News

UNU Hosts Environmental Refugee Conference

UN premises at Langer Eugen Bonn 9 October 2008: The UN University (UNU) is hosting the

International Conference on Environment, Forced Migration and Social

Vulnerability, which is taking place in Bonn, Germany, from 9-11 October 2008.

The UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), UN Environment Programme

(UNEP), and International Organization for Migration (IOM) are among the

Conference's organizing partners. Participants have been asked to capture the

current state of research and debate on the issue, and to conclude with

recommendations for moving forward.

Speaking at the Conference, the UNCCD

Secretariat suggested that an international definition of “environmental

refugees” should be agreed upon, because UN treaties recognize only political

refugees as eligible for aid from the UN refugee agency. Coinciding with the

meeting, the UNCCD developed a webpage on desertification and migration. The

page notes that Operational Objective 2 of the ten-year strategy for the UNCCD,

which was adopted in 2008, covers the issue of environment and migration. The

conference will also serve as a platform to introduce the Climate Change,

Environment and Migration Alliance (CCEMA), which was initiated in April 2008

by UNU, IOM, UNEP and the Munich Re Foundation.

This Alliance is a

multi-stakeholder global partnership that aims to mainstream environmental and

climate change considerations into migration management policies and practices,

and to bring migration issues into global environmental and climate change

discourse. UNU Vice-Rector and conference chair Janos Bogardi stressed that

environment and climate change related migration is “a major emerging global

problem” that “represents the most profound expression of the inter-linkage

between the environment and human security.” [International Conference on "Environment,

Forced Migration and Social Vulnerability", Bonn, Germany, 9-11 October

2008] [UNCCD

Statement] [UNCCD

Desertification and Migration webpage] [UNU-EHS Press Release]