Video: Foresight Report on Migration and Global Environmental Change


you miss the momentous report on “Migration and Global Environmental Change” released by the UK’s Government Office

for Science’s Foresight Programme? Have you been living under a rock? No worries. You can read a short summary by the UK’s Government Chief Scientific Adviser John Beddington, or you can catch the video below.

Report: Women Who Go, Women Who Stay: Reactions to Climate Change in Mexico

We’re a little slow on the unveiling of this, but Heinrich Boll Stiftung released a publication in November 2010 on the gendered migration responses of communities in Chiapas called “

_Mexico_Singles.pdf”>Women Who Go, Women Who Stay: Reactions to Climate Change in Mexico.” This is a particularly welcome contribution to the virtually non-existent literature on different migration responses

of men and women. The report found that “most of the men in the case study whose migration is associated with climate change have migrated due to the direct impacts from climate change on agriculture – because they lost their land plots and/or harvests. Meanwhile, most women migrate in response to indirect impacts on the overall economy. Because agriculture is considered to be a man’s activity, and few women work in this area, women migrate primarily in response to the overall depressed economy, which provokes critical losses in their income, mostly in commercial activities. Less participation by women in agriculture is also the reason that, in general, impacts from climate change play a

lesser role in decisions made by women to migrate than those made by men.”

More interestingly, “in the case of married couples, women do not migrate. This is a case of household, not individual, strategies, in which, due to traditional gender roles, men are the ones who must respond to adverse economic impacts from climate change by migrating.” Although, “single mothers are the women most likely to migrate in response to climate change, since they must generate income to maintain their families. The loss of income from economic depression

forces them to migrate in search of work, and the same is true for many young women who provide economic support to their parents.”

From this study, we can see that responses to climate change are very household and community-based. In a livelihoods system like that of Africa, where some 80 percent of agricultural output is led by women, migration might be a much more common response, especially given the migration patterns seen by men/agricultural workers in Mexico. More studies would be needed in each impacted community in order to determine truly the differences in migration for men and women.

For further reference: In 2009, Lori M. Hunter and Emmanuel Davis of the University of Colorado, Boulder wrote a working paper on “Climate Change and Migration: Considering the Gender Dimensions,” where they looked at potential ways in which climate change may differentially shape both migration’s cause and consequence by gender. They used a livelihoods framework, in which they believed there were “two pathways through which climate change’s gendered migration impacts may manifest: 1) shifts in proximate natural resources and agricultural potential, as well as 2) increases in extreme weather events.”

Again, we see that the study of gendered migration is nuanced. Hunter and Davis acknowledge that extreme weather events might impact migration differently for men and women, and not just slow-onset impacts like that of drought, which the Mexico study focuses on.

In sum, there remain more questions than answers. Regardless, both of the studies above should be read and re-read in order to begin to “gain the nuance understanding necessary to inform policy mitigating climate change’s impacts,” as Hunter and Davis write.

Jon Barnett: Climate Adaptation Not Just Building Infrastructure, But Expanding Options


think it’s appropriate to think about [climate change] adaptation or investments in adaptation as investments to open up the range of choices available to people

to deal with

an uncertain future,” said Jon Barnett, associate professor of geography at the University of Melbourne, in an interview with ECSP. “In some circumstances it might be appropriate to build infrastructure and hard options where we’re very certain about the nature of the risk…but in other cases, expanding the range of choices and freedoms and opportunities that people have to deal with climate change in the future is perhaps the better strategy.”

For example, providing education, especially for girls, would allow individuals to better negotiate the world

and labor markets; installing renewable energy systems in areas lacking electricity would greatly expand the choices for remote households; and altering immigration laws would allow more fluid movements of people.

New Report: Climate Change, Migration, and Conflict

The Center for American Progress just released a report on “Climate Change, Migration, and Conflict: Addressing Complex C

risis Scenarios in the 21st Century.” It’s the first ever from the left-leaning think tank on climate and migration. From the summary:

In this paper and the reports to follow, we will discuss regional case studies in which the cumulative effects of climate change, migration, and conflict interact within a broad framework of political, economic, and environmental security challenges. Our objective is to develop a robust contemporary notion of sustainable security that effectively integrates defense, diplomacy, and development into a comprehensive policy designed to deal with today’s global threats while preventing future threats from occurring.

We delve into

these recommendations in detail at the end of this paper but

in this section we briefly explain how we believe the international community, the United States, its allies, and key regional players can together create a sustainable security situation to deal with climate change, migration, and conflict. Specifically they must:

  • Conduct federal government institutional reform in the United States that addresses the development-security relationship and that prioritizes planning for long-term humanitarian consequences of climate change and migration as a core national security issue
  • Develop strategies to strengthen intergovernmental cooperation on transboundary risks in different regions of the world
  • Increase funding for the Global Climate Change Initiative
  • Ensure better information flows and more effective disaster response for early-warning systems
  • Support the best science to expand our understanding of specific circumstances such as desertification, rainfall variability, disaster occurrence, and coastal erosion, and their relation to human migration and conflict
  • Identify regions most vulnerable to climate-induced migration, both forced and voluntary, in order to target aid, information, and contingency-planning capabilities
  • View migration as a proactive adaptation strategy for local populations under pressure due to increased environmental change

A truly sustainable approach to security, then, requires us not only to look at the traditional security threats posed by the interaction between states, but also to understand that the security of the United States is advanced by promoting the individual well-being of people across the developing world, and by embracing collective responses to shared threats posed by climate change. We turn first to understanding the dynamics of those threats.

Read the report in its entirety here.

You can also watch the complementary video with Koko Warner of the United Nations University, U.K. Climate and Energy Security Envoy Rear Admiral Neal Morisetti, Anne-Marie Slaughter, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, and Senior Fellow Michael Werz of the Center for American Progress here:

New Study: "Climate Refugees" Legal and Policy Responses to Environmentally Induced Migration

The European Parliament’s Policy Department of Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs has put

out a study on “Climate Refugees: ” Legal

and Policy Responses to Environmentally Induced Migration. This is a welcome addition to the already rife discourse on potential legal and policy responses for environmentally-induced migrants. Specifically, according to the abstract, the study “sets out to examine the legal and policy aspects of climate and environmental related displacement. It assesses to what extent the current EU framework for immigration and asylum in general and the specific instruments in regard to asylum in particular already offer adequate response to climate induced displacement and how the legal framework could evolve in order to provide an improved response to the phenomenon of environmentally induced migration. The study also clarifies in which way such a modified legal framework can be rooted in the Lisbon Treaty including the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.”

A brief overview of the effects of climate change and the environment on

migration opens the study, but the real meat comes in at page 36 when legal and policy implications are discussed. In sum, they suggest the European Union become a leader in determining solutions.

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News: Preparation for Climate Displacement Too Slow, Experts Say

(AlertNet) December 5, 2011 – Climate impacts such as worsening droughts, flooding, storm surges and sea level rise could displace tens of mill

ions of people by mid-century, scientists predict. But national and international rules governing resettlement of forced environmental migrants, and how they will be treated under the law, remain at a worryingly early stage, migration experts said at the U.N. climate talks in Durban.

“This risk, while recognised, has been inadequately dealt with by the international community,” admitted John Crowley, who heads the ethics of science and technology section at UNESCO, the body that currently chairs the Global Migration Group, a U.N. interagency group on migration issues.

Under today’s international law, “climate refugees” as a category are not formally recognised, and as such they have no right to asylum or other assistance. But an agreement at the U.N. climate summit in Cancun last year for the first time urged countries to accept that “climate change-induced displacement, migration and planned relocation” should be considered in plans to adapt to climate change.

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