This second joint policy brief, produced by the United Nations University (UNU) and the Nansen Initiative, examines the available options for coordinating and linking human mobility issues with climate change–related policies and planning, in particular, the development of national adaptation plans (NAPs).
As part of IOM’s annual International Dialogue on Migration – dedicated in 2011 to the theme The Future of Migration: Building Capacities for Change – the IOM membership selected the topic "Climate Change, Environmental Degradation and Migration" as the focus of a workshop in Geneva, Switzerland on 29 and 30 March 2011. The workshop identified some of the main areas in which governments and institutions may need to reinforce their capacities to manage the complex interactions between climate change and environmental degradation and human mobility. The workshop was framed by the notion that a comprehensive approach to managing environmental migration would aim to minimize to the extent possible forced migration resulting from environmental factors; where forced migration does occur, to ensure assistance and protection for those affected and seek durable solutions to their situation; and, lastly, to facilitate the role of migration as an adaptation strategy to climate change.
The following four main areas for capacity-building received particular emphasis during the workshop: 1) Knowledge base and research capacity on environmental migration; 2) Capacities to devise solid legal and institutional frameworks to ensure the protection of those on the move for environmental reasons; 3) Capacities for comprehensive migration management policies to tackle the multifaceted impacts of climate change and environmental degradation on human mobility; 4) Technical and operational capacities to support vulnerable populations and promote effective migration management in the context of environmental changes.
The environment has always been a driver of migration, as people flee to survive natural disasters or, faced with harsh and deteriorating environmental conditions, move to seek opportunities elsewhere. Climate change is expected to exacerbate sudden- and slow-onset disasters and gradual environmental degradation. Through these impacts, climate change is already influencing migration around the world.
IOM applies its comprehensive migration management approach to the linkages between migration, climate change and the environment. Sustainable development is recognized as an integral part of this approach, implemented through disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation measures. Through its activities, IOM helps to reduce the vulnerability of populations exposed to environmental risk factors, assists populations on the move as a result of disasters and environmental change, and builds the capacities of governments and other actors to face the challenge of environmental migration. Since 2000, more than 500 projects have been funded as part of IOM’s response to environmental migration.
There is a scientific consensus that few places in the world will experience the range of effects and the severity of the impacts of Climate Change in Asia and the Pacific.
At the “First, Do No Harm: Avoiding Maladaptation to Climate Change” conference at the Rockfeller Foundation Center in Bellagio, Italy, I, along with other delegates from different countries, were forced to reflect how environmental induced migration is linked to the broader debates of adaptation and development.