PODCAST: how can we protect people who migrate as a way of adapting to climate change?

One of the most talked about topics in the field of climate and migration is the idea of migration as adaptation. In this podcast we argue that for many people migration may be their most viable way of adapting. However we also argue that this can open up a new set of risks for migrants including exploitation in new work places. If migration is truely to become an empowering way for people to adapt, states must act to protect the welfare of people who move.

Migration as climate change adaptation strategy – key points

  • Migration is increasingly becoming a way that some communities adapt to climate change impacts. Regardless of the policy debate, people are already using migration as a coping strategy.
  • We argued that there are several measures that could enable more people to use migration as a way of adapting to a changing climate. Key among these is education in rural areas. This could enable people to leave badly hit agricultural areas and seek work in other locations.
  • We also pointed to several challenges that the idea of migration as adaptation presents. We organised these roughly into issues faced by sending communities and issues faced by migrants.
  • For example when people leave a household, this can move important responsibilities – such as child care – onto other household members. This could result in older members of the household having to care for children. Or children bearing more responsibility for younger children, which could affect their education.
  • We therefore made the case that as migration as adaptation becomes a matter of policy, projects must not ignore the people who are left behind.
  • We further made the case that people who move as an adaptive response to climate change may not face fundamentally different challenges to other kinds of migrants. For example as people move from rural areas to cities, they may face issues such as poor housing, exploitation by employers and poor access to services.
  • Again, we made the case that as migration as adaptation become a matter of policy – rather than an ad-hoc coping strategy – additional efforts must be made to combat the challenges faced by migrants moving into cities.

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