The Environmental Migration Portal Newsletter is produced as part of the "Migration, Environment and Climate Change: Evidence for Policy" (MECLEP) project, funded by the European Union, implemented by IOM. 

Environmental Migration Portal Newsletter
Knowledge Platform on People on the Move in a Changing Climate
December 2015


Migration, Environment and Climate Change (MECC) Updates 

30 November - 12 December 2015
Paris, France

Negotiations and Outcome
After two weeks of intense negotiations, delegates of 195 States on 12 December 2015 adopted the Paris Agreement in a decision described by many as historic. The legally binding agreement seeks to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases in order to halt global warming. During the conference that was accompanied by numerous side events, workshops and other activities involving almost 40,000 people representing national and local governments, civil society, the private sector, and research, environmental migration figured prominently on the agenda. Throughout the conference several side events directly addressed the topic and environmental migration appeared as a cross-cutting issue in the global negotiations. This resulted in the inclusion of migration in the Preamble of the legally binding agreement: 
"Acknowledging that climate change is a common concern of humankind, Parties should, when taking action to address climate change, respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on human rights, the right to health, the rights of indigenous peoples, local communities, migrants, children, persons with disabilities and people in vulnerable situations and the right to development, as well as gender equality, empowerment of women and intergenerational equity."  
The negotiators also integrated a reference to displacement in the Decisions to give effect to the agreement in “Loss and Damage”:
"Also requests the Executive Committee of the Warsaw International Mechanism to establish, [...] a task force to complement, draw upon the work of and involve, as appropriate, existing bodies and expert groups under the Convention including the Adaptation Committee and the Least Developed Countries Expert Group, as well as relevant organizations and expert bodies outside the Convention, to develop recommendations for integrated approaches to avert, minimize and address displacement related to the adverse impacts of climate change."
The fact that environmental migration was taken up by the delegates was also due to the effort of the Advisory Group on Climate Change and Human Mobility, composed of UNHCR, the IOM, UNU-EHS, UNDP, NRC/IDMC, Refugees International (RI), Sciences Po-CERI, and the Arab Network for Environment and Development (RAED). The work of the Advisory Group is anchored in decisions of UNFCCC Parties to enhance understanding and action in the area of climate change induced displacement, migration and planned relocation. “Human mobility” is an umbrella term that encompasses displacement of populations, migration and planned relocation.
Events on Environmental Migration

COP 21 also featured a large number of events and documents devoted to migration and climate. It is the first time that as many initiatives were targeting the human mobility dimensions of climate change.

The events provided a broad range of perspectives illustrating this thematic area through the lenses of policy makers, civil society, researchers, media, lawyers as well as artists. Social media have also been closely following the negotiations and advocating for the inclusion of strong language on migration in the climate text. Over sixty media features devoted to climate migrants were tracked by the IOM Migration, Environment and Climate Change (MECC) team.

It is the richness of these voices, insights, perspectives and evidence that contributed to maintain a high level of interest on migration in relation to climate change throughout the conference and that has definitively contributed to the inclusion of migration in the agreement. The diversity and creativity of these initiatives, as well as the commitment made by many professionals all coming with different training and expertise to attract attention to the importance of climate-induced migration deserves further visibility and support. Have a look at some of the side events dedicated to environmental migration at COP21 here:
Logo © COP21, 2015

ONE UN High Level Roundtable

10 December 2015
Paris, France

The High-Level Roundtable on Human Mobility and Climate Change, organized by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on behalf of the ONE UN, took place in Paris, Le Bourget, on the 10th of December. The side event gathered Nicolas Hulot (Special Envoy of the French President for the Protection of the Planet and President of the Nicolas Hulot Foundation), Dr. Kamal Uddin Ahmed (Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Bangladesh), Volker Turk (Assistant High Commissioner, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), Monique Barbut (Executive Secretary, United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification), Kyung-wha Kang (Assistant Secretary General, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs), Jan Egeland (Secretary General, Norwegian Refugee Council), Seb Dance (Member of the European Parliament), Dr. Youba Sokona (Vice Chair, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) , Alfredo Zamudio (Director General, The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre), Philippe Lévêque (Executive Director, CARE France) and Michelle Leighton (ILO Chief, Labour Migration Branch).

