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Session Overview
RN12_08a_H: Migration and the Environmental Crisis
Thursday, 31/Aug/2017:
6:00pm - 7:30pm

Session Chair: Cigdem Adem, The Public Administration Institute for Turkey and the Middle East
Location: HA.3.10
HAROKOPIO University 70 El. Venizelou Street 17671 Athens, Greece Building: A, Level: 3.

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“From the African drought to the European utopia”: representations of the environment and social experiences of mobility of refugees and migrants from water-stressed countries

Inês Vieira

FCSH/NOVA, Portugal

Environment, migration and asylum are among the most socially constructed issues of the 21st century. Research and political debates around the intersection of these issues developed particularly in the last years, having recently gained institutional recognition in diverse UN frameworks and conventions.

The social construction of this problem also implied a growing symbolic dimension, particularly through its incorporation on visual and verbal discourses not only through science, but also media and social actors that shape the comprehension of social and environmental issues by the lay audience (ex. Pope Francis).

But a gap can be found in the subjective dimension of this social construction: albeit the reiterated importance to research and develop policies on environmental migrations, the identification of “environmental/climate refugees” or “environmental migrants” has been discouraged (IPCC, Foresight), considering the difficulty of isolating the environmental factor within mobility drivers, as well as the non-identification with such labels by some of the people which could be paradigmatically affected by environmental and climate changes (ex. Tuvaluans).

To explore the subjective dimension of those who move from countries with environmental risk, particularly water stress, we propose to discuss the results of a qualitative PhD research work developed with Ethiopians and Eritreans in Italy and Cape Verdeans in Portugal. The aim is to explore the reflexivity of migrants and refugees and their representations on environmental factors in the countries of origin, the interrelations with other drivers of mobility, and the framing within their own experiences of mobility towards Southern Europe.

Do immigrant shepherds contribute to tackling generational renewal in euro-Mediterranean pastoralism ?

Domenica Farinella1, Michele Nori2, Athanasios Ragkos3

1University of Cagliari, Italy; 2European University Institute, Italy; 3Technological Educational Institute of Western Macedonia, Greece

While the societal demand for the products as well as the services of pastoral systems is growing, this does not seem to translate into an improvement in the living and working conditions of those who work in this sector. Current dynamics rather indicate that the sons of breeders often seek alternatives outside pastoralism, thus favoring the depopulation of mountain areas and exposing pastures to a problem of generational renewal. This is the context witnessing a growing presence of immigrant shepherds, who reach southern Europe from other pastoral areas in the Mediterranean, coming to provide skilled labor at a relatively low cost. The paper analyzes in a comparative key the role of immigrant salaried shepherds in four different Mediterranean countries (Italy, Spain, France and Greece). Their presence enables maintaining alive and productive the pastures, reproducing the patterns of a generational renewal associated to an ethnic substitution that has characterized Euro-Mediterranean pastoralism in the last century. The transition from manual labor to entrepreneurship and livestock ownership in this sector shows very low rates for migrants, and this undermines the ability of the incoming population to contribute to the future of the pastoralism. Immigrants only represent though one of the options to revive this sector. In order to promote the sustainability and the development of the pastoralism, it is necessary to ensure decent living and working conditions for extensive breeders and shepherds (foreign and local) alike, and to provide a perspective of upgrading in social as well as economic terms. Sustainable pastoralism will therefore be the result not only of a system of aid and subsidies, but it rather requires the articulation of an enabling political framework.

Bridging the GM divide: Towards a consensus-based mediated dialogue

Aristeidis Panagiotou

Hellenic Federation of Enterprises, Greece

The recent EU Directive 2015/412, which has allowed Member States to restrict or prohibit the cultivation of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) on their territory, has brought to light three major dimensions of the GM controversy. Namely, the lack of scientific agreement on central aspects of the technology, the significant pressure on the political field from both GM advocates and skeptics for more robust regulation, and the public distrust towards this particular type of biotechnology. This paper suggests that while these three issues are institutionally distinct as they are anchored in different fields (scientific, political, public/civil), they can be fruitfully streamlined through a face-to-face participatory deliberation process. By critically synthesizing various models of mediated dialogue from the multi-disciplinary field of Conflict Resolution, a seven-stage consensus-based approach is proposed. The aim of this approach is twofold. Firstly, to foster intra-scientific dialogue through specific techniques that the appointed facilitator can routinely employ during specific stages of the process. Secondly, to substitute the typically crystallized in formal frameworks dichotomy of science-based evidence and value-base opinion with the idea of inclusive governance where scientists, decision-makers, and stakeholders are considered as equally influenced by the external environment of action and their own personal idiosyncrasies. Being flexible in its scope and complexity, the suggested informal dialogue can complement national and international decision-making processes as part of a holistic risk governance framework.

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