News & Events

12/12/14

Climate change and migration are both highly sensitive topics in today’s political landscape. Research into both issues has reshaped our understanding of the relationship between climate change and the movement of people; however policy makers and civil society organisations have yet to build this new insight into their work. On Friday, December 12th, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UK Climate Change and Migration Coalition (UKCCMC) hosted a breakfast briefing on the links between climate change and human mobility at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue in London, as part of a series of events organised by Oxford University’s Centre on Migration Policy and Society (COMPAS).

Friday’s breakfast briefing provided an opportunity for IOM and UKCCMC to present the latest research and policy developments on the climate change-migration nexus. Speaker Dina Ionesco, Policy Officer at IOM, gave prominence to the potential of migration as a positive adaptation strategy that can be supported by policy action whilst at the same time drawing attention to the capacities needed at this policy level to respond to issue associated with human mobility in the context of climate change.

Alex Randall, Coordinator at UKCCMC, then presented the key advocacy opportunities for migrant and refugee sector organisations in the UK to contribute to the dialogue on mobility and environment. UKCCMC aims to challenge the lack of long-term strategies to support and protect people at risk of displacement linked to environmental change. Their goal is to advocate for people-centred policy responses at national and international level.

Alex Randall remarked, “There is a need for policy in this area to be shaped by civil society groups who work with and understand the needs of people who move, and grasp the nuances and controversies of carrying out advocacy on migration and displacement.”

IOM’s strategy on migration, environment and climate change was shaped through two parallel processes: on the one hand the development of operational activities at a field level in response to migrants’ needs and obligations to address them, and on the other hand work at policy, legal and research levels to conceptualize the complex linkages between migration and climate.

IOM’s priority areas in addressing climate change effects on migration have focused on improving the evidence base to develop targeted policies, and building capacities to cohere policy and practice to speak the same language. Recognizing the key role of civil society in this process, Dina Ionesco noted that “further collaboration is needed to ensure that a wide range of policy options is developed”.

Friday’s briefing was followed by a Q&A in which participants discussed the opportunities and challenges in managing environmental migration at each stage of the migration cycle to minimise forced or unmanaged migration, provide protection to those affected, and to enable migration as an adaptation strategy.

The COMPAS breakfast briefing, a monthly presentation of topical research on migration issues targeting policy makers and other research users, coincided with the close of the 20th Conference of the Parties in which IOM engaged with the UNFCCC, states and partners to bring human mobility onto the climate negotiations agenda. To listen to the podcast of the event, please click here.

To read more about the issue, IOM’s Outlook publication on Migration, Environment and Climate change can be downloaded here.

For more information, please contact Dina Ionesco at dionesco@iom.int
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