Climate Displacement Expert Kayly Ober Joins Refugees International

WASHINGTON—Refugees International today announced the appointment of Kayly Ober as Senior Advocate and Program Manager for Climate Displacement, focusing on the people who have been forced to flee their home due to climate change. Ober will succeed Alice Thomas, the founding program manager who led the program with distinction for a decade.

“We are thrilled that Kayly has agreed to lead our critically important work on climate and displacement,” said Eric Schwartz, president of Refugees International. “Kayly brings a unique combination of energy, expertise, and experience to the position, and her extraordinary understanding of the issues will greatly enhance our advocacy on behalf of displaced people worldwide.”

Ober has critically examined climate-induced migration, the potential of migration as one form of adaptation to climate change, and ways to enhance and even transform policies of international organizations on climate and migration. She has extensive background and experience, having worked on these issues in a broad array of environments and institutions, most recently at the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank.

“The twin crises of climate change and migration are converging in ways that demand action, advocacy, and accountability among world leaders and governments like never before,” Ober said. “And there is no better organization that practices robust, independent advocacy for the displaced people of the world than Refugees International. I’m very eager to sustain and strengthen the work of this vital program.”  

The Climate Displacement Program was inspired by the vision of Refugees International’s late president, Ken Bacon, and initiated with a founding gift from Ken and generous contributions from the Bacon family and a core group of supporters a decade ago. Building on the organization’s four decades of lifesaving advocacy on behalf of refugees and displaced people, the program advocates for improved assistance, protection, and solutions for vulnerable communities and individuals uprooted in the context of extreme weather and climate change. The program seeks to ensure that responses are informed by the views of affected communities and embraces a human rights-based approach toward humanitarian response.

Kayly Ober is completing a PhD in Geography at the University of Bonn, with a focus on climate change adaptation and migration. She holds a Master of Science in Environment and Development from the London School of Economics (distinction) and a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies from American University.  


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