This year's conference focuses on the theme of Territory and Climate. The conference will be preceded by a public lecture by Prof. Cara Nine (University of Nevada) on the topic.
Climate change transforms territory and the environmental and social pressures on it in various ways. Land can be rendered unfit for its former uses, e.g. as agricultural areas, or acquire new, highly important functions, e.g. as carbon sinks or biodiversity hotspots. Inhabitants of these changing territories might lose traditional ways of life or their ways of earning their living as their environment changes. Under the worse scenarios, territory may become uninhabitable or areas of intense land-based conflict. Alternatively, some land might gain in value as it is used for new purposes, e.g. enhancing carbon sink capacity, or becomes more accessible for resource exploitation like some Arctic regions. Such changes also heighten internal as well as cross-border migration, posing questions about fair resource sharing and just border regimes in the face of climate refugees, wandering species, and rapidly changing, or even disappearing land-mass.
Climate change thus forces us to rethink the concept and value of territory and the associated territorial rights such as national jurisdiction, exclusive resource rights of the state, and the right to control borders and migration. Relatedly, concepts such as resource sovereignty, the right to non-interference (with respect to environmental decisions), sustainability, as well as our current understandings of the use and value of land have to undergo a critical evaluation and potential reframing. How can and should these rights, and the underlying concepts, be understood and adapted in a rapidly changing environment?
The inaugural Tromsø Conference in Ethics and Political Philosophy focuses on questions and debates around all issues connected to territory, climate, and its various interconnections.