The release of this issue of the IOM’s Environmental Migration Newsletter has been delayed as we are all grappling with the immense consequences of the current COVID-19 situation. The IOM Migration, Environment and Climate Change team sends our best wishes to you and your families, friends and teams in these difficult times. We also extend our deep thanks to frontline workers, in this time of great uncertainty, both within IOM and outside.
The immense impact of COVID-19 on migration has been a shock to many of us, and we now live in a world where the mobility of people within and across borders is greatly reduced – at least temporarily – to an unprecedented extent. This disturbing and unexpected situation reminds us how much migration is – and has historically been – an essential foundation of our societies.
Much of the readership of this newsletter is comprised of people who work in international affairs, travel regularly internationally for professional reasons and are part of multinational teams. We are now forced into immobility – or at least limited mobility. For many of us, it might be the first time in our lives that we experience a limitation to our freedom of movement. From our place of privilege, this might also give us a better understanding of why people have taken throughout history the decision to leave their homes and communities to seek more freedom, including the freedom to move.
IOM has continued to respond to the needs of communities and states in the context of the pandemic, and I would like to highlight some dimensions of IOM’s overall response to the COVID-19 crisis. Two of IOM’s main portfolios of work are migration health and crisis response. The Organisation therefore, leverages its extensive expertise in these areas to support national health systems that may need additional financial, technical or operational resources to respond to the current health crisis from a mobility perspective, and prepare for the ripple impacts.
Integrating Human Mobility in Disaster Risk Reduction
and Climate Change Adaptation:
A New Capacity Assessment Tool for Governments
24 February 2020, Geneva, Switzerland
by Lorenzo Guadagno, IOM MECC HQ
IOM launched an inter-agency process to develop a capacity assessment tool on integrating human mobility in disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. The tool will help national and local-level governments evaluate how adequate their institutions, frameworks, resources and skills are to address human mobility issues in their policies and programming related to disasters, and environmental and climate change (including migration, evacuations and displacement, and planned relocations). The tool will also be integrated in the comprehensive assessment package currently being revised by the Secretariat of the CADRI Partnership and is expected that it will be rolled out as part of the CADRI’s inter-agency assessment missions.
The kick-off meeting was attended by UN and non-UN partners, including UNHCR, PDD, NRC, IFRC and the CADRI Secretariat, who will be consulted throughout the process in order to provide inputs on existing and potential approaches, on the tool’s content, as well as needs and opportunities for its use. IOM expects to develop the tool over the next 6 months and plans to also support capacity building and piloting activities in selected regions before the end of 2020. The process is supported by the donors contributing to IOM’s Migration Resource Allocation Committee (MIRAC).
Identifying Climate Adaptive Solutions to Displacement in Somalia
14 February 2020, Mogadishu, Somalia
by Lana Goral, IOM Somalia
IOM Somalia’s MECC unit conducted an inception meeting for the project ‘Identifying Climate Adaptive Solutions to Displacement in Somalia’, funded by the IOM Development Fund. The objective of the project, which is implemented by IOM Somalia in collaboration with UN Environment, the Danwadaag Durable Solutions Consortium and the Federal Government of Somalia, is to enhance the evidence base on linkages between environmental degradation and displacement in Somalia. The research aims to identify policies for long-term resolution of displacement in urban settings and increased resilience to climate change.
The inception meeting provided an opportunity for durable solutions partners, including the UN, international NGOs, as well as Somali civil society, to comment on the methodology of the assessment, which will include a field survey in three rural and three urban areas of Somalia.
On 11th December 2019, the European Commission presented the European Green Deal: Europe’s “man on the moon moment” for adapting to the effects of climate change. It is an integral part of the new Commission’s strategy to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is based on the principles enshrined in the Agenda, which link economic growth with social development and environmental sustainability.
There is a clear recognition in global frameworks of the links between migration, climate change, and sustainable development, as well as the global mobility consequences of climate change. Europe will not be immune from such consequences, as IOM’s Dina Ionesco highlights, that we urgently need to face the fact that climate migration “...is a reality in Europe, not something that will happen in centuries.” Nevertheless, migration and displacement do not feature significantly in the Communication on the Green Deal.
One of IOM’s first public recommendations on the Green Deal was in its Recommendations to the Croatian Presidency (January – June 2020). Emphasizing the particular importance of integrating migration into efforts taken within the parameters of the Green Deal’s Just Transition Mechanism, IOM highlighted the implications that transitioning to a low-carbon and sustainable economy can have on migrants and migration. The Just Transition Mechanism aims to support the most affected regions, industries and workers with financial and social assistance.
Additional measures under the European Green Deal have recently been unveiled (such as the Climate Law and Climate Pact, the Circular Economy Action Plan, the EU Industrial Strategy and the Just Transition Fund) and others will be issued in the coming months. It will be critical that all measures related to the Deal take due consideration of the nexus of migration and climate change. Whether it will be the importance of displacement preparedness, establishing monitoring mechanisms for environmental migration, ensuring that the just transition covers migrant workers in the agriculture and mining sectors, or the recognition that well-managed migration can be an adaptation mechanisms for vulnerable communities, IOM will continue to engage and provide analysis in these areas.
