The connection between migration and climate change has become a priority for climate diplomacy. In view of future climate risks, it is important to analyse how climate change can impact migration pathways and what approaches will help to address climate-induced displacements - both within and between countries. It is clear that one has to allow for the immense complexity of the phenomenon. Interviews with experts from the Planetary Security community: Francesco Femia, Kitty van der Heijden, Hammou Laamrani, Dan Smith, Michel Rademaker and Tom Middendorp.
The connection between migration and climate change has become a climate diplomacy priority. In view of future climate risks, it is important to analyse the ways in which climate change can impact migration pathways and what approaches are required to address climate-induced displacements - within and between countries. The immense complexity of this challenge needs to be adequately addressed.
Climate change can exacerbate the other drivers of migration – whether that is food or water stress. That is a big problem. Major migration flows and refugee flows can have a significant regional and international security impact. Those are some of the new risks we need to be really worried about.
Kitty van der Heijden
I think migration is a complex phenomenon that is not just around climate change and drought implication, it is very much a process of exclusion and people feeling that they have no prospect for a future dignified life, a prospect for prosperity. If you can bring people prosperity within their own community, in their own livelihoods, that is where they want to stay.
Climate change leads to droughts, leads to floodings, which cause shortages in food and water. Shortages in food and water in combination with the increasing population of the world, is a source of instability and can create migration flows, can be a [breeding] ground for extremism and can be a [breeding] ground for conflicts. And that makes this very important for me.
Most migration that is related to environmental change – including climate change – happens either within countries or just straight across the nearest border. A lot of that migration is actually labor migration because it is about people living in communities where they are unable to meet their livelihood needs, [so they are] sending members of their families off to other places to work and then they send back remittances – it is a very classic pattern. So the first thing to understand is that environmental migration is not about an enormous rush of people heading straight towards the rich parts of the worlds like Europe – most of it is South-South.
Climate change is already creating internal displacements. Those internal displacements to cities that are not prepared to absorb this influx of migration has triggered social unrest as a consequence. That social unrest is having implications on migration not only within countries, but outside the countries and regions.
For solving these world-wide problems regarding climate and migration you need ecosystem approaches to work together in a concerted way.
Preventive and early action is needed to strengthen livelihoods and local resilience and to support the peaceful management of the dynamics of migration. Evidently, this must be rooted in an improved understanding of the multifaceted impacts of climate change."