Chairing the event, IOM Director General William Lacy Swing made clear that “we face major migration and refugee movements, and climate change is among the root causes of the record number of persons forced to migrate. By taking action to harness the positive potential of migration as an adaptation strategy to climate change we can support those who might need sooner or later to migrate with dignity."  
Photo: Panelists at the ONE UN High Level Side Event © IOM, 2015

The Importance of Social Science Research for
Understanding Climate Change Induced Migration

1 December 2015
COP21 - Paris, France

In this COP21 side event organized by Lund University, Lancaster University and the University of Hamburg, key research findings from the EU Cost Action IS1101 publication ‘Climate Change and Migration’ were presented.

Speaking on the panel, Jürgen Scheffran (Hamburg University) displayed the root causes of environmental migration and pointed out that the complex interplay of migration and climate change would call for sophisticated models of analysis. Angela Oels (Lund University) analyzed the current narratives of climate change and migration and suggested an alternative discursive approach referring to “climate warriors”. Giovanni Bettini (Lancaster University) argued that, contrary to the expectations, the UNFCCC may not be an appropriate forum for deliberations on migration policy considering that environmental migrants from the global South were perceived in the North as a security threat.

François Gemenne (SciencesPo/Liège University) presented on the “anthropocene and its victims” and proposed that the term “climate refugees” could underline the need to protect those displaced by climate change as victims of political violence. Koko Warner (United Nations University) concentrated on research from the Pacific that shows how 40-70% of residents think migration is part of their future response to climate change. Diana Liverman (University of Arizona) underlined the importance of research design when looking at the nexus of migration and climate change. Finally, Andrew Baldwin (Durham University) called for concerted attention of social science and humanities scholars towards the topic.
Photo: Side Event Panelists © IISD Reporting Services, 2015
Read more

Exhibition: Entwined Destinies - Migration, Environment and Climate Change

until 17 January 2016
COP21 - Musée de l’histoire de l’immigration, Paris, France

As part of the effort to provide visibility to environmental migration during the COP21, an exhibition at the French National Museum of the History of Immigration, was organized by IOM France in collaboration with the Tropical Aquarium and the Heinrich Böll Foundation. The exhibition, entitled “Entwined Destinies: Migration, Environment and Climate Change” features photos by photo-journalist Alessandro Grassani. The works vividly display how climate change impacts lives around the globe and how environmental migration to cities becomes part of these lives. The exhibition further features maps from the forthcoming Atlas of Environmental Migration and two film screenings: the award-winning documentary “There Once Was an Island” by Briar March (2010) on relocation from the Takuu Atoll in Papua New Guinea; and “Changement d’adresse pour cause de sécheresses” by Loïc and Geoffroy de la Tullaye (2012) on rural to urban migration in Kenya due to drought and land degradation. The exhibition has already attracted more than 2000 people and, due to its success, will be extended until 17 January 2016.
Photo: Exhibition hall © IOM, 2015
More information (French)

Addressing ‘new’ root causes: urbanization, environmental degradation, food insecurity, water scarcity, natural hazards and climate change
16-17 December 2015
Geneva, Switerzland

As part of the UN High Commissioner for Refugee’s Dialogue on Protection Challenges, a two-day session, co-chaired by Walter Kälin of the Nansen Initiative and Kelly Clements, Deputy High Commissioner of UNHCR, looked at new root causes of displacement. Both co-chairs stressed the difficulties arising with these new forms of displacement, but also that through efforts made now, solutions, for example through migration as adaptation, are not far off. 

