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Issues of climate refugees need urgent attention


Picture source: the guardian

Posted on 13 Jun 2014

Last updated 28 Jun 2014 00:00:00 +0530

  Climate Change, Migration, adaptation

Human mobility in relation to climate change impacts is a reality today. In coming years, migration, displacement and planned relocation will demand larger scale operational planning and action. In response to this need, leading scholars, practitioners and professionals call on countries to feature human mobility in National Adaptation Plans (NAPs).

HNF Correspondent


Climate stressors such as sea-level rise, hurricanes, extreme weather, intensified and more frequent droughts and heat waves mean that more and more people will be uprooted, says the joint policy brief between the United Nations University, Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) and the Nansen Initiative. The report comes at an important time when countries have begun submitting their NAPs for initial feedback, and are preparing for an international climate agreement in Paris 2015.

It's to be noted that the most recent IPCC report has warned that no continent is untouched by climate change impacts.

“For many people around the world, such as those fighting sea level rise in the Pacific island states and those fighting persistent and ever more intense droughts in the Horn of Africa, being compelled to move is no longer a distant reality, it is the reality,” says Dr. Koko Warner, lead researcher at UNU-EHS.

The policy brief illustrates challenges and lessons learned from projects aimed at reducing migration related pressure and displacement in climate vulnerable countries. In the Republic of Kiribati, a low-lying island state in the Pacific region vulnerable to sea level rise and coastal erosion, the government prioritized long-term adaptation strategies that address the impacts of climate change on the mobility of its citizens. In this context Kiribati implemented the “Migration with Dignity” policy, which provides vocational training to citizens to ensure that they can compete in the global labour market.

“It is crucial for countries to develop people centred measures to prevent displacement when possible by providing positive opportunities for adaptation, such as voluntary migration or planned relocation,” says Hannah Entwisle Chapuisat, Research Officer at the Nansen Initiative, suggesting that “By integrating human mobility into NAPs early on, states can enhance climate resilient development by identifying communities at risk of displacement and preparing accordingly.”

The national adaptation planning process provides an opportunity for countries to assess their development needs and climate variability. The integration of migration, displacement and planned relocation into this planning process can help to pre-empt problems arising from the adverse effects of climate change.

“We cannot wait until communities have no option, but to flee. Displacement can erode human welfare and countries must place human mobility prominently in adaptation planning now,” concludes Prof. Walter Kaelin, Envoy of the Chairmanship of the Nansen Initiative.

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