Difficult decisions: Migration from Small Island Developing States under climate change

Kelman, I.
Earth’s Future
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Ilan Kelman


The impacts of climate change on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are leading to discussions regarding decision‐making about the potential need to migrate. Despite the situation being well‐documented, with many SIDS aiming to raise the topic to prominence and to take action for themselves, limited support and interest has been forthcoming from external sources. This paper presents, analyzes, and critiques a decision‐making flowchart to support actions for SIDS dealing with climate change‐linked migration. The flowchart contributes to identifying the pertinent topics to consider and the potential support needed to implement decision‐making.

The flowchart has significant limitations and there are topics which it cannot resolve. On‐the‐ground considerations include who decides, finances, implements, monitors, and enforces each decision. Additionally, views within communities differ, hence mechanisms are needed for dealing with differences, while issues to address include moral and legal blame for any climate change‐linked migration, the ultimate goal of the decision‐making process, the wider role of migration in SIDS communities and the right to judge decision‐making and decisions. The conclusions summarize the paper, emphasizing the importance of considering contexts beyond climate change and multiple SIDS voices.