Promising Prospects for Independent Study Project

The essence of desertification. (Credit to

I had a revelation last week. I read an article on environmental migration (aka environmental refugees, climate refugees) and remembered this long-forgotten topic. At first, I thought that it would be awesome to do a dissertation on this subject of growing interest; I could not imagine that I would want to start my independent study project on this case. The topic is difficult to examine because it is so new yet centuries old. People have been migrating because of changes in their environment for centuries (Ice Age, anyone?), but only in the 20th and 21st centuries is it becoming a phenomenon accelerated directly by human behavior.

So then I thought: I’m in Geneva. I can’t pass up an opportunity to conduct interviews in the International Environment House, at the United Nations Development Programme, with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, among dozens of others. I would hate myself for it later. Once I began research and talked to my academic director here, I knew. I had located what I would be doing for the rest of October and the month of November.

My focus would be on finding what people can do to help developing countries finance these huge changes, through  the help of international organizations, non-governmental organizations and governments. This article hits at exactly the issue of the United Nations not recognizing environmental migrants, another uphill battle.

I’ve already contacted International Centre for Migration, Health and Development; Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees; UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction; World Meteorological Organization; Global Institute for Water, Environment and Health; Green Cross International; the Geneva Liaison Office for the UN Convention to Combat Desertification; three lecturers that my program hosted; and the author of a paper I read. It may seem like a lot now, but who knows how many of them will actually get back to me?

I would appreciate any suggestions! I listed off the organizations I contacted so far, so that you get a feel of the scope of my project. If you could help me further develop my topic, I would be really indebted!