Maddison is executive director of the Marshallese Educational Initiative (MEI), a nonprofit seeking to improve emergency response and communication on climate-related issues, among other cultural awareness efforts.

“Part of what we’ve done at MEI is to educate the community, especially young people, about climate change. It’s already impacting our country, our islands,” said Maddison.

Such lessons are being taught nationwide - including in Buffalo, New York, where Asian and African immigrants have brought vertical farming techniques that can better withstand high levels of heat and other climate-related impacts.

“It’s really our immigrants and refugees who are able to grow an incredible amount of food in a 10x10 plot,” said Rahwa Ghirmatzion, executive director of PUSH Buffalo, a social justice advocacy group.

“They’re able to harvest three to four times in a season, and do it using a lot of re-used materials - it’s a sight to behold,” said Ghirmatzion, who was born in Eritrea in 1976 and whose family fled during the civil war.

While many cite political instability as the reason for leaving their countries of origin, Ghirmatzion said climate stresses like heat waves and drought - and ripple effects on food supplies and civil conflict - are another major factor.

Meanwhile, on the West Coast, advocates in California are urging public officials to boost funding for so-called “resilience hubs“, which could help prepare localities for climate-related impacts through immigrant-led initiatives.

The approach bolsters respected local organisations, such as a church or community centre, to help neighbourhoods get ready for crises - hurricanes, heatwaves, pandemics or unrest - as well as to respond and recover from them.

The state has recently allocated at least $100 million for resilience hubs, with strong input from immigrants from Asia and climate justice groups like the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN).

That funding could support the development of 10 to 20 projects statewide to provide, for example, new solar panels and battery storage or emergency response services, proponents say.

It is vital for immigrant and refugee communities “to feel like these places are safe places … that they are the visionaries of the design of what these facilities look like,” said Amee Raval, APEN’s policy and research director.

Read the full article about lessons on climate resilience from Thomson Reuters Foundation at Eco-Business.