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Facing the challenge of environmental migration in Asia and the Pacific

Migration driven by environmental factors is emerging as a serious concern, one that demands urgent attention from decision makers. The current paper addresses this issue in the context of the Asian and Pacific countries.

The paper highlights that Asia and Pacific region is expected to be one of the global regions most severely affected by climate change. However, climate change will not necessarily create a distinct category of migrant, but rather can be expected to interplay with other drivers of migration. Therefore, climate-induced migration should be addressed in the broader context of migration more generally, and as part of the development agenda.

Conclusions are as follows:

  • with timely policies and investments, migration can be used as a tool of climate change adaptation, but appropriate policies and programs need to be formulated and put into operation
  • a key priority is to strengthen the resilience of communities to make migration an informed choice rather than an act of desperation
  • governmental tools to boost community resilience include social protection, comprising labour market measures and social safety net programs, and the disaster risk management
  • urban planning should include incentives for people to settle in less vulnerable areas, and portable social benefits for incoming migrants
  • the particular vulnerabilities of women must be taken into consideration when designing policies and program
  • although most climate-induced migration will be internal, international cooperation will be essential to effectively address cross-border migration

Policy recommendations made:

  • invest in the knowledge base on the likely impacts of climate change on human mobility
  • lower information, financial, and regulatory barriers to emigration, and expand international labour migration opportunities through bilateral accords that provide worker protections
  • in cases where communities must relocate, draw on good international practice in resettlement, involving communities in the decision making