Human Mobility at COP26

COP26 is the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties and is hosted by the United Kingdom in partnership with Italy. COP26 was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and it is now scheduled to take place in Glasgow, from 1 to 12 November 2021.

Climate Migration at COP26

What is happening at COP26?

COP26 represents a key political moment for states to reaffirm their ambition to fully operationalize the 2015 Paris Agreement. One major development is linked to states submitting new and updated national climate action plans (NAPs, NDCs). Parties are expected to put forward revised NDCs, containing details of climate change mitigation and adaptation action ahead of COP26. This is also the first COP following the USA re-joining the Convention, which is expected to create a positive political momentum to support the implementation of the Paris Agreement.
The COP26 UK Presidency has defined four goals for COP26:
  1. Secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach
  2. Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats
  3. Mobilize finance to reach the commitment of $100bn in climate finance per year
  4. Work together to deliver and finalize the Paris Rulebook and accelerate action to tackle the climate crisis through collaboration between governments, businesses and civil society.

What is at stake in terms of climate migration?

Enhancing visibility on human mobility with UNFCCC Parties supported by climate science  
As in previous years, COP26 represents the opportunity to bring visibility to the climate migration nexus and advance discussions on the topic within the main intergovernmental forum dedicated to climate change policy and action. 
In the last decade, issues of migration and human mobility have increasingly been considered within the work of the UNFCCC and the annual COP meetings - with IOM’s active involvement - and they are now fully institutionalized with dedicated work streams under the UNFCCC, such as the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage Associated with Climate Change Impacts (WIM).
The relevance of the climate-migration nexus is confirmed by contemporary climate science. For instance, the last three reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) make extensive and alarming references to the impacts of climate change on migration (IPCC Oceans and Cryosphere, IPCC Land Report and the IPCC 1.5-Degree C Special Report). 
The reports show that land degradation is already negatively impacting the livelihoods and well-being of at least 3.2 billion people, while sea level rise, associated with a 2°C warmer world, could submerge the homelands of 280 million people by the end of this century across the world – this could be reduced in a 1.5°C scenario. It is today widely recognized that environmental migration is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon that can amplify existing vulnerabilities, but also allow people to build resilience. There is now increasing awareness that migration policy options should also be considered to tackle this issue. 
IOM is an Observer to IPCC and to WMO and has contributed with inputs to the IPCC reports, and contributes every year to the WMO Global and Regional State of climate reports. 
Building support for the operationalization of the Recommendations of the Task Force on Displacement   
After the establishment of the Task Force on Displacement in 2016 under the WIM, states adopted at COP24 in 2018 the recommendations made by the Task Force (Decision 10/CP.24) and the mandate of the Task Force was renewed. The Task Force developed a new workplan (Workplan Phase 2), with the extensive support of IOM. Carrying over these commitments will be an important engagement for the Parties of the WIM Executive Committee. 
The main entry points for IOM’s engagement at the moment are the work conducted under strategic workstream (d) of the five-year workplan of the WIM/Excom on enhancing cooperation and facilitation in relation to human mobility, and the work of the Task Force on Displacement. IOM is a founding member of the Task Force on Displacement. Ensuring coherence between the new workstream on migration and climate change of the UNNM and the implementation of the TFD recommendations is important for IOM’s engagement.
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