Speaking on the first panel, Jill Helke (IOM) stressed that with the Paris Agreement signed, it is now time to plan in order to tap the positive potential of migration as adaptation to climate change. She was seconded by Carlos Martin-Novella (IPCC) who pointed out that displacement will happen, even if the global community manages to reach the target of reducing global warming to 1.5°C, and that the world has to prepare. Koko Warner (UNU) showed how quickly the world has come to acknowledge environmental migration as a fact and made clear that COP21 was the turning point from awareness-raising to action. Shukri Ahmed (FAO) echoed this call for a hands-on approach and argued that food security was an important factor in migrants decision to move. Speaking in a second panel, Mr. Alfredo Zamudio (IDMC) reminded the audience of the fact that "hazards are natural, but disasters are not," and that with political will future displacement due to climate change can be minimized. Elizabeth Ferris (Brookings Institution) focused on planned relocations as a last resort. She stressed that relocation processes should be inclusive and consultative. Rezaul Karim Chowdhury (COAST) brought forward the example of Bangladesh's IDPs from coastal areas - the country is experiencing climate-induced migration on a large scale already and will have to improve its planning for the future. Finally, Jane McAdam (University of New South Wales) underlined the importance of integrating migration as an option of adaptation into planning. She stressed the overall tenor of both panels: “If we fail to plan, we plan to fail.”
Photo: Panelists Panel 1 © IOM, 2015

IOM/UNAOC PLURAL+ Youth Video Festival
3 December 2015
New York / Paris

Youth filmmakers from across the world connected by Skype for an exchange during the IOM/UNAOC PLURAL+ Youth Video Festival and the UN Climate Change Conference/COP21 in Paris. The two winners of the COP21 Youth Climate Video Competition – Saraswati Upadhaya of Nepal and Charles Batte of Uganda – joined from Paris, via Skype connection, more than 15 PLURAL+ 2015 youth media makers in New York City, hailing from countries including Afghanistan, Austria, Canada, Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan, the Philippines, United Kingdom and the United States. Structured on empowering youth voices through media to mobilize social change, the dialogue focused on climate, community action, diversity and migration through the youth film lens. In sharing inspirations behind their winning films, participating youth spoke to the advantages of first-person youth media narratives driving global conversations on the issues. The exchange served as an energizing collaboration on ideas for youth as leaders in cross-cultural dialogue, community building and sustainable development.
Photo  © Christopher Richter, IOM, 2015

Launch of the Atlas of Environmental Migration
5 December 2015
COP21 - Paris, France

The Atlas of Environmental Migration was officially launched in the presence of high-level officials. The launch was conducted within the framework of an exhibition on environmental migration IOM organized at the French National Museum for the History of Immigration, called "Entwined destinies: Migration, Environment and Climate Change". Building on existing knowledge, data and case studies produced over the years by IOM, other international organizations, academia and researchers worldwide, the project will result in the first Atlas of Environmental Migration, an innovative tool providing a visual overview of this trend of human migration through maps, illustrations and explanatory texts prepared under the supervision of world experts in this field.
Image © IOM, 2015
More information here

MECLEP Updates

Environmental Migration Portal Updates

MECLEP Country Profiles now online

As of now, the Environmental Migration Portal features country profiles on each of the six MECLEP project countries. The profiles on the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Kenya, Mauritius, Papua New Guinea and Viet Nam allow for a fast overview on topics related to environmental migration. Next to a section on basic facts on the respective country and an overview of migration patterns, one finds information on the environment and its recent changes as well as a list of adaptation policies that are encated. The country profiles can serve as brief guide to the most relevant information, but also the contact information and a list of references provided make it a perfect point of departure for more intense research.
Screenshot © IOM, 2015

Media Highlight

MECC Policy Brief Series - Issue 7

By Allen Cordero Ulate and Guillermo Lathrop

Migration flows have always characterized the history of the Dominican Republic. Internal migration is a significant phenomenon within the country. Moreover, the Dominican Republic is one of most vulnerable countries to climate change. Nevertheless, the relationship between climate change and/or environmental degradation and internal migration is understudied and often not taken into consideration.

In this Policy Brief, Allen Cordero Ulate and Guillermo Lathrop propose a set of policies to address environmental migration in the framework of the Proposal for the National Development Strategy 2010-2030. Among other points, the authors emphasize the need for recognizing the inequalities existing among the population, strengthening territorial coordination bodies with the participation of the civil society and promoting territorial rural development and sustainable agriculture.
Policy Brief Series Issue 7 is in Spanish.


MECC Policy Brief Series - Issue 8

By Andrea Milan, Susanne Melde, Noemi Cascone, Markus Schindler and Koko Warner

Building on the main results of the MECLEP case study in Haiti, this policy brief explores how different forms of human mobility relate to household vulnerability in three Haitian municipalities (La Marmelade, Les Gonaïves and Port-au-Prince). Recurrent (including seasonal) migration seems to be associated with the lowest levels of household vulnerability.

