Conference: Meeting of the Americas on Climate Change, Bogota

Elsa Garcia, IOM Colombia

Conferene report - Meeting of the Americas on Climate Change

Location: Bogota
Date: 20 to 23 September 2015

In preparation for the 21st Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris this December (COP21), the Meeting of the Americas on Climate Change took place at the Bogota City Hall, Colombia, from 20 to 23 September 2015. Among the various activities and parallel sessions of the meeting, was also a forum focussing on “Adapt or Flee? Challenges of Climate Change on Human Mobility”, jointly developed by the city administration, the IOM and a group of experts and researchers of environmental migration.

The Forum allowed national and international attendees to gain a better understanding of the complex realities of the nexus of migration and climate change. Additionally, the progress made in Colombia on including environmental migration into policy was presented.

The main conclusions of the Forum indicate:

a) the need to integrate migration across the board in policy, especially in climate change adaptation policy. Elements such as transitional justice should also be designed from the perspective of environmental migration, in which the rights and the assumption of non-repetition are guaranteed. This inclusion should take place from a differential perspective that recognizes the plurality of disadvantaged communities without neglecting their diversity, contexts and capacities.

b) the need to reflect upon the status that should be given to people affected by climate induced migration. The notion of “victim”, which is alien to the logic of comprehensive rights, must be overcome.

c)  the need to “know the phenomenon” requires not only dialogue and exchange of knowledge, but also the broad societal dissemination of that knowledge and raising awareness at all levels.

d)  Any public policy guideline addressing this matter should prioritize prevention activities as a structural form of intervention. In this regard it should be consistent with development models.

e)  Education should be the primary means of empowering communities, helping to develop their skills, thus enabling them to meet possible scenarios of involvement by climate variability and/or change in a resilient manner.