Migration Scenarios in a Changing Climate: Building Resilient Communities is Needed Now More than Ever

Related Sustainable Development Goals and Global Compact for Migration Objectives

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SDG 13: Climate Action
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gcm 5
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GCM 19
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GCM 22
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On the occasion of the 26th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), the UN Network on Migration urges States to strengthen their commitments and address the reality that people increasingly migrate to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change.

Today, no region is spared from environmental hazards. Sudden- and slow-onset hazards, including extreme heatwaves, flooding, and droughts, will only become more frequent in a warming climate.

Taking ambitious and urgent climate change mitigation and adaptation action and facilitating safe, orderly and regular migration of people affected by climate change, including by enhancing the availability and accessibility of regular migration pathways and ensuring decent work for migrant workers, will be critical. This would help prevent affected people from resorting to precarious or irregular migration, including at the hands of smugglers, while providing greater certainty and predictability for all communities.

Furthermore, community-led inclusive climate adaptation and mitigation measures, enabled by adequate climate finance, will allow affected communities to develop resilience and just transition to a well-being economy and increase the chances that people migrate out of choice, not necessity.

To this end, the Network calls on States to integrate human mobility scenarios in their climate change policies, plans and actions. Key to this will be recognising that the Paris Agreement, the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development are interlinked and provide a mutually reinforcing framework that should be implemented simultaneously. The Network reminds States that any policy measure or legislation that governs or directly affects migration in the context of climate change should remain consistent with their human and labour rights obligations. 

In building national capacities to address migration in this context, the Network calls on governments, civil society and other relevant stakeholders to:

  • Ensure that human mobility scenarios are integrated into national climate change action plans  based on meaningful consultation and a systematic assessment of the impacts of climate change on population movements and migrant populations themselves, ensuring the collection of relevant data disaggregated by age, sex, and migration status among other characteristics;
  • Develop and strengthen integrated, principled and inclusive adaptation and mitigation action and planning to avert, minimise and address the adverse effects of climate change and environmental degradation on local communities, including climate change-related loss and damage, prioritising climate interventions with the largest social, economic, and health gains, while respecting the human and labour rights of migrants;
  • Involve those affected by disasters, climate change and environmental degradation, especially young people who are most likely to move in response to climate-related shocks, in national and local response planning and implementation, and promote their effective and informed participation in related decision-making processes, risk assessment, planning and implementation of human rights-based, decent work-focused, child-sensitive and gender-responsive measures;
  • Facilitate safe, orderly and regular migration by protecting, promoting and fulfilling the rights of migrants and their communities and by enhancing the availability of regular migration pathways via the implementation of the Network guidance;
  • Strengthen services and systems for migrants and take measures to keep essential services running after disasters: Climate resilience and mobility should be included in long-term sector specific strategies, budgets, infrastructures and capacities in order to ensure that key services run without disruption;
  • Prioritise access to sustainable and predictable financial resources for vulnerable countries, including Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States to strengthen their capacity for adaptation to climate change, including by: i) expanding and increasing contributions to the GCM Migration Multi-Partner Trust Fund, and ii) developing and implementing their climate change policies (including National Adaptation Plans and Nationally Determined Contributions);
  • Scale-up action to operationalise recommendations by the Task Force on Displacement under the UNFCCC Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage Associated with Climate Change.

Looking ahead to the first International Migration Review Forum in 2022, which will review the status of implementation of the GCM, including gaps, challenges and emerging issues, the Network stands ready to continue supporting Member States and work with all relevant partners to enhance policy coherence across existing frameworks and to provide coordinated responses to current and future migration in the context of disasters, the adverse effects of climate change and environmental degradation.

Only by ensuring that no one is left behind will we be able to protect the human rights and dignity of migrants, build resilient communities and develop mobility scenarios in the face of these challenges.

The United Nations Network on Migration was established to ensure effective, timely and coordinated system-wide support to Member States in their implementation, follow-up and review of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. While the Network’s mandate is focused on migration, States are called to also implement these recommendations as relevant to displaced persons, refugees and asylum-seekers as well and to protect the human rights of everyone equally, regardless of status.

Read the full statement here.