Policy Dialogue on Environmental Migration in Viet Nam
14 February 2020, Buon Ma Thuot, Viet Nam
by Dang Hoang Nhat and Nadège Giroux, IOM Viet Nam
As part of IOM’s ongoing project in Viet Nam on the effects of climate change and environmental degradation on migration, IOM Viet Nam held a dialogue with policy makers and practitioners in Dak Lak’s capital - a Southern Central province - to discuss the findings of a study conducted on vulnerabilities to climate change and environmental degradation and gender in Dak Lak.
Based on the manifold data on migration patterns, access to land and housing status of over 600 selected local respondents of diverse demography, the survey sought to shed light on the impacts of environmental degradation and climate change on migration patterns. The research also aimed to analyze how men and women experienced differently the impacts of climate change, their adaptive capacities, and support required for those that migrate as well as those who stay behind.
The study results highlighted that a slightly higher number of young and middle-aged women compared to men were seasonally migrating to big cities for job opportunities. This is in part due to higher weather unpredictability rendering cultivation – the main source of livelihoods – even more arduous, leading to men staying in the area to work longer hours and dedicating more efforts for the same results. Droughts, heatwaves and erratic heavy rainfall have also caused heavy crop losses and lower harvest quality, pushing local farmers into indebtedness and to work further away from home to make ends meet.
During the policy dialogue, local authorities also shared their work on building local resilience and the government’s responses to environmental issues. Representatives of Dak Lak provincial authorities acknowledged the survey results as a highly valuable reference source for the province’s policy making.
The study results will be published later this year, and are a key component of the IDF-funded project “Building Resilience of Communities Affected by Climate Change and Environmental Degradation” implemented in Dak Lak and Phu Yen – two provinces heavily affected by increasing disasters and the impacts of climate change.
Preventing Forced Migration and Adapting to a Changing Climate
Carlon is a student in the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) who knows that climate change is threatening the future of his country. RMI is made up of several atolls and islands, with a total of 70 square miles of land and 750,000 square miles of ocean and a population of approximately 53.000. More frequent and stronger high tides, and prolonged droughts, are already changing the social fabric in which Carlon is growing up. He joins those raising their voices to advocate for climate action to prevent forced migration.
As we enter the “Decade of Action”, working together is essential to minimize forced migration and to achieve the SDGs by 2030. Aligning with target 13.3 of the SDGs which calls for improved education, awareness-raising, human and institutional capacity to address climate change mitigation, adaptation, and early warning, the video focuses on an IOM project called “Climate Adaptation, Disaster Risk Reduction, & Education (CADRE)” that aimed to increase awareness in the Pacific about the effects and responses to climate change.
Regional Consultative Processes from the Americas Present Their Best Practices for the Protection of Persons Displaced by Disasters and Climate Change
21 January 2020, Quito, Ecuador
by Pablo Escribano, IOM San José
Under the presidency of Ecuador, the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) devoted a side event to “Humanitarian Protection, Admission and Stay in Disaster and Climate Change Contexts: Effective Practices in the Americas and Beyond”. The meeting looked at experiences in the protection of persons displaced across borders due to disasters and climate change.
Representatives from the Regional Conference on Migration (RCM), which gathers countries from Central and North America, and the South American Conference on Migration (SACM), presented their respective guidelines developed (RCM Guidelines and SACM Guidelines) to provide a set of non-bindings recommendations to countries that can help them in enhancing their internal mechanisms. From the Montserrat Eruption in 1994, to the Haitian Earthquake of 2010 and the Caribbean Hurricane Season of 2017, countries in the Americas have experienced international displacement linked with disasters and have developed relevant approaches to meet the needs of displaced persons.
Civil Society Organizations and International Partners Discuss Environmental Migration in Nicaragua
6 February 2020, Managua, Nicaragua
by Pablo Escribano, IOM San José
In order to launch a discussion around the nexus between migration, environment and climate change in Nicaragua, IOM gathered experts, international partners and representatives of civil society organizations for a dialogue in Managua. The event enabled discussions around existing vulnerabilities in various areas of the country to the impacts of climate change, especially rural communities in the Dry Corridor and coastal regions of the Caribbean.
Participants identified relevant actors, strategies and priorities to address environmental migration in Nicaragua. While human mobility appeared as a traditional strategy in Nicaragua to cope with hazards and adapt to the degradation of rural livelihoods, participants also highlighted the lack of reliable data and evidence of environmental migration trajectories and patterns. Actions have been mostly focused on vulnerable communities, with less emphasis put on the areas of destination of environmental migrants, both in Nicaraguan cities and abroad. The meeting launched a discussion with relevant actors that will be pursued in the coming months.
Mobility and Climate Change at the
2020 International Forum for Migration Statistics (IFMS)
19 January 2020, Cairo, Egypt
by Lucia Gonzalez Ramos and Susanne Melde, IOM GMDAC Berlin
During the parallel session on "Climate Change and Human Mobility: Data for a Difficult Subject", at the second edition of the IFMS, representatives from IOM, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Flowminder Foundation, UNHCR, IDMC and the Climate Change Adaptation Mitigation Experiment & Training discussed the state-of-the-art of mobility data when thinking about and implementing policies related to environmental and climate change.
The discussion highlighted the advances and ethical limitations of using cell phone and other big data, the need for looking at different scales of movement, including at the local level, disaggregation of data by age and sex, communicating limitations of data collection to policymakers and data users, as well as bringing human beings at the centre of discussions.