Ocean, environment, climate change and human mobility

Ocean, environment, climate change and human mobility

The ocean is a crucial component of a series of natural equilibria that enable life on our planet. The importance of the ocean in climate regulation places it at the heart of climate change economic and social issues, and namely environmental migration-related issues. While the ocean limits global warming, it is also affected by the latter. It changes when it is hotter, more acidic and less oxygenated. The ocean’s regulation role and the ecosystem services it provides are threatened. The planet and populations’ capacity to absorb climate impacts and their modes of adaptation to disequilibrium are affected.

Climate change-related modifications that affect the global ocean have direct consequences on island and coastal populations, but their repercussions go beyond these regions; the environment, economy and livelihoods of many communities worldwide are likely to be affected.

How can these challenges be addressed? Marine ecosystem deterioration and forced population displacement scenarios can be anticipated. A more sustainable management of natural marine resources, implementation of ecosystem protection and restoration projects, disaster risk reduction initiatives, climate change adaptation policies, creation of alternative jobs, or even planned and facilitated migration, could contribute to reducing the vulnerability of natural habitats and communities that depend upon them.

  • sustainable management of ecosystem services and resources - the importance of marine ecosystems for human populations is measured in terms of services and resources. They are crucial for mitigation policies (actions to reduce greenhouse effect) as they absorb CO2, and for climate change adaptation policies. Conservation, restoration and sustainable management of these ecosystems, including relying on indigenous know-how, can contribute to protecting the communities who depend upon them, reinforce their livelihoods and prevent forced migration
  • conservation, restoration and ecosystem services - Seagrass beds, coastal wetlands, mangroves and coral reefs act as carbon sinks. They also play a role in coastal conservation by forming a buffer zone with the sea; they absorb approximately 75 to 90 per cent of waves and swell and reduce considerably their erosion power. Finally, these ecosystems are a source of food and materials, and generate economic activity. Conservation, sustainable management and restoration of these ecosystems participate in combating climate threats and poverty. The development of marine protected areas could allow biodiversity conservation while preserving traditional livelihood activities by relying on local populations’ know-how and governance systems
  • providing support to vulnerable populations Evidently, when facing the risk of extreme events, risk management policies and programmes must be reinforced. They must also consider the needs of the most vulnerable populations, in order to better plan and manage forced population displacement (for instance, displacement following floods or extreme storms). Preparing populations to coastal risks by developing training programmes and awareness campaigns appears to be a priority to help these populations to better address these disasters, better adapt to climate change and better manage resources (such as water and food)

The increasing acknowledgment of the links between ocean and marine ecosystems, climate change and human mobility encouraged the IOM and the Ocean and Climate Platform (OCP) to combine their efforts in order to address this growing challenge.

This innovative partnership focuses on three key areas of collaboration: (a) improving the understanding and awareness of the interactions between these three phenomena; (b) undertaking joint advocacy in key policy processes at the international, regional and national levels; and (c) developing new solutions, building capacity and supporting the implementation of projects and programmes at the regional, national and local levels, in order to address key issues around ocean and marine ecosystem change, climate change and migration and provide solutions for vulnerable communities.

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