Assessing the evidence: opportunities and challenges of migration in building resilience against climate change in the Republic of Mauritius

Assessing the evidence: opportunities and challenges of migration in building resilience against climate change in the Republic of Mauritius

The World Risk Report (UNU, 2015) ranks the Republic of Mauritius seventh among the 15 most exposed countries to natural hazards, namely sea-level rise, cyclones and floods; and thirteenth among 171 countries for its disaster risk. However, being aware of climate change challenges, the Government of Mauritius has initiated studies more than a decade ago and subsequently took action to develop adaptation and mitigation strategies.

This study analyses the prospects that migration could offer to mitigate the effects of climate change both in the short run and over the long term for the Republic of Mauritius. In fact, the migration profile of the country is multifaceted. It has been found that there is an increasing demand for international labour to work in the low-skilled sectors, while there is currently a high number of Mauritians, particularly those who study abroad, who seek to migrate because of better job prospects and opportunities. Within Mauritius, there is a high mobility of people migrating across districts and to and from Rodrigues. There is now evidence that some people from Rodrigues are coming to settle to Mauritius Island because of environment and climate-related issues. In addition, as the population is becoming older, Mauritius will, in a decade or so, become a human capital-stressed economy. These migration dynamics must be put in perspective to encompass climate change threats besides addressing socioeconomic, political and demographic challenges.

Some of the policy recommendations that emerge from the study:

  • develop an action plan that emphasizes the restoration of degraded or potentially degradable natural capital over the long term to contain migration and sustain livelihoods
  • institute a disaster management protocol for areas with high population density and where built-up areas fail to respond to unexpected natural hazards
  • establish comprehensive relocation plans for highly exposed and vulnerable communities, including squatters both in coastal and urban areas, living in precarious conditions
  • set up a framework to address the long-run sustainable livelihoods schemes with respect to internal migration and the outer islands. A special framework could be devised for those who have to migrate due to the degradation of the natural capital caused by climate change
  • foster dialogues on migration management and potential migratory outcomes of natural hazards within a regional context
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