Ocean change – What is happening to inhabitants of the submerged islands?

Date: 25 February 2020
Time: 12:00-13:00
Venue: Bergen Global, Jekteviksbakken 31

Welcome to a Lunch Seminar with Joanna Siekiera and Mina Haugen.

Changes in Earth’s environmental system are now one of the biggest threats humanity is facing. By now, the ocean is extremely impacted by increasing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions arising from human activities. Though Small Island Developing States (SIDS) contributed the least to global warming, they are the ones suffering the most from its effects. Legal consequences of the deprivation of most or all of their territory will lead those nations to the threat of losing sovereign status in the international arena. From the law of the sea perspective, this question arises particularly when it comes to the 200-nautical miles Exclusive Economic Zone. Ocean change contributes not only to loss of territory, but also to relocation of maritime zones, displacement of people, and general uncertainty and instability.

What are the consequences for state sovereignty if the population of the Pacific Islands has to migrate as climate change refugees? What happens with the maritime sovereignties of Pacific states when the rising sea levels make dry lands dwindle? Complex legal solutions have been proposed by international lawyers – but they are very often contradictory.

Regarding the speaker:
Joanna Siekiera is an international lawyer, a doctor of philosophy in public policy. She deals with Pacific law. Her main interests are legal-political integration in the South Pacific, as well as legal consequences of ocean change in the Pacific region, especially maritime sovereignty of the submerged islands. Joanna is a legal postdoctoral fellow on the Mare Nullius Project at the University of Bergen. She was granted a scholarship at the Victoria University in Wellington. Joanna also worked at the Polish diplomatic missions and as a lecturer and legal adviser at the War Studies University in Warsaw. Her taken courses include i.a. UN CIMIC, Cultural Heritage Protection in Russia and Humanitarian Law in Poland.

Mina Haugen holds a master’s degree in law from the University of Bergen and an LL.M degree in European law from Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen. She specialised in human rights and migration, and wrote her master’s thesis on states’ human rights obligations toward persons who are displaced as a result of climate change.

A light lunch will be served. All are welcome to attend – the event is open and free for all!

Photo credits: dany13 (flickr.com) Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)