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Beyond displacement: rethinking Pacific climate mobility

17 May 2024

As rising water threatens low-lying Pacific islands, is moving the only solution? In her talk, researcher Dr Dalila Gharbaoui will discuss climate mobility.


This upcoming UC Tauhere Connect public talk delves into the urgent issue of climate change’s impact on coastal regions worldwide, with a focus on low-lying atoll states in the Pacific. These vulnerable regions face the very real threat of becoming uninhabitable due to rising sea levels and extreme weather events.

While climate mobility is often discussed as an inevitable consequence, this presentation by Climate Crisis Research Fellow Dr Dalila Gharbaoui from the Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Canterbury, challenges prevailing narratives. In her talk, on Wednesday evening, 29 May, she will shed light on the overlooked voices of Pacific communities who advocate for ‘staying with dignity’. 

“In climate change discourse, climate mobility is often portrayed as an inevitability, not only for atolls but in other, larger Pacific Nations,” Dr Gharbaoui says. “These resilient communities have rich histories of adapting to environmental risks, drawing on their cultural heritage and resourcefulness.”

By examining the portrayal of ‘climate migrants,’ her talk aims to broaden our understanding of adaptation futures. It emphasises the importance of including immobile populations who choose to remain in their ancestral lands. 

“Rather than victimising Pacific peoples, we should recognise their resilience, sense of place, and innovative approaches to sovereignty,” she says.

Join us as we explore the diverse experiences of climate (im)mobilities in the Pacific and beyond, reimagining a future that prioritises both adaptation and dignity.

About the speaker
Dalila Gharbaoui is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Canterbury under the NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs-funded Pacific Ocean and Climate Crisis Assessment. She holds a PhD in Political and Social Sciences from University of Liege (Hugo Observatory on Environmental Migration) and a PhD in Pacific Studies from the University of Canterbury gained with the support of Te Pūtea Rangahau a Marsden | Marsden Fund. Dalila’s PhD thesis focused on climate-related (im)mobility and land governance in the Pacific region. She is involved in ongoing field work with the Pacific Ocean and Climate Crisis Assessment study, a multi-million dollar research project led by Distinguished Professor Steven Ratuva in partnership with the University of the South Pacific and with funding from Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT).

  • UC Tauhere Connect public talk: Beyond displacement: rethinking climate mobility in the Pacific, Presented by Dr Dalila Gharbaoui, UC Arts, 7pm – 8pm, Wednesday 29 May 2024, in the Central lecture theatre (C Block), Ilam campus, University of Canterbury, Christchurch. Register to attend free at: (This event will be livestreamed and can be viewed later on YouTube. Videos of UC Tauhere Connect talks are available a week after the live event. Check them out here.)

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