Migration and Climate Change

Migration, climate change and the environment (MECC) are interrelated. Just as environmental degradation and disasters can cause migration, movement of people can also entail significant effects on surrounding ecosystems. This complex nexus needs to be addressed in a holistic manner, taking into account other possible mediating factors including, inter alia, human security, human and economic development, livelihood strategies and conflict.

Migration often seems to be misperceived as a failure to adapt to a changing environment.  Instead, migration can also be an adaptation strategy to climate and environmental change and is an essential component of the socio-environmental interactions that needs to be managed. 

Migration can be a coping mechanism and survival strategy for those who move. At the same time, migration, and mass migration in particular, can also have significant environmental repercussions for areas of origin, areas of destination, and the migratory routes in between and contribute to further environmental degradation.

In the East and Horn of Africa region, environmental considerations play an increasingly important role in migration management and policy-making. Displacements resulting from environmental and climatic changes are predicted to continue and even worsen in the coming years, as the region is highly vulnerable to extreme weather events, with floods and droughts being the greatest hazards.

In this region, IOM will intensify its work to reduce the vulnerability of populations exposed to environmental risk factors (with a focus on the gendered dimension); enhance the resilience of populations on the move such as pastoralists, returnees and IDPs and; build their capacity to protect the environment. IOM will strengthen its support to governments in establishing systems and increasing capacities to manage environmentally induced migration at local, national and regional levels.

IOM will strengthen existing partnerships at the regional level and pursue new partnerships to ensure that migrant’s rights, needs and perspectives are considered in environment and climate change policy and decision-making processes. Strengthened partnerships will also ensure that MECC interventions are better coordinated, more comprehensive and sustainable.