What do you mean by displaced?
The term “displaced” encompasses all the people that have left their communities due to war, climate change or persecution. From refugees, to internally displaced people, stateless people and asylum seekers, many have had to leave places and loved ones behind. In this project we will initially work with refugees, as they have a legal status that authorities tolerate, which makes it possible to scale this project. However, we want this project to prove that all migrants should be welcome, and have rights. Ultimately that all migrants are valuable members of society if integration systems are well designed.
Why link climate change and forced displacement?
This might not be a fact that the international community agrees on yet, but climate change is driving a mass movement of people away from their homes. Events like political instability and hurricanes are on the rise as a result of changes in our climate. As the Environmental Justice Foundation states, “Climate change is no longer a future threat. It is happening here and now, and communities across the world - from the Pacific Islands to Alaska - are already fleeing in the wake of the mass destruction and greater social, economic and political instability it brings”.
What is the definition of refugee?
According to the UNHCR « A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. Most likely, they cannot return home or are afraid to do so. War and ethnic, tribal and religious violence are leading causes of refugees fleeing their countries »
This definition needs to evolve to also include climate refugees.
To Learn more check https://www.unrefugees.org/refugee-facts/what-is-a-refugee/
Will this project only be for refugees?
No. This project is about community driven integration: we aim to create a mix of refugees and locals in all the ecosystems we create. We want to create opportunities for refugees to meet Londoners and create true connections that can open up opportunities, and help either out of isolation. We want to foster true integration.
Do refugees have the right to work?
Anyone given refugee status in the UK will also have a National Insurance number, and is permitted to work at any skill level. This can be a serious challenge however, as many refugees have lost years of their lives in the asylum seeking process, with few opportunities to learn english, make connections or build/maintain a skill base. On top of this, when a person is given refugee status, they have just 28 days to find accommodation and apply for mainstream benefits before they are evicted from asylum accommodation. Many refugees become homeless at this stage, making the job search even more difficult (Refugee Action)
Why does this project focus so much on sustainability? Isn’t Integration big enough a challenge?
We firmly believe that these issue are tightly interwoven. The vast majority of people who seek asylum have fled countries ravaged by war. Wars is most often the result of resource and land conflicts. And the more unstable our climate becomes, the less resources our lands provide. Simply solving how we welcome displaced peoples is important but not enough. We need to solve a even deeper tension: how we live together on this earth without plundering resources. How we can live sustainably.
We know this is possible, and affordable to all. We want to empower all members of society towards this vision by changing the systems that underpin our behavior. This is about making sustainability and integration effortless - and embedded within our societies.
A system-wide change that begins with a small Pilot.
So what exactly are you going to do?
At the moment, we are looking for buildings in London. When we have those, we’ll analyse the landscape and demography, and with the local community we will apply many different projects to the sites. We’ll organise these projects to act synergistically so they drive our vision: community driven integration and sustainability.