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IOM Publishes Brief on the Interplay Among Migration, Climate Change and Environmental Degradation

© IOM May 2009: The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has issued a policy brief titled “Migration, Climate Change and the Environment,” which presents key information and analysis on the interplay between migration, climate change and environmental degradation.

The policy brief notes that about 200 million people are expected to migrate due to environmental causes by 2050. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recognized in 1990 that one of the worst impacts of climate change could be on human migration. The brief notes the dual relationship and synergies between migration and environment. The brief points out that least developed countries, including small island developing States (SIDS), are the most vulnerable to climate change due to their limited adaptive capacity. It is estimated that 97% of causalities of natural disasters occurs in developing countries and the most affected are often women. The brief argues that although migration is seen as a failure to adapt, migration should be seen as an adaption strategy. The brief also highlights that people who migrate due to environmental reasons are not classified in the existing international legal framework, which often does not recognize environmental or climate change refugees.

The IOM defines environmental migrants as “persons or groups of persons who, predominantly for reasons of sudden or progressive changes in the environment that adversely affect their lives or living conditions, are obliged to leave their homes or choose to do so, either temporarily or permanently, and who move either within their country or abroad.” [IOM Policy Brief][IOM Website on Migration, Climate Change and Environmental Degradation]