In April 2013 an elderly woman originally from Dhe Village, Nepali Himalayas, described to me how climatic changes had left her with only one real option—to abandon her home and move to Jomsom. As a remote village with no livelihood alternatives beyond subsistence farming, shifts in climate during the last decade—namely, prolonged drought, declining rainfall, increasing extreme temperatures and frequency of windstorms—forced Dhe residents to become Nepal’s first “Climate Refugees”. Our conversation was one of those defining moments when things start to culminate. After years of academic study, environmental activism, and related internships, this exchange of words (albeit in my meager Nepali) communicated the socioeconomic impact of climate change more clearly than any lecture or textbook. Climate change is not a problem of the future, but a reality already affecting the lives of many.
In that moment, I knew I wanted to become an advocate for Human Rights in climate context. One year later, I am in Geneva Switzerland interning for the Nansen Initiative—a state-led consultative process working towards a “Protection Agenda” for persons displaced across borders in context of natural hazards and climate change.
My #ClimateSelfie photo is from the Geneva contingent of People’s Climate March. I marched because I believe it’s time to raise our voices – in the United Nations, in national governments and NGOs, in academia, and on the streets.
The road forwards in this nexus of climate and mobility is complex. However, as the Prime Minister of the Cook Islands observed, “To fail to plan is to plan to fail”.- Erica Bower, 22, USA