• Gina Gallardo and Sieun Lee

There have been an increasing number of publications on the effects of environmental change on migration in recent years[1]. However, has research captured and reflected the policy needs and interest of countries affected by “environmental migration”? 

A review of National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs) and National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) provide an unfavorable answer to this question. Migration is often viewed as a failure of climate change adaptation. However, increasingly more weight is given to the argument that migration can be beneficial adaptation to the impacts of environmental and climate change. As a result, reliable data and policy oriented research are in high demand to respond to the needs of policymakers. 

The EU-funded project “Migration, Environment and Climate Change: Evidence for Policymaking (MECLEP)” aims to contribute to the global knowledge base on the relationship between migration and environmental change, with a core objective to conduct policy-relevant research. In this regard, the first main activity of the project is to set up technical working groups consisting of policymakers in each of the six pilot countries of the MECLEP project: the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Kenya, Mauritius, Papua New Guinea and Viet Nam, four of which are Small Island Developing States (SIDS).  

In the Dominican Republic, A Technical Working Group (TWG) was established at the national level and met for the first time in April 2014. The Group consists of government actors, civil society and academia that are engaged on the topic of migration or the environment. The TWG was set up to reflect the priorities of public policy in the project activities, especially the main research component. 

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[1] More studies were published in four years between 2008 and 2011, compared to between 1990 and 2007. This could be viewed as an expansion or even explosion of interest in academia and the general public.  For more details, see E. Piguet and F. Laczko (eds). 2014. People on the Move in a Changing Climate, Global Migration Issues 2. Springer.