Food Security and Migration in the Coastal Arctic and Sub-Arctic

Arctic temperatures are rising two to three times faster than in the lower-latitude regions. Some of the hardest-hit places are rural coastal communities. Food insecurity and migration are two closely intertwined outcomes of environmental stressors and ecological disruptions (Howe et al. 2014). Threats to traditional livelihoods and food sources, due to declining reliability of safe access to and availability of traditional foods, may lead to shifts in household subsistence food utilization, food expenditures, and overall diet quality.

One response to increased environmental variability and associated livelihood security loss is to migrate to a new community. Widespread impacts may prompt coastal households to bypass other rural Arctic communities, leading to significant rural to urban migration as residents, especially younger ones, search for jobs (Hamilton et al. 2016; Marino 2015). Community relocation for particularly vulnerable communities is another option, but such moves generally require enormous amounts of government funding and are not practical (Marino 2015; Shearer 2011). Other factors that influence responses to climate-induced insecurity include: macroeconomic trends and conditions at state, national, and global levels; community governance structures, practices, and resource management; local and Indigenous knowledge; and household dynamics including age and gender-related divisions of labor. Despite these challenges, there is no evidence of large-scale Arctic rural out-migration, even from the most threatened communities, making understanding the drivers and determinants of this outcome a critical research need (Huntington et al. 2017).

This session calls for papers that examine the drivers and processes of food security and migration/community relocation, make a linkage between food security and migration, and/or make related policy recommendations to tackle the challenges faced by Arctic communities. We welcome both theoretical and empirical papers that offer new perspectives and/or evidence of food security and migration in the Arctic and sub-Arctic.