Climate change, migration and violent conflict: vulnerabilities, pathways and adaptation strategies

Michael Brzoskaa & Christiane Fröhlicha
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It has often been predicted that large numbers of people will be displaced by climate change and that this will lead to violent conflict. At the core of this prediction is a simple causal model which assumes that climate change will result in resource scarcities, which in turn will drive migration as well as violent conflict. Academic research into the links between climate change, migration and conflict has questioned such predictions; their theoretical foundation and empirical support are thin. This does not mean that climate change will be irrelevant for future patterns of migration, including migration that may be linked to violent conflict. However, it has become clear that the links between climate change, migration and conflict are complex and defy simple and sensationalist conclusions. After outlining the state of the art on climate migration and the environment–migration–conflict nexus, this article sketches the environmental, economic and sociopolitical consequences of climate change contributing to migration and the different functions of migration in this context, for instance as an adaptive strategy to environmental change. It then delineates the different theorized pathways from migration to conflict escalation, evaluates their analytical value and develops a more differentiated model of the assumed links between climate change, migration and conflict.

DOI: 10.1080/21632324.2015.1022973

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