Climate, Displacement & Development: Perspectives from and on Asia

Please watch the video for a recap of the session.

Global challenges relating to climate change—including challenges of mass displacement of populations, migration, sustainable development, and intersectional questions of gender—come together in unique and challenging ways in Asia. On the climate front, the melting of the glaciers in the Himalayas creates serious hydroelectric, water management, and agricultural challenges downstream, in lower-lying areas; likewise, sea level rise is causing salination of once-fertile deltas across the region, from Bangladesh and Myanmar to Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Mass displacement of populations has had compound effects on livelihoods and food security. Governments across the region have responded with a range of initiatives, many of them in partnership with international agencies, development banks, and other governments in the region and beyond, including green financing projects and development assistance targeted in particular at women and children. This webinar examines the context in which these changes are taking place and the complex policy responses that they require. We approach these complex issues by asking our panelists a series of interrelated questions to guide the discussion:

  1. How is climate affecting living conditions in the South and Southeast Asian region in particular, and what are the possible social and human consequences?
  2. How are governments in the South and Southeast Asian region responding through their national sustainability/development policies and the SDGs?
  3. What are the gender dimension of climate change and how might governments respond in terms of foreign policy and development?
  4. Could you please give examples of how SDG #5 on Gender Equality intersects or galvanizes the work you are doing to change the trajectory of our world toward low carbon societies?


Dr. Victor V. Ramraj, Centre for Asia-Pacific Initiatives (CAPI)

Webinar #11

Date: Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020
Time: 09:00 PT, 12:00 EST, 16:00 GMT

The Virtual Victoria Forum 2020, the webinars and the Victoria Forum 2021  are jointly hosted by the University of Victoria and the Senate of Canada.

This webinar is presented in partnership with:

Founding partners:


Senator Marilou McPhedran

Marilou McPhedran is a human rights lawyer, professor and activist, appointed as an independent senator in the Parliament of Canada by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in November 2016. Marilou was one of the most influential leaders of the 1981 Ad Hoc Committee of Canadian Women on the Constitution conference- the grass roots social movement of women across Canada resulting in stronger equality rights in the constitution. She co-founded several internationally recognized non-profit Canadian organizations such as the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF); the Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children (METRAC); and the Gerstein Crisis Centre for homeless discharged psychiatric patients. She was the founding Principal of the University of Winnipeg Global College and has facilitated student access to UN sessions for more than 20 years to provide practical skill building by providing rapporteur services to NGO presentations. She is a founding board member of the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (Young Women for Peace and Leadership) and has given extensive voluntary support to civil society organizations that focus on peacebuilding and women’s rights, including the Afghan Women’s Organization, Canadian Council of Muslim Women, Canadian Voice of Women for Peace, and Manitoba Women for Women of South Sudan.


Her Excellency Ambassador Doma Tshering

Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Bhutan to the UN, New York

Ambassador Doma Tshering, Permanent Representative of Bhutan to the United
Nations, presented her credentials to the UN Secretary General on 13th September
2017. She concurrently serves as Bhutan’s Ambassador to Canada, and to Brazil.
Prior to taking up her current post, she served as Director of the Department of
Multilateral Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 2012-2017.
Ambassador Tshering is a career diplomat and joined the Bhutanese Foreign Service in
1991. She previously served at the Permanent Mission of Bhutan to the UN in Geneva
as Deputy Permanent Representative (2007-2009), and as Political Counsellor at the
Mission (2005-2006) responsible for human rights matters. She has earlier served in
various capacities at the Permanent Mission of Bhutan to the UN in New York (1995-
2000) charged with political matters and the Social, Humanitarian and Cultural
Ambassador Tshering received her post graduate degree in Public Administration and
International Relations from the Ecole Nationale d’Administration in Paris, and a BA in
Political Science and Japan Studies from Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
In 2013 she received the Royal Civil Service Award (silver medal).

Dr. Victor V. Ramraj

Professor; Director of the Centre for Asia Pacific Initiatives

Victor V. Ramraj joined the University of Victoria as Professor of Law and CAPI Chair in Asia-Pacific Legal Relations in 2014, after sixteen years at the National University of Singapore (NUS), where he twice served as the Faculty’s Vice-Dean for Academic Affairs. He was also twice seconded to the Center for Transnational Legal Studies (CTLS), a consortium of global law schools in London, where he served for one year as its co-director. Professor Ramraj holds five degrees from McGill University, the University of Toronto, and Queen’s University Belfast, served as a judicial law clerk at the Federal Court of Appeal in Ottawa and as a litigation lawyer in Toronto, and remains a non-practicing membership in the Law Society of Upper Canada. He has held visiting teaching appointments at Chulalongkorn University, Kyushu University, and the University of Toronto.

Professor Ramraj has edited/co-edited several books published by Cambridge University Press, including Emergencies and the Limits of Legality (2009) and Emergency Powers in Asia: Exploring the Limits of Legality (2010). His work has been published in leading journals around the world, including Chicago-Kent Law ReviewHong Kong Law Journal, ICON: International Journal of Constitutional LawSingapore Journal of Legal Studies, South African Journal on Human RightsTilburg Law Review, and Transnational Legal Theory. His latest edited collection is entitled Covid-19 in Asia: Law and Policy Contexts (New York: Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2020).

