UNITAR Highlights Conditions for “Safe” Climate-Related Migration
January 2010: On the occasion of International Migrants Day, the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) has identified some of the necessary conditions for making migration a safe choice, particularly in light of climate-induced migration. In an opinion piece titled "When the Curtains Close in Copenhagen: Making Migration a Safe Choice," UNITAR highlights that the commitments of the December 2009 Copenhagen Climate Change Conference may have a decisive impact on where people will be able to live in the future and the homes they will have to leave behind.
Noting that the estimates of the number of people that will be forced to move because of climate change vary from several million to more than a billion, UNITAR stresses that in the face of climate change, such movement must be a possibility but must also remain a choice, and points out some of the potential benefits of migration. It highlights that particular attention should be paid to the needs of vulnerable groups such as children, adolescents, women and the elderly, and then identifies some of the necessary conditions for safe migration, such as: the provision of legal migration opportunities, including for those with little or no formal skills or education; the ability for migrants to move in safety and dignity such as by governments endorsing the 1990 International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families; and the option for migrants to stay home safely, for example by ensuring that they are less vulnerable to disaster in the first place, and that they are not stuck when disaster strikes.[UNITAR Op-Ed]