IOM Outlook on Migration, Environment and Climate Change

from International Organization for Migration
Published on 25 Nov 2014 View Original


The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has four key messages for effective action on the topic of human mobility in the context of environmental and climatic changes:

1 Environmental and climate-induced migration is a multicausal and multidimensional phenomenon.

-ƒ Environmental and climatic factors are both drivers and pull factors, and they are mediated by economic, social, political and demographic aspects. All these different dimensions together define a community and an individual’s resilience and vulnerability. ƒ

  • The migration, environment and climate change nexus poses a “double sensitivity challenge”. Climate negotiations are politically delicate, even more so when questions of environmental migration are being examined. Migration is also a highly complex topic and sensitivities regarding inter-State collaboration on migration are persistent.

2 Talking of migration in the context of climate change means giving a human face to the climate change debate. ƒ

  • More emphasis needs to be placed on the migrants themselves, their families and the communities, understanding their strategies and what mobility options are available to them. ƒ

  • Policymakers also need to be empowered at the national, local, or regional and international levels to be able to address the complex nexus of migration, environment and climate.

3 Human mobility can be read as a barometer of both resilience and vulnerability. ƒ

  • Mobility strategies of migrants are not inherently “positive” or “negative”. ƒ

  • Mobility can save lives, enhance resilience and reduce risk – and it can also make people vulnerable and expose them to new risks.

ƒ- Not being able to move out of affected areas can also be a greater sign of vulnerability, as trapped populations often have fewer options to cope with environmental threats.

4 Migration is an adaptation option that can be supported by policy action. ƒ

  • History provides us with many examples of individuals and communities using migration to adapt to changing environmental conditions. In some contexts, migration can constitute an important and positive adaptation strategy” that can be supported by policy action. ƒ

  • It is key to develop the evidence base on how migration contributes to adaptation in the current context and how it could contribute to addressing future environmental change. ƒ

  • Ensuring that the contributions of migrants and diasporas – such as remittances, knowledge and investments – can serve adaptation purposes is critical.

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