425.3 Addressing the regulatory gaps in the relocation of Alaska natives: A case study of Kivalina, Alaska

Friday, August 3, 2012: 9:30 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Christine SHEARER , UC Santa Barbara Center for Nanotechnology in Society
Through a case study of Kivalina, Alaska, this paper explores the gaps in U.S. policy for relocating Alaska Natives due to climate-induced impacts. There is currently no policy in place—within the United States or internationally—for the resettlement of communities facing permanent displacement from climate change. And in the United States there is no lead agency in charge of relocating displaced communities, despite several U.S. government reports stating that at least four Alaska Native villages, including Kivalina, must be resettled due to erosion from warming Arctic temperatures. This leaves government agencies in charge of assisting villages like Kivalina, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers, who are responsible for helping ensure Kivalina’s safety but are not empowered to innovate new procedures and holistically address what is an unprecedented problem: climate change. In exploring the problems facing Kivalina, this paper argues for: 1.) close communication between communities and government agencies to determine when relocation may be necessary, and 2.) greater flexibility around existing, relevant policies and procedures, which can help inform 3.) implementation of a protocol specifically designed for those displaced by climate change, to prevent disaster before it occurs.