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.



Policy Brief Series Issue 10: Climate change and climate policy induced relocations: A challenge for social justice - Recommendations of the Bielefeld Consultation

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This policy brief is the result of an interdisciplinary research workshop with academics and practitioners, held at Bielefeld University in Germany on November 2014, in cooperation with COST Action IS1011 on Climate Change and Migration. The Bielefeld Consultation identified the need to raise awareness of the challenges of planned relocation as an adaptive strategy to climate change or as a consequence of climate policies. Acknowledging the risks and failures of planned relocation, the Consultation suggests principals and precautionary measures to ensure climate justice. And as a result of the Consultation, non-conclusive list of minimum standards for planned relocation are put forward for the consideration of policymakers and practitioners engaged in climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Policy Brief Series Issue 9: The poor pay the price, New research insights on human mobility, climate change and disasters

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In light of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris at the end of 2015, this policy brief highlights why human mobility should be included in the discussions on adaptation. Migration, in the context of environmental degradation and climate change, is already a reality today, particularly within countries, and not a future scenario. This is illustrated with findings from six countries (Dominican Republic, Haiti, Kenya, Mauritius, Papua New Guinea and Viet Nam). Data from Haiti shows that, in particular, both internal and international circular migration is a beneficial adaptation strategy to climate change and disasters.

Yet environmental stress is disproportionately affecting the poorest, who are most likely to be displaced and in need of relocation. Thus, policies should aim at reducing the risk for disasters and increasing resilience of those who cannot move and include the contributions of migrants as recognized in the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030.


Policy Brief Series Issue 8: When do households benefit from migration?

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Building on the main results of the MECLEP case study in Haiti, this policy brief explores how different forms of human mobility relate to household vulnerability in three Haitian municipalities (La Marmelade, Les Gonaïves and Port-au-Prince).  Recurrent (including seasonal) migration seems to be associated with the lowest levels of household vulnerability. 

The authors recommend policies aimed at fostering the potential of migration as part of positive adaptation strategies, while also  preventing and reducing displacement risks. Besides Haiti’s migration policy (currently under discussion), migration and its  relationship with household vulnerability is interconnected with several policy areas that would benefit from mainstreaming migration.

Policy Brief Series Issue 7: Some policies that might influence the relationship between environment and migration in the Dominican Republic

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Migration flows have always characterized the history of the Dominican Republic. Internal migration is a significant phenomenon within the country. Moreover, the Dominican Republic is one of most vulnerable countries to climate change. Nevertheless, the relationship between climate change and/or environmental degradation and internal migration is understudied and often not taken into consideration.

In this Policy Brief, Allen Cordero Ulate and Guillermo Lathrop propose a set of policies to address environmental migration in the framework of the Proposal for the National Development Strategy 2010-2030. Among other points, the authors emphasize the need for recognizing the inequalities existing among the population, strengthening territorial coordination bodies with the participation of the civil society and promoting territorial rural development and sustainable agriculture.

Policy Brief Series Issue 7 is in Spanish. 

ISSN 2415-1211

Policy Brief Series Issue 6: Relocation as an adaptation strategy to environmental stress

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Is relocation an adequate means of adaptation to environmental change? And if so, how should the relocation process be designed to benefit the affected population? This policy brief analyses the success factors of relocation programmes by drawing on studies on relocation projects in the Mekong River Delta in Viet Nam, as well as research carried out as part of the European Union-funded Migration, Environment and Climate Change: Evidence for Policy (MECLEP) project. The authors argue that the success of relocation depends on various factors: (a) livelihood preservation; (b) distance of the relocation site; and (c) availability of broad economic and institutional programmes supporting the process. The policy brief also stresses the importance of understanding relocation as a starting point of further mobility and formation of migration corridors, particularly in the case of the Mekong River Delta and Ho Chi Minh City. 

Policy Brief Series Issue 5: Migration as adaptation?

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Building on the research of “migration as adaptation”, the fifth issue aims to discuss possible adaptation policies and current climate change and development policy structures on human mobility in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Kenya, Mauritius, Papua New Guinea and Viet Nam.

It presents available national policy channels for proactive adaptation, as well as the ways in which proactively managed migration can be incorporated within these existing frameworks. The brief is supported by key findings from the six assessment reports of the MECLEP project.

Policy Brief Series Issue 4: Returning home after Fukushima

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Displacement due to disasters is on the rise globally. The 2011 Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami, followed by the Fukushima nuclear accident, displaced internally more than 150,000 persons. Four years later, many of these evacuees remain displaced, unable or hesitant to return home, due to radiological and social consequences caused by the disaster.

Drawing on two research projects, this policy brief seeks to examine the case of Fukushima evacuees, with special focus on the question of return, and attempts to make policy recommendations specifically tailored for the nuclear displacement. It explores ways in which genuine durable solutions can be found for their case in line with international protection guidelines for internally displaced persons.  

Policy Brief Series Issue 3: Migration and Natural Resource Scarcity within the Context of Climate Variability in West Africa

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Migration – internal and international – is an important feature of the social lives of people across West Africa. While movements within the subregion are generally due to complex and multi-causal factors, natural resource scarcity has served to influence movements especially in rural areas. Drawing from research in rural north-western Benin, this policy brief looks at the effect of migration on the in-land fisheries subsector and emphasizes the need for effective participation of all stakeholders in the management of natural resources to improve livelihoods in the region facing population growth and climate variability.

Policy Brief Series Issue 2: Remittances and disaster: Policy implications for disaster risk management

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Remittances sent to low-income countries have been noticeably increasing, and for the households of these countries, remittances often represent an important source of income. During and after disasters, remittances may become even more important to deal with emergency and recovery needs.

Drawing on a research project based in Samoa and New Zealand, this Brief provides potential policy options to integrate remittances within current disaster risk management practices. This Brief identifies the need to take into account remittance flows when designing and implementing post-disaster interventions as well as some policy measures adopted during disasters that occurred in Samoa and in other countries, and which could be replicated in other comparable settings. This Brief calls for a better understanding of the role and impacts of remittances for both receivers and senders, and also calls for greater collaboration between governments, aid agencies and the private sector.
The release of this issue is timely, considering the wide acknowledgement of increasing importance of remittances in building community resilience and facilitating disaster recovery in the draft document, to be approved at the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (14–18 March 2015).


Policy Brief Series Issue 1: Livelihoods Under Stress: Critical Assets and Mobility Outcomes in the Mekong Delta, Viet Nam

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Global environmental change is one of the most pressing issues of our time, as reflected by the increasing numbers of related policies and interventions. This policy brief seeks to contribute to the discourse with findings and reflections based on empirical research from the Mekong Delta, Viet Nam (Chun, 2014), by advocating for a holistic approach to adaptation and resilience-building; one acknowledging the complex nature of vulnerability and mobility processes and outcomes in contexts of environmental stress.