Migration, climate change and the environment

Migration, climate change and the environment

Migration, climate change and environment

Environmental factors have long had an impact on global migration flows. Although there is limited reliable data on the subject, the scale of such flows, both internal and cross-border, is expected to rise significantly over the next decades as a result of climate change. This short policy brief presents key information and analysis on the interplay between migration, climate change and the environment. It is designed as a general introduction to the topic and presentation of the perspective and involvement of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in this field.

The brief highlights how many other issues, such as conflict, human rights, gender, levels of development, public health as well as governance questions, affect the migratory consequences of environmental factors. Environmental drivers of migration are often coupled with economic, social and developmental factors that can accelerate and to a certain extent mask the impact of climate change. The authors highlight how with a cross-cutting issue such as this, no one agency or stakeholder alone holds the key to the solutions. IOM pursues collaborative approaches, including efforts to:

  • raise policy and public awareness of the need for concerted action to address the challenges presented by the climate change, environmental degradation and migration nexus
  • support further research to improve the knowledge base regarding the complex relationships between climate change, environmental degradation and migration in terms of cause and consequence, long-term as well as short-term patterns
  • develop policy coherence at national and international levels by mainstreaming environmental and climate change considerations into migration management policies and practice, and vice-versa, and by strengthening linkages with other relevant policy domains, such as development and humanitarian action
  • bolster humanitarian action with adequate resources to meet the growing challenge of climate change, including measures to ensure adequate assistance and protection for people on the move as a result of environmental factors.
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