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The Nexus Between Human Trafficking, Climate Change, and Natural Disasters

As the waters begin to recede following the devastating floods that killed more than 400 people and displaced thousands more in India’s southwestern state of Kerala, it is a reminder of the link between human settlement and the wider environment. While no
Photograph of person holding up a globe.
quantitative study shows whether there is a rise or fall in instances of human trafficking following a natural disaster, several non-governmental and news outlets report that displacement of people from these events combined with a global demand for cheap labor creates conditions that increase a person’s vulnerability to human trafficking.

A recent blog post from NewSecurityBeat provides a case study of how regional instability resulting from droughts, flooding, and a host of other factors has created thousands of migrants from the African Sahel who venture from the region to leave their situation and are targeted by terrorists, smugglers, traffickers, and other criminals along a migratory route through Libya to reach Europe. 

As climate change worsens, we can likely expect more of these sorts of situations to develop if we do not take preventative measures. Kevin Bales argues that one way to limit the impacts of climate change is to address the issue of human trafficking. Bales argues that by curtailing human trafficking, we can help mitigate carbon emissions that result from this human rights abuse. Bales provides a variety of examples of how human trafficking contributes to environmental degradation in his book, "Blood and Earth".  For instance, deforestation through illegal logging that sometimes takes place with forced labor contributes to elevated CO2 emissions. Carbon dioxide emissions are a significant driver of climate change and as CO2 levels continue to increase, there is an expected increase in the frequency and potency of extreme weather events and prolonged droughts. The United States military recognizes these situations as a “threat multipliers” noting the associated risks of climate change and displacement of people in strategic documents (PDF).

Despite this apparent link between human trafficking and natural disasters, the connection between these phenomena remains underexplored; especially in light of information that climate-driven natural disasters are a significant national security issue as well as a humanitarian one. While we might lack empirical data that fully articulates the connection human trafficking has on the issue of climate change, that should not preclude the United States and the international community from taking action on human trafficking issues and other underlying long-term issues that displace people, things like climate change and conflict.  

News and Publications

The Colorado Department of Human Services' Division of Youth Services recently launched a pilot program to provide adjudicated youth trauma-responsive therapeutic care in a home-like environment. The program is currently serving 24 youth at the Lookout Mountain Youth Services Center. The center provided existing infrastructure which could easily be modified to meet the program’s needs, according to Nourie Boraie, Deputy Director of Communications for the department. The pilot was modeled after Missouri’s well-known reform of its secure juvenile facilities, which replaced large training schools with small, dorm-like settings built around positive youth development principles.

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CPR reports that there will once again be a ballot measure in this year's election to remove language that allows for slavery or involuntary servitude as a punishment for crime from the Colorado Constitution. Amendment A, if passed, would remove language that allows for slavery or involuntary servitude as punishment for crime. The upcoming Colorado election takes place Tuesday, November 6 this year. For more information about Amendment A, as well as other measures on this year's ballot, visit
Man cleaning a toilet
A new report titled, "Shortchanged: The Big Business Behind the Low Wage J-1 Au Pair Program" examines the United States' J-1 au pair program of cultural exchange. Informed by first-hand interviews with program participants, the report argues that structural deficiencies in the J-1 au pair program leads to an increased likelihood of labor rights abuses. The report contends that the program does little to provide cultural exchange experiences for program participants who join the program. Instead, report authors maintain that the program mirrors the structure of other temporary labor programs whereby recruiters and sponsor agencies hold control over au pairs through recruitment fees and abusive working conditions.

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 A new intergovernmental report examines the relationship between human trafficking and money laundering. The report, produced by the Financial Action Task Force and the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering, is comprised of three main parts:
  1. An overview of the scale and scope of human trafficking.
  2. Human trafficking case studies and associated laundering analysis.
  3. Challenges and good practices in fighting money laundering associated with human trafficking.

Upcoming Events & Trainings

Upcoming Webinars

Futures Without Violence is hosting a webinar titled, IPV/Human Trafficking and Substance Abuse Treatment, with a Lens on Behavioral Health, Substance Abuse Programs and DV Agencies. This webinar will take place on September 12, 2018 from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. MT. For more information, including how to register, visit the event registration page

The National Criminal Justice Training Center of Fox Valley Technical College is hosting a webinar titled, Prosecuting Sex Traffickers: Strategies for Witnesses in Child Sex Trafficking and Exploitation Cases. The webinar will take place on September 13, 2018, from 12:00 to 1:15 p.m. MT. To learn more, including how to register, visit the registration page. Following this webinar, the training center will also host another webinar titled, Prosecuting Sex Traffickers: Trial Preparation from 11:00 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. MT on September 20, 2018. For more information, including how to register, visit the registration page

The National Center for Campus Public Safety is hosting a webinar titled, Human Trafficking: What Your Campus Needs to Know. This webinar will take place on September 18, 2018, from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. MT. For more information, including how to register, visit the registration page

Special Events

The Denver Anti-Trafficking Alliance is hosting a free event titled, Underground Economies: Addressing Urban Labor Trafficking in our Community. The Keynote address will be provided by Alameda County, CA Deputy District Attorney William Murphy, with a panel discussion to follow the keynote address. This event will take place on September 26, 2018, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. at the Rose Andom Center. For more information, including how to register, visit

The Human Trafficking Task Force of Southern Colorado will host its Annual Human Trafficking Symposium on October 13, 2018 at Centennial Hall in Colorado Springs. The symposium will take place from 8:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. For more information, including how to register, visit the task force's website

Save the Date

Freedom Network USA announced that the 2019 Conference would be held March 20-21, 2019 at the Hilton Mark Center in Alexandria, VA. The title of the 2019 conference is Grounding and Growing: Tools for a Powerful Anti-Trafficking Movement. Visit the Freedom Network USA website for more details. 

Regional Anti-Trafficking Collaboration Meetings

September 10th, 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. Western Slope Against Trafficking. WSAT meetings are not open to the public. For more information, please contact Tom Acker. ​

September 11th,  10:30 – 11:30 a.m. Alliance to Combat Human Trafficking (ACHT) Pueblo. ACHT meetings are not open to the public. For more information, please contact ​
September 11th,  5:30 – 7:00 p.m. Human Trafficking Task Force of Southern Colorado. This meeting is held at the First United Methodist Church in Colorado Springs (map). For more information, please contact Roger Patrizio.

September  13th, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. North Eastern Colorado Coalition Against Trafficking. Meetings are held in Greeley, CO but are not open to the public. For more information, please contact Diana Laws.

CHTC and FRAC Meeting Dates

Upcoming Council Meeting

September 28th from 9:00  11:00 a.m.
The meeting will begin at 9:00 AM. Colorado Human Trafficking Council (CHTC) meetings are always open to the public and held at the Jefferson County Human Services Building (map). For more information please visit the CHTC Homepage.

Upcoming FRAC Meeting

October 18th from 2:00 3:30 P.M. 
Front Range Anti-trafficking Coalition (FRAC) meetings are open to the public. The location of the next FRAC meeting is the Community Room at the DPD District II Station. For more information about the next FRAC meeting, please contact Cate Bowman.
The content of this newsletter is not an endorsement nor does it reflect the opinions, views, or affiliations of the Colorado Department of Public Safety, Division of Criminal Justice, the Colorado Human Trafficking Council, or the Front-Range Anti-trafficking Coalition. The content of this newsletter is intended for informational purposes only. 

Copyright © 2018 Colorado Department of Public Safety, Division of Criminal Justice, Office for Victims Programs, All rights reserved.

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