocations traverse a complicated cultural, legal and land title landscape. What does a ‘successful’ planned relocation look like?


Salote Soqo

Senior Partnership Officer, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC)

@charlp @UUSC

Salote Soqo is the Senior Partnership Officer at the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC), an international human rights organization based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She leads UUSC’s climate justice and crisis response portfolio which focuses on protecting the rights of people at risk to climate-forced displacement  and on advancing equitable disaster relief and movements for disaster justice. As part of her role, Salote informs UUSC’s strategic approaches and advocacy and develops strategic partnerships with grassroots communities and advocates. She has 16 years of experience in the fields of climate/environmental justice, water equity and sustainable environmental management. She is an indigenous Fijian from the provinces of Cakaudrove and Lau and describes herself as a human rights and climate justice activist, a devoted mother and wife and an indigenous steward of Mother Earth and Father Sky.

Daniel Fitzpatrick

Professor of Law, Monash University


Daniel Fitzpatrick is a Professor at the Monash University Faculty of Law.  He writes on property rights in contexts of climate change and natural disasters. A past winner of the UK Socio-Legal Association Hart Article Prize, he has published in the Yale Law Journal, Law and Society Review, Law and Social Inquiry, Regulation and Governance, and the American Journal of Comparative Law. He has been a Global Visiting Professor at New York University School of Law, a Visiting Professor at the National University of Singapore; and a Distinguished Visitor at the University of Toronto. From 2012 to 2016, he was an Australian Research Council Future Fellow. In 2022, he will take up a position as a Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Centre for International Scholars in Washington DC.

Erica Bower

Affiliate, Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law


Erica Bower is a specialist on climate change-related displacement and planned relocation, currently pursuing an interdisciplinary Doctorate at Stanford University. She is an affiliate of the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, a member of the Advisory Committee for the Platform on Disaster Displacement, and previously worked at the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as the climate change and disaster displacement specialist in the Protection Policy and Legal Advice section. As an independent consultant, she has conducted research on climate-related human mobility for National Geographic, UN Women, Oxfam, the Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice, the Norwegian Refugee Council's Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), and the South Asia consultations of the Nansen Initiative. She holds an MSc from Oxford University in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies, and a BA from Columbia University in Sustainable Development and Human Rights.

Merewalesi Yee

University of Queensland

Merewalesi Yee is currently a PhD research student at the University of Queensland (UQ). A Fiji Islander by birth, her research interests are in climate change adaptation, resilient communities and human mobility. She has a Bachelor degree in geography, Postgraduate Diploma in climate change, and a Master of Arts in Geography examining ‘sustainable livelihoods and mobility’ in Fiji, all from the University of the South Pacific. She has 7 years’ experience teaching at high school and 8 years teaching at tertiary level. She was recently the runner up in the 3MT 2021 competition for the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at UQ. She is currently in Fiji undertaking fieldwork for her PhD research.

Chair: Elizabeth Ferris

Research Professor, Institute for the Study of International Migration, Georgetown University


Elizabeth Ferris is Research Professor with the Institute for the Study of International Migration at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and an adjunct professor in the Georgetown Law School. She has also served as Senior Advisor to the UN General Assembly’s Summit for Refugees and Migrants in New York (2016) and as expert advisor to the UN’s High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement (2019-2021). From 2006-2015, she was a Senior Fellow and co-director of the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement where she worked to support understanding and protection of internally displaced persons. Prior to joining Brookings, she spent 20 years working in the field of humanitarian assistance, most recently in Geneva, Switzerland at the World Council of Churches. She has also served as the director of the Church World Service’s Immigration and Refugee Program, research director for the Life & Peace Institute in Uppsala, Sweden and Fulbright professor at the Universidad Autónoma de México. She has written extensively on refugee, migration and humanitarian issues, including The Politics of Protection: The Limits of Humanitarian Action (Brookings Institution Press, 2011), Consequences of Chaos: Syria’s Humanitarian Crisis and the Failure to Protect, with Kemal Kirsici (Brookings Institution Press, 2016). Her latest book, Refugees, Migration and Global Governance: Negotiating the Global Compacts, with Katharine Donato, was published by Routledge in 2019. She received her BA from Duke University and her MA and PhD from the University of Florida.

Image credit: IOM/Muse Mohammed