Climate change and displacement

FMR 31
October 2008

In response to growing pressures on landscapes and livelihoods, people are moving, communities are adapting. This issue of FMR debates the numbers, the definitions and the modalities – and the tension between the need for research and the need to act. Thirty-eight articles by UN, academic, international and local actors explore the extent of the potential displacement crisis, community adaptation and coping strategies, and the search for solutions.

The issue also includes a range of articles on other aspects of forced migration. This issue has been published in English, French, Spanish and Arabic.

Contents

Achim Steiner
Andrew Morton, Philippe Boncour, and Frank Laczko

All evidence points towards climate- and environmentally induced migration becoming one of the major policy challenges of this century. Adequate planning for and management of this phenomenon will be critical for human security.

Oli Brown

Estimates of the potential number of ‘climate change migrants’ vary hugely. In order to persuade policymakers of the need to act and to provide a sound basis for appropriate responses, there is an urgent need for better analysis, better data and better predictions. 

Olivia Dun and François Gemenne

There is currently no consensus on definitions in this field of study. The resulting variety of terms is not just confusing but unhelpful.

Maria Stavropoulou

Refugees or migrants? In need of new forms of legal protection or adequately protected by existing instruments? No obvious or absolute answers.

Koko Warner, Olivia Dun and Marc Stal
François Gemenne and Philip Reuchlin

Three of the 24 EACH-FOR case-studies are in Central Asia – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan – where environmental challenges are triggering displacement.

Kees van der Geest and Richard de Jeu

Migration from northern Ghana is a strategy for dealing with structural environmental scarcity rather than degradation.

Khalid Koser

Gaps in protection still remain for those people displaced by climate change within their own countries.

Scott Leckie

An integrated approach to climate change demands that human rights and adaptation strategies are pursued hand-in-hand.

Ilan Kelman

Global environmental change is expected to have particular impact on islands around the world.

William A V Clark

It has been, and it will continue to be, difficult to identify any simple or straightforward links between environmentally induced migration and conflict.

Scott Edwards

What dangers does climate change pose to societies most vulnerable to changes in local environmental conditions?

Troy Sternberg and Dawn Chatty
Aidan A Cronin, Dinesh Shrestha and Paul Spiegel

The essential sectors of humanitarian relief will all see major changes in the way that assistance is delivered.

James Morrissey

Environmental change in the highlands of Ethiopia contributes, in a variety of ways, to encouraging migration out of rural areas.

Robin Bronen

Forced migration due to climate change will severely challenge the resilience of communities forced to migrate as well as the capacities of local and national governments.

Manuel Carballo, Chelsea B Smith and Karen Pettersson

There are no easy solutions to the emerging implications for health of climate change-related migration.

Mohamed Adow

The pastoralist community of northern Kenya has been ravaged by both droughts and floods. 

Reid Basher

With the prospect of more extreme weather events, it makes sense to strengthen the efforts of governments and communities to reduce disaster risks.

Ujah Oliver Chinedu

Climate change in Nigeria is very real and needs urgent attention.

Walter Kälin and Claudine Haenni Dale

Existing human rights obligations already oblige states to take measures to mitigate the risks of natural or man-made disasters – including those due to climate change – and thus to prevent displacement.

Jenty Kirsch-Wood, Jacob Korreborg and Anne-Marie Linde

Until recently, the humanitarian community had largely ignored the problem of climate change, thinking that mitigation – the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions – would minimise the need for adaptation to effects of climate change. Events appear to be proving us wrong.

Jock Baker, Charles Ehrhart and David Stone

A recent study using mapping techniques to analyse vulnerability over the next 20-30 years highlights potential “hotspots” and offers insights for mitigating the effects.

Vikram Odedra Kolmannskog

Adaptation in the most exposed and vulnerable states must be an international task.

Craig L Johnstone

Our generation has failed to live up to its obligations to prevent climate change and any steps we take now, however welcome, will not totally reverse the trends.  We need urgently to prepare now for the human consequences of climate change.

Britta Heine and Lorenz Petersen

Adaptation to climate change has become an important issue, both at international climate policy level and at the level of practical implementation on the ground.

Maryanne Loughry and Jane McAdam

As well as developing adaptation strategies, the people of Kiribati are having to consider the possibility of permanent relocation.

Jesse Cameron-Glickenhaus

Climate change threatens to destroy coral reef ecosystems. When reefs die, economic and food security is threatened, forcing people to move.

James Pender

Climate change adaptation strategies are urgently needed in Bangladesh but they must be community-led.

Women’s Environment and Development Organization

Although climate change affects everyone, it is not gender neutral.

Maarten van Aalst

Communicating about climate change is crucial for effective disaster risk management.

 

Christopher Smith, Dominic Kniveton, Sharon Wood and Richard Black

Empirical modelling techniques are the only way to effectively simulate migration resulting from a complex combination of pressures and opportunities.

Koko Warner and Frank Laczko

Given the magnitude of the challenges ahead, we urgently need to develop a policy-oriented global research agenda.

Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah

It remains doubtful whether national and international policymakers are yet willing or able to act to prevent or mitigate the displacement impacts of climate change.

Roger Zetter

How the legal and normative frameworks are addressed will be critical to the security of people threatened by climate change.

General articles

Kathleen Cravero

While the tragedy and suffering have made a deep impression, it is people’s courage and hope that keep me going.

Maarten Barends

Rule of law programmes usually take place after conflicts have ended but it is never too early to start programmes which encourage a return to the rule of law and respect for human rights.

Sergei Martynov

In February 2008, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime staged a major global event on human trafficking – the Vienna Forum, which captured wide international attention and received broad global acclaim.

Anna Popinchalk

HIV-positive refugees’ access to medical care in Egypt is impeded by the lack of medical services and by the intense stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS.

Axel García

Significant gaps in Mexico’s legal process are increasing refugee vulnerability.

Einar Bjorgo, Francesco Pisano, Joshua Lyons and Holger Heisig

Satellite imagery is becoming an increasingly important tool for the humanitarian community.

Jeff Crisp

There is a longstanding and well-documented relationship between human displacement and witchcraft allegations.

Claire Tebbets

Reproductive Health (RH) in Emergencies Conference 2008 was held 18-20 June in Kampala, Uganda, to address current RH issues in emergency settings and to contribute to the expansion of comprehensive RH services in such settings.

Nadine Walicki

Displaced people from Chechnya are still struggling to integrate outside the North Caucasus, despite being citizens of the Russian Federation.

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Opinions in FMR do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors, the Refugee Studies Centre or the University of Oxford.
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