UN/ISDR Head Discusses Climate Change and Migration

8 September 2011: The UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UN/ISDR) has released an interview with Margareta Wahlström, Assistant Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, carried out by Eurasylum, on the latest evidence on climate migration.

Eurasylum questioned Wahlström on the predicted number of displacements of people by climate change over the next 40 years, and the evidence and impacts of involuntary migration. She replied that it is not currently possible to accurately predict displacements due to climate change. She indicated that more work is required to clarify the impact of climate change on national economies and communities over time. She also noted the causes for migration are often mixed, and that in isolating one single cause of migration, we are unlikely to put in place the correct mix of mitigation and prevention measures.

Wahlström also stated that migration is caused by economic pressures including “decreasing agricultural yields, for example, due to lack of water; cyclical droughts; capitalization of agricultural assets; lack of national investments in modernizing agricultural processes and general lack sustainability for rural dwellers.” She said climate change can be one of several contributory factors.

Regarding the research and data required to refine the existing evidence base, Wahlström underscored the need for, inter alia: investment in national meteorological and hydrological services; identification of the most vulnerable to climate change impacts and determination of viable responses; and engagement with the local population. Eurasylum is an organization dedicated to issues of immigration control, asylum and refugee policy, border management procedures, passport issuing systems, and human trafficking/smuggling. [UN/ISDR Press Release]