Migration, Environment and Climate Change (MECC) Updates
A message from Dina Ionesco, Head of the Migration, Environment and Climate Change Division at the International Organization for Migration (IOM):
As we look back at 2020 and welcome 2021, the IOM Migration, Environment and Climate Change (MECC) Team would like to warmly thank you for contributing to, reading and disseminating our Environmental Migration Newsletter.
Over the past year, human mobility patterns around the world have been affected in ways that many recent generations have never yet experienced. For those usually fortunate enough to be able to cross borders with a passport and a flight ticket, lacking the freedom to move is an unprecedented restriction.
But maybe these limitations can help all of us better understand the people who do not have the freedom to move – pandemic or not.
The current context should also remind us that migration has always been part of humankind’s history. More than ever, IOM’s vision to limit the forced, negative and tragic forms of migration and to facilitate dignified, regular and responsible migration is meaningful.
We are witnessing once again how much global challenges are interconnected: the intersection of poverty, restricted access to health services, negative impacts of climate change and threats to human security is making life more difficult to millions of people on the move in a changing climate.
Experiences of the last year can also help us think in a more coherent way about the linkages between migration, environment, climate change and health. We launched in 2020 The COVID-19 Pandemic, Migration and the Environment Blog series. The articles we published propose innovative ideas for thinking and acting differently. They shed light on various environmental migration dimensions of the current health crisis: increased vulnerability of migrants and internally displaced persons during the pandemic, implications for planned relocation, the need to review our current climate adaption strategies, the impacts of border closures, the specific situation of small island states, or the right to safe water. In this series, we also try to understand how environmental dimensions can be integrated in COVID-19 recovery efforts. Our bigger ambition is to eventually support the development of tailored programmes that respond to the needs on the ground.
Over the past months many of our usual exchanges have moved from in person to virtual formats, but our Newsletter happily celebrates five years of virtual services and the dissemination of regular updates on our activities and those of our network of partners and community of practice. We have also revamped our IOM Environmental Migration Portal - we hope you will find its enhanced features useful.
My thanks go to our editing team and all the partners and colleagues who contribute to this Newsletter.
I wish you all a positive, mobile and happy new year!
Commemoration Event of the 5th Anniversary of the Endorsement of
the Nansen Initiative Protection Agenda, the Adoption of
the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, and
the Paris Agreement under the UNFCCC
4th of February 2021
Signature of the Memorandum of Understanding by
the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and
the Platform on Disaster Displacement (PDD)
by Alice Baillat, IOM MECC HQ
On 9 December 2020, IOM signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Platform on Disaster Displacement (PDD), represented by the Government of France and the Government of Fiji, as respective Chair and Vice-chair of the PDD. Strengthening the institutional arrangements for coordination and collaboration between IOM, PDD and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was a priority of the French Chairmanship of the PDD. IOM welcomes the signature of this MoU with PDD and of a similar MoU between UNHCR and PDD, signed the same day. The signature event gathered Antonio Vitorino, IOM Director General, Ambassador Francois Rivasseau, Permanent Representative of the Government of France to the United Nations in Geneva, Ambassador Nazhat Shameem Khan, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Fiji to the United Nations in Geneva, Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, with respect of the existing sanitary measures.
PDD is a state-led initiative established in 2016 as the follow-up of the Nansen Initiative (2012-2015), to support States and other stakeholders to strengthen the protection of persons displaced in the context of disasters and the adverse effects of climate change, and to prevent or reduce disaster displacement risks, through the implementation of the Nansen Initiative Protection Agenda. IOM provided active support from the beginning of the Nansen Initiative and is a key partner and Standing Invitee to the PDD’s Steering Group, along with the UNHCR. IOM is committed to supporting PDD’s strategic priorities and the implementation of the Nansen Initiative Protection Agenda, which are directly in line with IOM’s longstanding work on migration, environment and climate change.