Professor Patricia Galvão Teles

Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, Centre for International Law, NUS, Singapore

Professor Patrícia Galvão Teles has been member of the United Nations International Law Commission (ILC) since 2017 and Auxiliary Professor of International Law at the Autonomous University of Lisbon since 2002. She is also member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration since 2016 and is currently Vice-President of the Portuguese Society for International Law.

She is Adjunct Senior Researcher at the Centre for International Law (CIL) of the National University of Singapore and Co-Director of the CIL eAcademy 2020 – Singapore Academy of International Law.

At the International Law Commission, she was General Rapporteur at the 70th Session in 2018 and co-author of the topic on the Long-Term Programme of Work “Sea level rise in relation to International Law.” In 2019, she was appointed Co-chair of the Study Group on “Sea level rise in relation to International Law”.

At the Autonomous University of Lisbon, she teaches currently an undergraduate course on “Public International Law” and Master Courses on “Trends in International Law” and “Just War in International Law”. She has also taught undergraduate and graduate courses, among others, on “Human Rights”, “International Humanitarian Law”, “International Criminal Law” and “EU Law”. She has taught many other subjects at several other Portuguese Universities, Military Institutes and the Diplomatic Academy, and lectures frequently in Portugal and abroad.

Sue Szabo

Director General, Innovative and Climate Finance Bureau, Ottawa

Sue Szabo is the Director General of the Food Security and Environment Bureau at Global Affairs Canada. Her work is inspired by the desire to contribute to a world of greater equality and inclusion. She has built on a strong academic foundation in economics to move to leadership positions in policy, programming and research, in a range of public and not-for-profit organizations. She worked in over 50 countries, and given her first-hand experience on a wide range of issues, including women’s enterprises, health, innovative financing and governance. Sue has a particular interest in the potential for strategic public investments to catalyze socially beneficial private initiatives.. Sue has several years of experience in international development, including positions at Canada’s Department of Finance, Aga Khan Foundation Canada, and the World Bank. Sue holds a PhD and an MPhil in economics from the University of Cambridge.

Past Webinars

Webinar #1

Our shared future in the wake of a global pandemic: Impact on economic, social and environmental divides

The coronavirus pandemic affects us all. We fully expect it to have a much wider and deeper impact on our economies, our health care systems, our societies and social systems, our environment and our business operations. The virus is exposing and exacerbating economic and social divides already present around the world, both within and between countries.

Webinar #2

Whither cities: Addressing economic, social and environmental challenges during and beyond Covid-19

Why do civilizations decline or disappear? Some historians would suggest that inequality is one key reason why this happens. Some scholars have suggested that when less privileged members of a society feel particularly aggrieved by inequality they might just tear an entire society down.

Webinar #3

Systemic Racism & Inequality in the Middle of a Global Pandemic

Many countries around the world have found a strong call to action, a quest for change and a clarion call for solidarity as new pathways emerge from the shared struggles in the face of racial discrimination, police brutality and race-based violence around the world. 75% of Americans believe racial and ethnic discrimination is a big problem in the U.S.

Webinar #4

Power of Community Sport to Heal Social Disruptions

Sport underpins the unique connections and friendships which bring together a large part of the world’s populations.

In 2001, the united nations secretary-general, Kofi Annan, founded the office on sport for development and peace, noting that sport has “an almost unmatched role to play in promoting understanding, healing wounds, mobilising support for social causes and breaking down barriers”.

Webinar #5

Bridging Divides: Trust In Multilateralism

The global COVID pandemic has led to unprecedented measures of forced lockdowns and border closings. It halted movements of people and reduced flows of goods around the world. Yet, COVID has also demonstrated the need for international cooperation in developing a global health response to the pandemic, and mitigating its menacing economic and social impact around the world.

Webinar #6

Data-driven decision-making: truth and trust in science

The emergence of COVID-19 and its impact on individuals and societies across the world have driven home the totalizing effect of global risks, a critical element of what Ulrich Beck once called our modern day “risk society.” Beck was interested in the interconnectedness of risk and society’s response to uncertainty, both key elements of today’s pandemic.

Webinar #7

The “Great Reset”: Making Finance Work for an Inclusive and Resilient Future

The Covid-19 pandemic forced governments around the world to put in place unprecedented fiscal and monetary stimulus packages in response to the devastating effects of the global pandemic.

Webinar #8

Bridging Divides: Trust In Globalization

Globalization is about the (relatively) free movement of ideas, people, goods, and capital across borders. All of these flows, and their impact, were being questioned before COVID-19 but take on renewed focus in its aftermath. There are those who celebrate a reversal of some or all of these flows, and others who lament the consequences of such actions.

Webinar #9

The future of business and banking, post-pandemic

Covid-19 has exposed and exacerbated the divides facing our world, and businesses are considering how to recover from the immediate effects, respond to medium- and long-term changes that the pandemic may have precipitated, and use the opportunity to redress some of the imbalances that existed previously. Financial institutions are key players in responding to these changes.

Webinar #10

Bridging gender divides: the impact of Covid-19 on equality

Covid-19 poses different challenges for women all over the world. Often, women are caught between seemingly contradictory trends. Depending on who they are, where they are and what situation they find themselves in, women are experiencing the pandemic as a time of regress or progress, with traditional gender roles becoming reinforced for some while others are able to access online education and networks in unprecedented ways