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What is "Just Transition"?

The Impact of Climate Change on Tribal Communities in the US: Displacement, Relocation, and Human Rights

This collection of case studies examines the implications of climate-induced relocation and U.S. government support for Indigenous peoples facing the threat of displacement.


Sea level rise, erosion, and permafrost thaw are threatening to displace coastal and low-lying Indigenous communities in the United States. These communities are now faced with the challenge of climate-induced relocation. This paper presents three case studies from Kivalina and Newtok, Alaska, and Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana, to examine the implications of displacement on these communities and propose an international standard for resettlement and relocation rooted in a human rights framework.

These three communities are already facing the devastating consequences of climate change and have begun preparations to relocate. However, the U.S. government has provided them little assistance with their resettlement. In fact, current policies limit the amount of government support and funds available to these communities for relocation and instead channel assistance and funding toward the existing at-risk areas.

In response to the inadequate levels of assistance, the authors propose creating a unified federal agency and relocation policy to coordinate resettlement efforts. This new approach should advocate for the rights and desires of Indigenous people and maintain their tribal rights to determination and preservation. If successful, this approach can serve as a model for relocation policy globally.

An Institutional Analysis of Biofuel Policies and their Social Implications: Lessons from Brazil, India and Indonesia

This report assesses the social and environmental impacts of the ambitious biofuel policy programs of Brazil, India, and Indonesia.


“This comparative assessment of Brazil, India, and Indonesia—which have sought to spur rural development through the development of biofuel alternatives—indicates there are several limitations associated with socially oriented biofuel policy. In particular, these countries adopted a two-tiered approach that largely relied upon established agribusiness and only incorporated the rural poor by having them cultivate non-food crops on “marginal lands.” The author offers a list of biofuel policy recommendations for achieving more extensive socioeconomic benefits for the rural poor.

For the three countries, biofuels policy tools often included subsidies, tax incentives, and blending mandates. However, these poorly designed, top-down policies failed to alleviate the burdens of the rural poor and were later revised. These approaches often expanded incentives and markets for corporations instead of for smallholders, failed to address equity issues, and lacked smallholder participation. These policy failures resulted in increased food insecurity, exploitation of smallholders by government and agribusiness, increased instances of monoculture (which can result in reduced crop yield or resilience and therefore lost income), and poor quality of employment opportunities (as reflected in increases in seasonal and migrant work).

In the future, more participatory decision-making in biofuel policies is needed to avoid these failures and improve outcomes for the rural poor. The report identifies three elements that appear to be crucial to successful biofuel policies: combination of feedstock and food production; inclusion of the concerns and interests of smallholders; and provisions for smallholders to gradually ascend in the value chain, specifically in expanding local ownership of oil extraction facilities.”