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Climate change and displacement

In response to growing climate change pressures on landscapes and livelihoods, people are moving and adapting. Evidence points towards climate and environmentally induced migration becoming one of the major policy challenges of this century. This review, made of 31 articles, analyses a range of climate and migration related issues which focus on case studies in Central Asia, Kenya, Kiribati, Ghana, Alaska and Bangladesh, among others.Some of the topics discussed include:

  • the definition of environmental migration
  • human rights implications of climate change impacts
  • community-led adaptation
  • rural-urban migration
  • legal frameworks, governance issues and changing climate policies
  • evacuation, relocation, and adaptation: focus on island states

The main recommendations noted include:

  • both humanitarian and development assistance are clearly needed but as most of the burden falls on least developed countries, ownership at national level is essential
  • raise policy and public awareness: there is a need for concerted action to address the challenges and realise the opportunities presented by the climate change, environmental degradation and migration nexus
  • the need for a definition is a crucial step in the conceptualisation of environmental migration, and the development of policy responses to address these flows
  • there is a need to build a strong scientific basis: research is required to accurately identify, measure and characterise environmentally induced migrants. More detailed and nuanced case studies of how, why and where people migrate to needs to be undertaken
  • institutions and policies must be strengthened so that they can appropriately manage migration linked to environmental change
  • develop adequate international institutional frameworks: nations and UNHCR need to systematically examine the implications of incorporating human rights issues related to climate change into both their legal mandate and their day-to-day operations
  • invest in improved hazard and vulnerability analysis and mapping systems to better assess risks arising from climate change