Tag Archives: climate change
The University of the UN and Care have release a report looking at relationship between changing rainfall, livelihoods and migration. We reported on the new maps the project produced back in September. The final report of the project shows that migration is increasingly becoming a key survival strategy for people who’s livelihoods are impacted by changing rainfall patterns.
- Migration – seasonal, temporal, and permanent – plays an important part in many families’ struggle to deal with rainfall variability and food & livelihood insecurity;
- Migration was found to have increased in recent decades in a number of the research sites;
- Households with more diverse assets and access to a variety of adaptation, livelihood diversification, or risk management options can use migration in ways that enhance resilience;
- Almost entirely within national borders;
- Predominantly male, but with growing participation by women in a number of countries (with India as the exception where entire nuclear families moved together);
- Seasonal, temporal or permanent migration patterns;
- Largely by individual household members (except in the India research site);
- Largely driven by livelihood-related needs (household income) in most countries, but with a growing number of migrants seeking improved skill sets (e.g. through education) in countries like Thailand, Vietnam and Peru;
- A mix of rural-rural and rural-urban, with more productive agricultural areas (Ghana, Bangladesh, Tanzania), nearby urban centers (Peru, India),
Doha: will this year’s climate negotiations create better support and protection for people at risk of displacement linked to climate change?
Migration and displacement are rarely talked about in news stories about UN climate negotiations, in spite of the fact that some interesting progress has been made on these issues. This year’s talks in Doha are no exception.
The Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development has produced a short report of the areas of the talks that look at migration and displacement and the potential they hold for creating more support or legal protection for people at risk.
The most significant advance at the negotiations was two years ago when the talks took place in Cancun. The statement agreed “invites all parties” to consider
“Measures to enhance understanding, coordination and cooperation with regard to climate change induced displacement, migration and planned relocation, where appropriate, at the national, regional and international levels”.
Although this might seem like tiny piece of text it is actually very important. It indicates a first step towards considering displacement and migration within the UN’s climate negotiations. The paragraph could either be strengthened or diluted at Doha over the next couple of weeks.
The negotiations also contain a stream of talks focusing on “loss and damage”. This essentially means the ways in which countries might deal with the effects of increasingly severe and frequent natural disasters. Negotiations around loss and damage recognise that while adaptation might allow some areas to change and accommodate some of the effects of climate change, many areas will be facing sudden shocks that will create widespread loss of life, injury and damage to property and infrastructure. These disasters may also have migration and displacement consequences. In previous rounds of talks island states and Least Developed Countries have made proposals that would help them cope with the loss and damage associated with disasters. Their proposals included insurance and compensation to help with the financial costs of “rehabilitation” of areas damaged by disasters. The insurance and compensation could have helped these countries support groups of people forced to move by disasters. However the proposals were rejected.
Negotiations on loss and damage are handled by a working group at the UN negotiations called the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI). This year in Doha the SBI is considering new proposals on loss and damage and there is the possibility that something more positive could emerge.
As the Field report concludes:
The question now is: will climate displacement and migration finally be fully and bravely addressed in UNFCCC negotiations? Or is the future of climate exiles best determined through bilateral and regional agreements? It is clear that attention has been building with regard to this situation, but more action and international commitment is needed for more concrete steps towards dealing with the individuals vulnerable to climate displacement and migration, who ultimately face a rather bleak and uncertain future without sufficient legal safeguards to protect their rights or interests.
From the executive summary: “This year’s World Disasters Report focuses on forced migration and on the people forcibly displaced by conflict, political upheaval, violence, disasters, climate change and development projects, whose numbers are increasing inexorably each year. The enormous human costs of forced migration – destroyed homes and livelihoods, increased vulnerability, disempowered communities, and collapsed social networks and common bonds – demand urgent and decisive action by both humanitarian and development actors.
The report analyses the complex causes of forced migration and its consequences and impacts on displaced populations, their hosts and humanitarian actors. It looks at the significant gaps in humanitarian protection for ever-increasing numbers of forced migrants who do not fit into conventional categories of protection, and the public health challenges caused by forced displacement, particularly for women, children and those with mental ill-health problems. It examines the ‘urbanization’ of forced migration, the role of climate change and environmental factors in forced displacement and how new communications, information and social networking technologies are reshaping the links between aid providers and migrants. It also tracks humanitarian funding for forcibly displaced populations, as well as the positive and negative economic impacts they have on host communities and countries.”
More information and the application form are available here.
“Are you keen, willing to take some risks, live with uncertainty and deal with anything and everything and then some more. All tempered with experience, a fine mind and good people-skills. We expect a certain level of resilience and maturity, and an ability to step around the dangers of burnout.”
There are a range of ‘positive’ ways of framing the relationship between climate change and migration. This does not mean dismissing the very real dangers that people in at-risk areas face, but it does mean talking about climate-induced migration as part of the ‘solution’ rather than as part as the problem. A frame in which migration is part of the solution starts from the position that migration is not inherently a bad thing. It becomes problematic when it is forced, and causes harm, but this harm can be minimised by planning and working pro-actively with vulnerable communities.
