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Migration as a consequence of land, food and water scarcity (Clingendael Institute review)

In the first months of 2018 three studies recently published by the World Bank (WB),the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) prominently addressed the link between degradation of land, water stress and higher food prices with migration. Whereas academic debate on the contribution of climate change and other environmental stresses to migration is ongoing[1], international organisations published comprehensive reports underlining the need to act now. The FAO and WB shied away from the more politically sensitive issue of irregular migration from Africa to Europe. Neither do the reports quantify to what extent interventions in the sphere of land, food and water could play a role in preventing migration and influence decisions to return.

This Alert reviews these studies, points to their commonalities and differences, the methods used and policy recommendations made. 

World Bank (2018): Groundswell: Preparing for Internal Climate Migration. Rigaud, Kanta Kumari; de Sherbinin, Alex; Jones, Bryan; Bergmann, Jonas; Clement,Viviane; Ober, Kayly; Schewe, Jacob; Adamo, Susana; McCusker, Brent; Heuser, Silke; Midgley, Amelia. World Bank, Washington, DC, United States.

IPBES (2018): Summary for policymakers of the thematic assessment report on land degradation and restoration of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. R. Scholes, L. Montanarella, A. Brainich, N. Barger, B. ten Brink, M. Cantele, B. Erasmus, J. Fisher, T. Gardner, T. G. Holland, F. Kohler, J. S. Kotiaho, G. Von Maltitz, G. Nangendo, R. Pandit, J. Parrotta, M. D. Potts, S. Prince, M. Sankaran and L. Willemen (eds.). IPBES secretariat, Bonn, Germany.

FAO (2018): Water stress and human migration: a global, georeferenced review of empirical research, in Land & Water  Discussion Paper 11. D. J. Wrathall, J. Van Den Hoek, A. Walters and A. Devenish. Oregon State University, Rome, Italy.

About the Clingendael Institute
Clingendael – the Netherlands Institute of International Relations – is a leading think tank and academy on international affairs. Through our analyses, training and public debate we aim to inspire and equip governments, businesses, and civil society in order to contribute to a secure, sustainable and just world.