How can migration serve adaptation to climate change? Challenges to fleshing out a policy ideal
Migration continues to be pictured in public debates as a failure to adapt to changes, while policymakers explore adaptation measures as a means to reduce migration pressures, and scholars have contended that migration processes exist within a larger framework of strategies for adapting to damaging climate change impacts. So what are the impacts of migration on the adaptive capacities and vulnerabilities of the origin and host communities, as well as of the migrants themselves? The objective of this conceptual and methodological paper is to identify possible different options for research into the consequences of migration for adaptation. The first section reviews how the migration–adaptation nexus has been addressed in the literature, confirming the potential of human mobility to build resilience and to increase adaptive capacities within complex and potentially maladaptive processes. The next section explores the potential impacts of migration that need to be studied, from three main vantage points: the migrants themselves, the community of origin, and the community of destination. A final section weighs the possible approaches and suggests solutions that may exist to advance empirical study of the migration–adaptation area nexus, so that it can address not just the causes, but also the consequences of migration in the context of environmental changes.