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Accelerating integrated action on sustainable development: migration, the environment and climate change

First session of the International Dialogue on Migration  (IDM) 2021. Accelerating integrated action on sustainable development: migration, the environment and climate change 25-27 May 2021, Zoom, 9:00-12:00, New York local time (EST)

Climate change and environmental degradation are profoundly reshaping contemporary migration patterns worldwide in diverse ways. In the context of a changing environment, people engage in different forms of migration within their countries or across borders. These forms of migration exist on a continuum, from displacement to more voluntary forms of migration.

Migration in the context of climate change and environmental degradation is often multicausal and most people migrate due to a combination of social, political, economic and demographic conditions, all of which are and will be affected by climate and environmental change.

Migration in turn can impact the environment and the availability of natural resources. However, migrants can also be actor of the fight against climate change and can contribute to making communities and societies in places of origin and destination more resilient and able to adapt to the negative impacts of environmental and climate change

In 2019, 24.9 million new internal displacements across 140 countries were linked to sudden onset disasters, such as flooding and extreme weather events, according the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC).

Slow onset processes such as desertification, sea level rise and land degradation can also influence directly and indirectly the decision to migrate.

Climate change is expected to increasing frequency, intensity and geographical impacts of these phenomena, and will drive future humanitarian crises and displacement.

  • Looking at the future, some projections indicate that millions more people could be on the move because of the adverse effects of climate change, with an estimated 143 million internal climate migrants by 2050 if no action is taken.

Climate change and environmental degradation will also lead to impoverishment and destitution, resulting in people being unable to leave at-risk areas, thereby creating additional vulnerability for so called “trapped populations”.

Policy advances :  Since 2015, key international commitments of relevance to migration in the context of climate change and environmental degradation have been internationally agreed upon.

The 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development features migration explicitly and seven of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) focus on climate and environmental issues (SDG 6, SDG 7, SDG 11, SDG 12, SDG 13, SDG 14, and SDG 15).

The 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change led to the creation of the UNFCCC Task Force on Displacement and the development of recommendations in 2018 that were a policy milestone.

In 2018, the GCM recognized under its Objective 2 on Minimizing drivers, the significance of “natural disasters, the adverse effects of climate change, and environmental degradation” and the challenges they pose in terms of migration.

The GCM also contains references to “sudden-onset natural disasters, slow-onset environmental degradation” under Objective 5 on Enhancing availability and flexibility of pathways for regular migration.

COVID-19 and the migration, environment and climate change nexus Issues pertaining to the migration, environment and climate change nexus remain underdiscussed in the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing global recovery efforts.

The dialogue will therefore build on discussions and findings from the 2020 IDM session dedicated to “COVID-19 crisis: reimagining the role of migrants and human mobility of the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals”. Recovery efforts should contribute to the transition to a green economy and build climate resilience, create green jobs and support effective climate action and efforts to reach carbon neutrality.

Opportunities should be created so migrants can contribute to and benefit from green recovery efforts. The inclusion of migration health considerations in environmental and climate policies and dialogues could contribute to building health resilience in communities facing adverse effects of environmental and climate change that impacts migration decisions.

This IDM session will also emphasize the linkages between the migration, environment and climate change nexus and migrant health, looking at the connections between SDG 10.7 “facilitate orderly, safe, and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies” and SDG 3.8 “achieve universal health coverage (UHC), including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health care services, and access to safe, effective, quality, and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all”.

The discussion will contribute to global initiatives that promote a sustainable recovery to COVID-19, such as the UN COVID-19 Response and Recovery Multi-Partner Trust Fund, the European Union’s Green Deal and the 2021 United States Leaders’ Climate Summit.

Structure of the IDM session The session will be structured around several areas of focus, including:

1) Accelerating action to address migration and displacement in the context of climate change and environmental degradation, towards the preparations of the 26th UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP26);

2) Understanding the linkages between COVID-19, migrant health and the migration, environment and climate change nexus and promoting the inclusion of the environmental migration dimensions in COVID-19 recovery efforts;

3) Examining the linkages between the Humanitarian, Development, Peace Nexus (HDPN) and the migration, environment and climate change nexus;

4) Developing multi-stakeholder approaches, including with the private sector, to leverage opportunities and support the inclusion of migrants to build a sustainable future;

5) Promoting and supporting regional and local action on migration, environment and climate change.

Relevant Resources:

Panel 1: The Road to COP 26- Accelerating action to address migration and displacement in the context of climate and environmental change

Panel 2: Understanding the linkages between the migration, environment and climate change (MECC) and migration health in the context of COVID-19, and promoting the inclusion of MECC dimensions in COVID-19 recovery efforts

Panel 3: Examining the linkage between Migration, Environment and Climate Change and the Humanitarian, Development, Peace Nexus (HDPN)

Panel 4: Developing multi-stakeholder approaches to leverage opportunities and support the inclusion of migrants and internally displaced people to build a sustainable future

Panel 5: Promoting and supporting local and regional action on migration, environment and climate change

For more information:

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