This framing is positive in the sense that it recognises the pros as well as the cons of migration, but also in the sense that it promotes agency for the people who are migrating. This approach would not be appropriate for situations where migration is forced or involuntary. But if it is used to promote rapid action to prevent forced migration, then it may still be a useful frame.
The risk of pursuing this frame is that it may depoliticise a fundamentally political issue into a ‘safe’ space, from where it is impossible to advocate. Using this frame in an effective way means promoting migration as part of the solution while simultaneously highlighting the very real threats that vulnerable populations face.
How can migration be framed as part of the solution? Human populations have always been in flux, and the challenge (as with other impacts of climate change) is to manage the risks effectively through forward planning. The future will hold many challenges, of which this is one, and the best way of managing it is by building resilience. Taking a proactive approach to anticipating the climate-related risks that vulnerable populations will face, and working collaboratively with these groups to plan and make decisions will increase resilience to climate change. For example, one family member migrating for work to supplement a subsistence income could provide a valuable contribution to food security, allowing the family to remain in their current location (if, indeed, they wanted to).
Many impacts of climate change are now unavoidable – but the harm they cause is not inevitable if urgent and effective adaptation is put into place, supported by solidarity between citizens of different nations, who all face a shared challenge. This kind of language – and the framing it embodies – speaks to strongly selftranscending values of kindness, benevolence, and empathy.
This is an edited extract from our report Communicating Climate Change and Migration.
A new of series of maps have just been released which help illustrate the complex relationships between climate change, rainfall, livelihoods, water and migration. The maps are part of the Where the Rain Falls project, a collaboration involving CARE International and the University of the United Nations. The research looks at how migration is becoming a common adaptive response to water stress caused by changing rain fall patterns. Participants in the survey element of the research consistently pointed to migration as risk management strategy. The conclusions reinforce existing research on migration in response to environmental change. People often migrate seasonally rather than permanently; people move in order to find non-farm work; and one or two household members tend to migrate diversifying household income.
From the Earth Institute blog post: The Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) has worked closely with CARE and the United Nations University to develop a series of maps illustrating results from case studies in eight countries for the Where the Rain Falls project. The project aims to illustrate the relationship between rainfall variability and human vulnerability in the context of a changing climate, livelihoods, and migration as a strategic response.
Under the conditions that prevail in Same District, changes in rainfall patterns translate directly into impacts on crop and livestock production and food security. Water scarcity is the most commonly identified problem by the residents of this area, and research participants consistently identified drought as the biggest threat to their livelihoods. Given the dearth of alternative local off-farm employment opportunities, migration is a very important risk management strategy for households in these villages. Migration patterns vary across the three villages, but seasonal migrants outnumber those migrating for more than six months. Although the largest migration flows seem to be to another rural area, rural-to-urban migration is also seen, with nearly one-third of survey respondents identifying Tanzania’s capital, Dar es Salaam, as the most common destination.
This new paper in the Journal of Human Security looks critically at the prevailing narrative around climate change and conflict in Bangladesh. The paper questions the assumptions of the common narrative which suggests that climate change will lead to human displacement, which will then lead to various kinds of violent conflict. In this paper Ben Saul of the University of Sydney Faculty of Law tests these assumptions against the available evidence. The broad conclusion of the paper is that the popular narrative is not supported by evidence. A narrative that suggests direct causal links between climate change, displacement and then conflict ignores crucial factors, especially the role of human agency.
From the introduction: This article interrogates whether, and to what extent, climate change-related movement in Bangladesh may give rise to two commonly suggested security risks: transnational security risks in relation to neighbouring countries; and domestic security risks of radicalisation, and social conflict over resources. This article is a modest effort to ground consideration of the links between climate change displacement and security threats in a concrete case study of a particular situation, including through a review of the expert national and regional literature and qualitative field research in Bangladesh and West Bengal, India. In doing so, it aims to test the prevailing assumptions in the global literature against social realities on the ground, acknowledging security risks where they exist, and deflating those that bear little substance.
The UN High Commission for Refugees has released a new report looking at legal protection issues around relocation. The report examines some of the challenges involved in protecting people whose relocation is linked to climate change.
From the executive summary: Climate change is expected to lead to increased human mobility in the forms of migration, displacement and planned relocation of communities as areas become uninhabitable because of the effects of global warming. While considerable attention has been directed toward the first two categories – particularly from humanitarian actors and migration specialists – the third form of movement has received much less attention. Most of the experience with planned relocation of communities has occurred in the context of development projects. This paper seeks to contribute to the discussion on mobility and climate change by focusing on planned relocations of communities as an adaptation to climate change. There are several different subcategories of people who may need to be relocated as a result of the effects of climate change, including:
- people who need to be relocated from areas prone to sudden-onset natural disasters which are increasing in severity and intensity as a result of climate change (e.g. flood areas);
- people who need to be relocated because their livelihoods are threatened by slowonset effects of climate change (e.g. increasing drought frequency, salinisation of water resulting from sea level rise);
- people who need to be relocated because their country or parts of their country face destruction from the effects of climate change (e.g. small island states facing sea level rise.)