Dr Victoria Herrmann1
1The Arctic Institute | American University , Washington , United States
The proposed oral presentation presents the findings of a two-year research project, funded by National Geographic, on climate-induced community displacement, migration, and retreat in the US and US Territories. By conducting 350+ semi-structured interviews to identify perceived gaps in support for community adaptation and relocation from the federal government, the research found that culturally important species and landscapes were a critical factor in community decision-making of slow-onset disaster migration. The presentation uses case studies from three field sites in Alaska, Louisiana, and American Samoa to examine the role plant and animal species migration is plays in local leaders’ considerations on community migration and relocation. The cases will present how species migration impacts the food security, spirituality, and medicinal wellbeing of each Alaska Native, Native American, and American Samoan community and the intersection of species and human migration as it relates to climate change impacts. The presentation will conclude with policy applications for the research and next steps for future researchers at the nexus of human and species migration. By 2100, at least 414 towns, villages, and cities across the United States will be partially inundated no matter how much humans decrease carbon emissions. As communities across the US pursue relocation as a climate adaptation, it is critical to consider the role species migrations plays in local decision making in order to support resilient migration and the wellbeing of at-risk communities.
Dr. Victoria Herrmann is the President and Managing Director of The Arctic Institute. In addition to managing the Institute and Board of Directors, her research and writing focus on climate change, community adaptation, and cultural heritage. As a National Geographic Explorer, she led the America’s Eroding Edges project in 2016 and 2017. The research identified gaps in national assistance for coastal community relocation to climate impacts in the US and US Territories through 350+ interviews. Her current project, Rise Up to Rising Tides, is creating an online matchmaking platform that connects pro bono experts with climate-affected communities with support from the JMK Innovation Prize. In cooperation with the Lowlander Center in Louisiana, Victoria is also leading the creation of a climate-migration dialogue framework between climate-displaced coastal-bayou communities and inland-high ground receiving communities.
Victoria previously worked as a Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the National Academies of Sciences’ Polar Research Board and as a Junior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Energy and Climate Program. She was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to Canada to pursue Arctic research in 2013. She currently teaches sustainability management at American University; science communication at the University Centre of the Westfjords, Iceland; and public speaking at National Geographic Sciencetelling Bootcamps. Victoria received her PhD in Geography as a Gates Scholar from the Scott Polar Research Institute at Cambridge University in 2018 and holds a Masters degree from the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University.