Migration and displacement: policy options for Para 4(f) in the AWG-LCA text (UNU and partners)
United Nations University (UNU)
During the side event on migration and displacement, comprehensive discussion on climate change-induced migration and displacement took place in relation to the capacity of vulnerable populations to adapt. Since the impacts of climate change leads to loss of livelihoods, poverty aggravation forces populations to migrate. UNU representative state that shifting to other sources of livelihood upon the anthropogenic and natural degradation of the traditional one, causes further destruction of the ecosystem. Hence numerous conflicts arise out of the recurring environmental changes and pressure.
Several factors play a role in the environmentally induced migration decision such as profession (mainly farmers and cattle herders), attachment, (land ownership, family, history), cultural issues (language), financial means, alternative livelihoods in other villages/regions and attraction factors in villages/regions/countries of destination. However, a number of sectors particularly women, children and elderly are marginalised in the process. This holds true especially in the adaptation and challenges strategies. To make it worse, migration and environmental degradation consistently goes through a vicious cycle. Trend wise, research has shown a shift from seasonal migration towards permanent migration. Apart from this, cross border migration is becoming more and more common compared to internal migration.
Case studies on selected vulnerable countries were likewise presented. Worth mentioning is the drought prone country of Nigeria which is exposed to climate change-induced impacts through decrease of rainfall and changes in rainfall variability and distribution, potentially increase of droughts in terms of extent and frequency). Aggravating the situation is the higher population pressure leading to less viable land productivity.
In order to address potential conflicts, vulnerability and migration patterns due to environmental degradation and water crisis must be assessed. In addition, a clear distinction between environmentally-induced and economic-induced migration should also be made. In conclusion, further efforts to support communities not to move out will be an effective strategy to manage the risks associated to migration. Therefore, migration should be the last resort!