The authors recommend policies aimed at fostering the potential of migration as part of positive adaptation strategies, while also preventing and reducing displacement risks. Besides Haiti’s migration policy (currently under discussion), migration and its relationship with household vulnerability is interconnected with several policy areas that would benefit from mainstreaming migration.

MECC Policy Brief Series - Issue 9

By Susanne Melde

In light of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris at the end of 2015, this policy brief highlights why human mobility should be included in the discussions on adaptation. Migration, in the context of environmental degradation and climate change, is already a reality today, particularly within countries, and not a future scenario. This is illustrated with findings from six countries (Dominican Republic, Haiti, Kenya, Mauritius, Papua New Guinea and Viet Nam). Data from Haiti shows that, in particular, both internal and international circular migration is a beneficial adaptation strategy to climate change and disasters.

Yet environmental stress is disproportionately affecting the poorest, who are most likely to be displaced and in need of relocation. Thus, policies should aim at reducing the risk for disasters and increasing resilience of those who cannot move and include the contributions of migrants as recognized in the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030.

MECC Policy Brief Series - Issue 10

By Jeanette Schade, Christopher McDowell, Elizabeth Ferris, Kerstin Schmidt, Giovanni Bettini, Carsten Felgentreff, François Gemenne, Arjun Patel, Jane Rovins, Robert Stojanov, Zakia Sultana and Angus Wright

This policy brief is the result of an interdisciplinary research workshop with academics and practitioners, held at Bielefeld University, Germany in November 2014, in cooperation with COST Action IS1011 on Climate Change and Migration. The Bielefeld Consultation identified the need to raise awareness of the challenges of planned relocation, as an adaptive strategy to climate change or as a consequence of climate policies. Acknowledging the risks and failures of planned relocation, the Consultation suggests principals and precautionary measures to ensure climate justice. And as a result of the Consultation, non-conclusive list of minimum standards for planned relocation are put forward for the consideration of policymakers and practitioners engaged in climate change adaptation and mitigation.

MECC Policy Brief Series - Issue 11

By Sanjeev K. Sobhee and Julia Blocher

The Republic of Mauritius is at the forefront of climate change. The country experiences tropical cyclones, flash floods, droughts and sea-level rise that threaten the land and livelihood of the country’s most vulnerable populations. This policy brief summarizes the current situation of migration, environment and climate change in Mauritius and the country’s policies addressing environmental migration. It recommends the following: (a) Mauritius should take action towards developing the full potential of migration as a positive adaptation strategy to climate change (such as through diaspora cooperation); (b) concretize meaningful actions to build resilience of local communities; and (c) further cooperate with international and regional partners to achieve effective and comprehensive policies on human mobility and climate change.

Research Database Updates

Environmental Change, Adaptation and Migration - Bringing in the Region
Unless We Act Now: The Impact of Climate Change on Children
Human rights, climate change and cross-border displacement: the role of the international human rights community in contributing to effective and just solutions
Environmental Migration and Social Inequality
Power, People, Planet: Seizing Africa's Energy and Climate Opportunities (Africa Progress Report 2015)
Ethiopian Panel on Climate Change: First Assessment Report - Health and Settlement
The Human Cost of Weather Related Disasters 1995-2015
Climate Change and Human Rights
“There is No Time Left” Climate Change, Environmental Threats, and Human Rights in Turkana County, Kenya
Search the database

Upcoming Events

Exhibition: Entwined Destinies - Migration, Environment and Climate Change
until 17 January 2016

Musée de l’histoire de l’immigration, Paris, France

Conference: Understanding and Tackling the Migration Challenge: The Role of Research
4-5 February 2016 

Brussels, Belgium

High-Level Thematic Debate on SDG Implementation and Climate Change
10-12 April 2016 

New York, USA

World Humanitarian Summit
23-24 May 2016 

Istanbul, Turkey
Read more
To share your research, publication, event, videos and more on the Environmental Migration Portal, contact  
This newsletter has been produced with the assistance of the European Union. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of IOM and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union or of IOM.

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