This MoU reinforces the partnership and collaboration between IOM and PDD at the global, regional and national levels, in order to support States and other stakeholders in addressing the challenges of human mobility in the context of disasters, climate change and environmental degradation. The MoU provides a general framework of cooperation between IOM and PDD, in particular to address the four strategic priorities identified by the PDD Steering Group and reflected in the PDD Strategy and Workplan 2019-2022: support integrated implementation of global policy frameworks on human mobility, climate change action and disaster risk reduction that are relevant for disaster displaced persons; promote policy and normative developments to address protection gaps; facilitate exchange of knowledge and strengthen capacity at the national and regional levels to implement effective practices and instruments that can prevent, reduce and address disaster displacement; and strengthen evidence and data on human mobility in the context of disasters and the adverse effects of climate change.
Climate Change and Security: Sharing Experiences on the Challenge of Internal Displacement in Small Island Developing States
by Sabira Coelho, IOM Suva
On 12 November the IOM-led joint-agency (IOM, OHCHR, ILO and ESCAP) programme on Pacific Climate Change Migration and Human Security (PCCMHS) was presented at the webinar on “Climate Change and Security: Sharing experiences on the challenge of internal displacement in Small Island Developing States.” The webinar was arranged by the Pacific Island Forum (PIF), DPPA and OHRLLS. In their introductory remarks the USG/High Representative for the LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS as well as the Permanent Representative (PR) of Tuvalu to the UN and Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, noted that planned relocation is part of the region’s foreseeable future and must be carefully managed, while at the same time efforts should be made to empower and protect migrants and communities affected by climate change and disasters. In particular, the PR of Tuvalu underlined the important role of the work of the Pacific Resilience Partnership Technical Working Group on Human Mobility, co-chaired by IOM. In addition to the recognition for IOM’s work on climate change and displacement, the forum also provided a good opportunity to highlight IOM’s support to the Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
Preparatory Meeting for the Validation of the IGAD Protocol on Transhumance Roadmap Kicks off in Entebbe, Uganda
by Lisa Lim Ah Ken, IOM Nairobi
Pastoral and agropastoral communities practice an ancient form of livelihood and associated lifestyle in the arid and semi-arid lands (ASAL) of the world - one of the only successful forms of livelihoods in the ASALs. Pastoralism demonstrates the adaptive nature of migration in response to climate and environmental changes. However in the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) region, climate change in addition to other political and socio-economic challenges, is adversely impacting on this traditional form of livelihoods, which contributes to 57 per cent of agricultural gross domestic product (AGDP) and supports 70 per cent of pastoral population.
To safeguard pastoralists’ access to the necessary rangelands and water sources, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Centre for Pastoral Areas and Livestock Development (ICPALD) finalised their Implementation Roadmap for the IGAD Protocol on Transhumance, at a High Level Experts meeting in Uganda on 12 November and endorsed it at a Ministerial Meeting on 13 November. IOM contributed to both meetings and has held initial discussions with ICPALD on the UN engagement to support the implementation of this important protocol.
Evidence vs Myth – Understanding Displacement in a Changing Climate with António Vitorino, IOM Director General
USA for IOM Webinar Enables High-level Discussions on the Need for Action on Climate and Human Mobility
by Pablo Escribano, IOM San José
Organized by USA for IOM, the nonprofit partner of IOM, a high-level virtual panel discussion was organized on 9 December 2020 to discuss priorities on the climate and human mobility nexus with a focus on Central America and the Caribbean. The meeting was chaired by Luca Dall'Oglio, Chief Executive Officer at USA for IOM, and moderated by Tolu Olubunmi, USA for IOM Board Member. It included opening statements from Ovais Sarmad, Deputy Executive Secretary at UNFCCC, and Michele Klein Solomon, IOM Regional Director for Central America, North America and the Caribbean, which showcased the value of the UNFCCC-IOM partnership in addressing the human mobility implications of climate change.
The webinar facilitated the engagement of private sector and philanthropic actors. Representatives from the World Resource Institute and Rihanna’s Clara Lionel Foundation discussed their initiatives related to climate adaptation and resilience in Central America and the Caribbean. Pivotal sectors, such as the coffee industry in Costa Rica or education in Caribbean countries, appear as key areas of intervention to limit the adverse drivers of forced migration.
