Policy Briefs

The Migration, Environment and Climate Change: Policy Brief Series seeks to contribute to the current global knowledge base by providing reliable and precise information on the topic of migration and environmental change, including climate change. Its objective is also to present related and appropriate policy options by identifying recommendations, good practices and lessons learned to harness the positive impacts of migration in adapting to environmental changes.

The Policy Brief Series is a reader-friendly online publication intended for policymakers and other stakeholders working in the field of migration, environment and climate change adaptation policies. Further details can be found in the guidance note.


LIST OF POLICY BRIEFS

 

Policy Developments and Options to Address Human Mobility in the Context of Climate Risk in the Pacific Islands Region

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In this policy brief, we chart the relevant policy developments in the Pacific Islands region, to evidence the multiple pathways by which mobility in the context of climate change is integrated in, or supported by, policy tools. It had been noted that, as recently as 2016, there was a dearth of dedicated policies in the region on climate mobilities. In fact, the scarcity of both regional and national policies on migration, displacement and relocation was identified then as contributing to a potential ad hoc approach to addressing and supporting movement, potentially leading to situations of maladaptation and calls for policy attention. More recently, dedicated policy has been emerging increasingly, and continues to emerge. As this is ahead of other regions, it may prove useful to nations or regions also grappling with how to approach climate-related human mobility (or immobility) as a policy concern.

This policy brief was produced under the Australian Research Council funded Linkage project Transformative Human Mobilities in a Changing Climate (LP170101136). As part of this project, the reporting on policy developments presented here will be supplemented with applied research in a number of Pacific Island locations (Fiji, Kiribati, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu), as well as in Australia (where possible given current restrictions on travel induced by the COVID-19 pandemic).

This policy brief is part of the Pacific Climate Change Migration and Human Security Programme: Policy Brief Series.

Migration, Environment and Climate Change: Policy Brief Series Issue 1 | Vol. 6 | January 2021

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Too Much, Too Little Water (policy brief)
People across Peru are vulnerable and exposed to a wide range of hazards, and studies demonstrate that these hazards are key drivers of migration in the country. Hydrometeorological hazards resulting in excessive amounts of water (in such forms as torrential rainfalls and floods) – or the lack thereof (such as drought or glacier retreat) – are particularly salient to migration. Climate change has intensified these hazards and will continue to do so, possibly resulting in new and unparalleled impacts on migration.

This policy brief, based on a systematic review of the literature and expert interviews, assesses available scientific evidence on the nexus between climate risks and migration in Peru. It discusses the necessity to understand climate migration patterns and improve planning and policies in the short term to the mid-term, in view of several “no-analog threats” – that is, those with unprecedented, large impacts – that could occur towards the end of the century. Recent policy developments in the country, such as the National Plan of Action on Climate Migration and the National Adaptation Plan (NAP), can break new ground in addressing these challenges.

Number of Pages: 16
ISSN: 2410-4930
Year: 2021
Available in Spanish
Electronic copy only

Policy Brief Series Issue 2 | Vol. 5 : Migration, environment and climate change in coastal cities in Indonesia

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This policy brief examines the relationship between migration, environment and climate change in coastal areas in Indonesia, where over 70 per cent of the population lives in low-elevation coastal zones (LECZs). Hydrometeorological phenomena – particularly sea-level rise, coastal erosion and flooding – are impacting livelihoods that have remained largely absent from climate-related policy and academic literature of Indonesia. Based on a series of semi-structured interviews with affected individuals and civil society and government representatives, research shows that these phenomena interact with other development challenges – particularly natural resource-dependency and poverty – resulting in detrimental effects on livelihoods in LECZs. While affected individuals and households implement a series of adaptation strategies, these only address immediate and short-term needs, which often only prolong displacement driven by permanent land loss and livelihood disruption. Moreover, affected populations experience a series of barriers to migration, including the availability of land, deteriorating land prices, the lack of financial and social capital, employment opportunities and transferable skills. The brief argues that migration can be a necessary and positive long-term adaptation strategy if well managed and calls for integration of environmental migration into national frameworks for adaptation and broader development plans.

Number of Pages: 13
ISSN: 2410-4930
Year: 2019
Electronic copy only

Policy Brief Series Issue 1 | Vol. 5: Marshallese perspectives on migration in the context of climate change

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Marshall Islands is a nation of widely dispersed, low-lying coral atolls and islands, with approximately 70 mi2 of land area scattered across 750,000 mi2 of ocean (Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, 2015). Average elevation for the Marshall Islands is approximately 2 m. above mean sea level, and many islands and atolls are lower (Owen et al., 2016). As climate change causes sea levels to rise and weather patterns to shift, the Marshall Islands face flooding, heat stress and drought that damages agriculture, livelihoods, homes and infrastructure (Keener et al., 2012; Marra et al., 2017).

When the frequency and intensity of climate-related hazards increases, residents may have to make the difficult choice of whether to leave their home islands in the hope of a more stable future. Marshallese migrants move within the country to larger islands or to the United States of America where the Compact of Free Association allows them to live and work under a special status (Graham, 2008; McElfish, 2016). However, push and pull factors triggering human migration are complex and often intertwined, making it difficult to pinpoint and address specific causes (The Government Office for Science, 2011).

Number of Pages: 12
ISSN: 2410-4930
Year: 2019

Policy Brief Series Issue 3 | Vol. 4: Environmental change and translocal vulnerability in Senegal

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Mobility has constituted a key element of livelihood strategies in the West African Sahel region and in Senegal for a long time. It has allowed households to diversify the places and sources of revenue accessible to them, and in this way, adapt to a resource-poor environment. In the last decades, however, natural and man-made factors have accelerated environmental degradation and exacerbated the vulnerability of local households. Simultaneously, coping strategies based on mobility have been increasingly hindered by factors such as changes in migration and land policies.

