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New Data Brings New Answers on Climate Migration

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Experts Set Out Latest Advances in Bonn

Bonn, May 19 2016 – The measurable impacts of climate change hold great potential to affect the people who live on this planet. From drought to fire to rising seas to extreme weather events, physical climate impacts also hit entire communities. Recent news on mass human movements has put this trend sharply into focus but measuring and assessing the impact and the individual motivations behind migration accurately and in a balanced way remains critical to any long-term successful response.

But data on the problem has made leaps and bounds and this was what presented during the latest UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn by a group of experts on human migration presented key findings about the link between climate change and migration. At the event “Human Mobility and the Paris Agreement: What’s Next?”, speakers from the University of Liège, the International Organization for Migration and the UN University highlighted the importance of reliable data, able to measure climate migration.

With adaptation to climate change recognized as a crucial part of climate action in last year’s Paris Agreement, minimizing these human impacts presents a challenge to governments acting to fulfill their contributions to the agreement.

Various and diverse forms of migration make it difficult to determine exactly why people move. Some displacement is forced, others choose to migrate. Some movement can be directly linked to climate impacts but it is not always clear what role climate plays, if any. Droughts, floods and hazardous weather events often displace people and are sometimes caused or exacerbated by climate change. Slow onset climate impacts such as sea level rise and drought can force people from their homes over time. Secondary effects from climate change, such as conflict or resource scarcity, are not so easy to define yet can trigger mass migration.

For many families, migration can be a conscious choice to adapt to climate change simply by moving to another place to avoid impacts and the panel pointed out that natural resources, food security, drinking water and energy supply are likely to become even more scarce in the future, forcing even more people into difficult choices. The panel stressed that this is not just an issue for the developing world, and that displacement happens everywhere.

(Graphic – internal displacement monitoring centre iDMC and Norwegian Refugee Council)

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