Finally, the webinar closed with the presentation of a joint assessment undertaken by IOM and UN Environment to look at the state of the evidence of the migration-environment nexus in countries of Central America and Mexico. This assessment puts into perspective the existence of different forms of human mobility derived from multiple slow and sudden onset hazards and the often-understudied impact of migration itself and related humanitarian interventions in the environment. Priorities emerged in terms of research, capacity building and policymaking to address existing gaps, for which IOM and UN Environment are mobilizing resources.
Migration Professionals of Latin America Trained on the Challenges of Addressing Migration, Environment and Climate Change Issues
by Pablo Escribano, IOM San José
In November and December 2020, IOM organized the XLII edition of its Interamerican Course on International Migration, which has taken place with no interruptions for the last 42 years. This year has however been the first time that the course has been delivered in a virtual manner, with content provided by a series of experts and posted on a dedicated site to be consulted by the 34 registered participants from 13 countries.
As part of the curriculum, IOM and the Platform on Disaster Displacement (PDD) have partnered to develop a module and accompanying material on the relationship between migration, disasters and climate change. The session looked at important issues that migration practitioners need to consider as the impacts of environmental drivers become more prominent in human mobility.
The Interamerican Course on International Migration has evolved over the years to integrate emerging areas of migration practice. The migration, environment and climate change nexus has been part of the curriculum for the last years, as professionals throughout the region are bound to tackle in their duties the flows that are driven by environmental change in the region.
International Virtual Workshop: “Paving the Way to Climate Justice”
by Andrea Milan and Adriana Vides Lobos, IOM GMDAC
On December 11, 2020, Andrea Milan (IOM GMDAC) joined a panel of experts in an online workshop called “Paving the Way to Climate Justice.” The virtual event, organized by Constructify Media, brought together around 100 participants from 25 countries to discuss a number of issues related to climate justice, including human mobility. The panel of speakers included representatives from Constructify Media, the University of KwaZulu-Natal, the Environmental Management Centre LLP and the Green Finance Institute.
Let`s Talk Migration - Migration & Climate Change
with Florian Braendli, IOM Ghana
Adaptation Futures Webinar:
Climate Change Adaptation and Migration
by Andrea Milan and Adriana Vides Lobos, IOM GMDAC
On December 10, 2020, Andrea Milan (IOM GMDAC) joined a panel discussion on “Climate Change Adaptation and Migration” with representatives from UNHCR, IDMC and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). The webinar focused on the circumstances under which migration can support adaptation to climate change, the challenges to adaptation and how vulnerable groups can be effectively protected and implications to policy research. This event was part of a webinar series organized as precursor to the “International Climate Change Adaptation Conference”.
The COVID-19 Pandemic, Migration and the Environment
IOM Blog Series
The COVID-19 pandemic is having profound, widespread impacts on migrants, refugees and displaced persons, as well as on migration patterns at local and global level. Its implications for the different facets of the migration and environment nexus are also significant, and very diverse. People evacuating and displaced as a consequence of disasters are facing specific challenges respecting physical distancing and practicing other infection prevention measures. Migrants forced to return towards their home countries and locations might put additional pressures on already fragile ecosystems and livelihoods. Families and communities that were relying on migration as an adaptation or coping strategy have little options to send out their members or have stopped receiving remittances.
In order to explore the theoretical and practical implications of these dynamics on migration and the environment all over the world, IOM is hosting a series of contributions by practitioners and researchers. This series provides a forum for the environment and migration community to share experiences, knowledge, ideas and recommendations on the linkages between the COVID-19 pandemic and disaster displacement, environmental migration, and the environmental impacts of people’s different movement decisions. This series includes contributions by authors with different disciplinary and professional backgrounds and on all regions of the world, aiming to provide a snapshot of the diversity and complexity of these implications.
Latest articles in the IOM Blog Series on "The COVID-19 Pandemic, Migration and the Environment":