Against this background, this brief presents findings and recommendations based on empirical research conducted in four villages in Senegal and at two migration destinations in Italy and Spain. It provides an analysis of the links between household vulnerability, exposure to environmental degradation and migration. Firstly, it investigates how vulnerability influences the exposure of households to environmental degradation. Secondly, it analyses migration as an adaptation strategy to environmental change. Thirdly, it examines the impact of vulnerability on the households’ ability to adopt translocal livelihood strategies.

Migration can be an effective strategy of adaptation to environmental change. However, vulnerability has an impact not only on the households’ exposure to environmental degradation, but also on their ability to migrate. If not addressed, vulnerability can furthermore be transmitted from the places of origin to the places of destination of migrants. Consequently, this brief advocates that policy action is required to tackle the influence of vulnerability factors on the ability of households to cope with environmental degradation through migration. This could strengthen the potential of mobility for resilience.

 

Number of Pages: 8
ISSN: ISSN 2410-4930
Year: 2018

Policy Brief Series Issue 2 | Vol. 4: Migration and Water Governance

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Today, almost 15 per cent of the global population is on the move, with more than 244 million international migrants and 763 million internal migrants, UN statistics estimate (UN DESA, 2015). An increasing proportion of these migration flows is linked with the scarcity of natural resources. Consequently, on the one hand, the importance of managing natural resources is increasingly recognized in the migration debate. On the other hand, these migration flows have become an important issue to consider in various international, regional and national policy frameworks, including those related to water resource governance. Migration, Environment and Climate Change: Policy Brief Series Issue 2 | Vol. 4 | May 2018 2 The increasing number of global water challenges and associated migration patterns – in many cases forced migration – create a strong impetus to discuss and integrate migration policy concerns in water governance at the global level. This policy brief examines the nexus between migration and freshwater governance and explores the potential synergies between both policy domains.

Number of Pages: 9
ISSN: 2410-4930
Year: 2018

Policy Brief Series Issue 1 | Vol. 4: Central and North America: Migration and displacement in the context of disasters and environmental change

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Migration and displacement in the context of disasters and environmental change is recognized as a significant trend in Central and North America. Disasters have prompted millions in recent years to flee internally, as well as to other countries in search of protection and assistance. Contributing to broader environmental change, climate change is exacerbating the intensity and frequency of natural hazards, affecting people’s resilience and livelihoods, sometimes to the level of seeking better conditions somewhere else. This paper aims to brief policymakers on the nexus of migration, displacement, disasters and environmental change in Central and North America, as well as on normative and policy responses, specifically focusing on cross-border movements within the region.

Number of Pages: 14
ISSN: 2410-4930
Year: 2018

Policy Brief Series Issue 3 | Vol. 3: The Migration, Environment and Climate Change Nexus in Ghana

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Climate change has been affecting Ghana to a significant degree in the past 10 to 15 years. Its adverse effects have increased the frequency and intensity of natural hazards, which in turn have led to disasters and changed migration patterns. Human-made hazards further augment the livelihood loss and food insecurity created by natural hazards, leading to a rise in migration. The increased migration intensifies the impacts of natural and human-made hazards, thereby creating a feedback loop.
This brief aims to provide policymakers with an understanding of these phenomena. It analyses the complex interconnections between migration, environment and climate change (MECC) in Ghana, reviews the Government’s past and current efforts towards addressing this nexus, and proposes recommendations on the way forward.
 
Table of contents: 
  • Introduction
  • Environmental impact on migration
  • Environmental changes and impacts on migration in Ghana
  • International and national policies
  • Recommendations
  • References
Number of Pages: 11
ISSN: 2410-4930
Year: 2017
Electronic copy only
 

Policy Brief Series Issue 2 | Vol. 3: Environment and migration experts: Who are they, and what are their views?

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There is an increasing understanding of the phenomenon of environmental migration, while less is known about the experts who directly or indirectly drive the policy development. This policy brief reports on an online questionnaire of 262 such experts, which aims to understand the environment and migration experts and their perceptions of environmental migration. The authors assume that policy is not only based on objective assessment of the issue, but also influenced by the knowledge, values, beliefs, assumptions, cultural contexts and activities of people involved in its development. 

At a milestone moment when, after a long period of research and debate, environmental migration is being formalized on policy agendas, the authors ask: What are the characteristics of experts? How do they define environmental migration, and what policies do they support? Knowing the answers to these questions can aid policy formation and, importantly, evaluation of policies and programmes addressing environmental migration, as well as self-evaluation and critical reflection among those involved.

Table of contents:

  • Introduction
  • Concept definition
  • PMEC experts: Why study them?
  • Studying PMEC experts using an online questionnaire
  • Who are PMEC experts?
  • How do PMEC experts define and frame PMEC?
  • What do PMEC experts think about averting, facilitating and protecting those who move?
  • Lessons learned and recommendations
  • References
 
Number of Pages: 11
ISSN: ISSN 2410-4930
Year: 2017
Electronic copy only
 
 

Policy Brief Series Issue 1 | Vol. 3: The changing climates, cultures and choices of Mongolian nomadic pastoralists

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Mongolia’s harsh climate and the dependence of the nation’s rural population on animal husbandry make it vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Mongolia is already experiencing dramatic rural-to-urban migration as a result of multiple factors, including declining livelihood opportunities in rural areas, a phenomenon exacerbated by environmental changes and natural disasters such as drought and dzud. Ongoing climate change is expected to present a growing challenge to the traditional pastoral way of life of many in Mongolia and likely to continue to impact human mobility.  

Number of Pages: 12
Volume: 3
ISSN: 2410-4930
Year: 2017