Migration, Environment, and Climate Change: Regional Policy Forum for Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean Region - Report

IOM (Isabel Herrero, Nikki Funke and Ngowenani Nohayi)
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The complex nexus between migration and environment, including climate change and natural disasters, needs to be addressed in a holistic manner. Yet despite a growing body of studies on the topic, there is still a lack of reliable data and policy oriented research which can respond to the needs of national policymakers and operational partners, and foster regional cooperation and dialogue on the issue. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) regional project “Migration, Environment, and Climate Change: Evidence for Policy in Southern Africa and in the Indian Ocean”, which has been implemented in the four target countries of Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, and Namibia, works with and supports Ministries of Environment, as well as other relevant ministries and government entities in selected Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) Member States. The aim of the project is to strengthen the knowledge base on the relationship between migration and environmental change, including climate change, to inform the formulation of related national and regional policy and operational planning.

At the request of the respective government counterparts in the target countries, IOM set up technical working groups (TWGs) and supported national inception and/or capacity building workshops. Four individual countrylevel assessments on Migration, Environment, and Climate Change (MECC) were conducted in Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, and Namibia. While each country developed its research questions to address the specific context and priorities for evidence based policy development on MECC that could be actioned by the respective governments, research tools were developed to enable some level of comparability and cross fertilization amongst countries. In each of the countries, a national consultation was held and facilitated to take stock of findings, and to develop a blueprint for policy and operational planning purposes. Beyond the evidence collected at the level of individual Member States, MECC is of paramount relevance for both SADC and IOC.

Against the background of the IOM country assessments, IOM with the support of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) undertook and facilitated a two-day Regional Policy Forum for SADC and IOC, where officials from the IOC and representatives from Member States discussed the findings of the country assessments, and had an opportunity to debate and define a regional policy-guiding document that establishes priorities and stimulates cooperation as well as cross fertilization amongst Member States.

The MECC Regional Policy Forum included the following participants:
• Delegates from Ministries of Environment or National Disaster Risk Management Authorities from SADC and IOC Member States;
• IOC Secretariat Delegates;
• IOM Delegates;
• CSIR Delegates;
• United Nations (UN) agencies and International Non- Governmental Organizations (INGOs) representatives.

In order to address MECC challenges and opportunities in the region, participants identified and agreed on a series of priority activities for the governance of the topic around four themes: data, research, and information; policy frameworks; coordination platforms; and implementation.