A snapshot of least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing states

Climate change and its impacts are experienced worldwide, reshaping irrevocably migration patterns on all continents. Examples of migration occurring in a changing climate are numerous[…] Some people migrate to seek better opportunities, reacting to climate change impacts on their livelihoods, their health or their food security. Other people, sometimes entire communities, are displaced involuntarily, as they flee the destruction of sudden-onset disasters and extreme weather events, often amplified by climate change. In 2017, 18.8 million people were newly displaced in the context of sudden-onset disasters within their own countries, and between 2008 and 2017, an average of 24.6 million people were displaced per year (Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), 2018).”

Since its introduction, the IOM (International Organization for Migration) report CLIMATE CHANGE AND MIGRATION IN VULNERABLE COUNTRIES has been very clear in identifying a number of connections between forced migration and climate change. It is no longer possible to divide the analyses of the two phenomena.

The list of recommendations emerging from the report is detailed and helps to grasp the urgency of taking immediate actions:

1 – Acknowledge that climate change is a driver of migration, displacement and planned relocation, and that human mobility can in turn have impacts on the environment.

2 – Recognize commitments made under different policy processes that are relevant to climate change and migration, translate them into national actions and pursue the implementation of commitments made across policy processes.

3 – Acknowledge and refer to agreed relevant principles and rights, negotiated language and existing best practices in terms of migration and climate change and seek to incorporate those principles and rights in other relevant frameworks (such as the midterm review of the SAMOA Pathway).

4 – Consider adapting, where needed, existing national human mobility policies, strategies, legal frameworks and legislation and/ or create new measures to reflect the principles agreed upon at the global level in terms of migration in the context of climate change, notably UNFCCC and the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.

5 – Develop and/or strengthen national policies, strategies and legal frameworks of relevance to systematically include migration and climate change concerns, through a whole-of-government approach coordinated between migration, development, climate and disaster stakeholders. These approaches should seek to:

minimize forced and poorly managed forms of human mobility and reduce vulnerabilities;

– provide assistance and protection to migrants moving in the context of climate change;

– facilitate migration in the context of climate and environmental changes by fostering regular migration pathways.

6 – Ensure that all national policies, plans, strategies and legal frameworks related to human mobility in the context of climate change, disasters and environmental degradation are coherent at the national level, and accompanied by solid implementation, monitoring and evaluation mechanisms, as well as multi-year funding.

7 – Mainstream migration as an adaptation, resilience or coping strategy in relevant national policy frameworks (climate adaptation and mitigation plans, development plans, land and housing planning systems, urban planning, disaster risk management and disaster response).

8 – Enhance engagement in North– South, South–South and triangular cooperation to effectively address migration in climate change adaptation and development strategies, and improve preparedness and response capacity, in line with the objectives of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.

9 – Ensure that the potential benefits of migration are analysed and included, whenever relevant, in long-term national adaptation policies, plans or strategies; and create supportive environments that maximize positive outcomes of migration, including for those leaving or returning, and support the positive contributions of migrants to climate action.

10 – Increase participation in relevant global and regional intergovernmental and multilateral discussions on climate change and migration to ensure the inclusion of the specific concerns of the LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS.

11 – Encourage the development and sharing of regional solutions and best practices in addressing climate migration via regional bodies and fora, such as the regional consultative processes on migration, the regional political and trade bodies, and the UN regional economic commissions.

12 – Acknowledge emerging challenges of climate-induced migration and displacement, and emphasize the importance of implementing the Paris Agreement.

“Climate change and migration are global challenges that translate into specific concerns in LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS. These countries constitute the poorest segment of humanity, and the most vulnerable to climate-related shocks. Building resilience to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change is fundamental for LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS to reduce instances of forced migration” explains in the conclusions the report.

In an increasingly connected and global system, it is not possible to limit oneself to policies on effects that do not include measures in relation to the causes.


by Christian Elia