Migration with Dignity: Lessons from Pacific Islanders in the United States

March 12, 2019 10:00 am — 12:00 pm
Washington, DC (and webinar)

Cosponsored by:  Environmental Law Institute, University of Tokyo, Arkansas Coalition of Marshallese, Micronesian Islander Community, and Hosei University

Migration is increasing from Pacific Islands to mainland United States for several factors including education, jobs, family, and health. Though climate change is not (yet) a primary driver of emigration, it is often cited as a reason to not return to the islands. This migration often happens quite quickly, with little planning, and the transition to a new way of life may not occur as seamlessly as hoped.

In 2014, then-President Anote Tong of Kiribati announced the intention to empower his people to Migrate with Dignity. Though still emerging in conceptualization, this framework seeks to maintain cultural integrity and ensure access to education, employment, and healthcare without losing the skills and knowledge migrants received in their parent country. With these elements in mind, the Environmental Law Institute, the University of Tokyo, Hosei University, the Micronesian Islander Community, and the Arkansas Coalition of the Marshallese have designed and undertaken research studies to better understand the elements that both support and challenge the concept of Migration with Dignity.

Discussed were a number of lessons learned from Pacific Islanders in the United States, and how the concept of Migration with Dignity can be built with this shared knowledge.

Carl Bruch
, Environmental Law Institute, Moderator
Mikiyasu Nakayama, Professor and Department Head Environmental Studies, University of Tokyo
Melisa Laelan, Director, Arkansas Coalition of Marshallese
Kapiolani Micky, Certified Health Worker, Micronesian Islander Community
Shanna McClain, Visiting Policy Analyst, Environmental Law Institute
Scott Drinkall, Visiting Researcher, Environmental Law Institute