Migration, Environment and Climate Change (MECC) Division

The International Organization for Migration (IOM), as the leading intergovernmental migration agency, has been at the forefront of operational, research, policy and advocacy efforts, seeking to bring environmental migration to the heart of international, regional and national concerns in collaboration with its Member States, observers and partners.

IOM’s Mandate

Since 2007, member states requested IOM within its governing bodies to work on migration, environment and climate change. At the beginning of 2015, a dedicated Migration, Environment and Climate Change (MECC) Division was created to address the migration, environment and climate nexus. This institutional change has formalized IOM’s engagement in this thematic area, making IOM the first international organization to have established an institutional unit fully devoted to this topic. The Migration, Environment and Climate Change Division, within the Department of Migration Management has the institutional responsibility to oversee, support and coordinate the development of policy guidance for activities with a migration, environment and climate change dimension.

IOM’s Vision

IOM recognizes the necessity to step up national, regional and international efforts to address human mobility challenges associated with environmental factors and climate change. IOM’s vision on migration, environment and climate change is that contemporary migration governance, policy and practice must reflect the significance of environmental, disaster and climate change factors on human mobility. Environmental factors must be integrated across all areas of migration management, such as: prevention, preparedness and response to displacement, border management, labour migration and integration, and return and reintegration.

IOM’s Objectives

IOM’s objectives concerning migration, environment and climate change are:

  • To prevent forced migration that results from environmental factors to the extent possible;
  • To provide assistance and protection to affected populations when forced migration does occur in situations of environmental and climate change, and to seek durable solutions to their situation;
  •  To facilitate migration in the context of climate change adaptation and enhance the resilience of affected communities.

Sustainable development is recognized as an integral part of this approach, implemented through disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation and environmental sustainability measures.

IOM’s Activities

IOM engages in policy work and advocacy, research, capacity building, and operational activities in the area of migration, environment and climate change in collaboration with IOM Member States, observers and partners.

Policy

IOM supports international policy, advocating for the recognition of the migration, environment and climate change nexus in key global and regional policy processes. IOM also supports State-led efforts to develop specific solutions to address these complex challenges at the national level.

Research

IOM has been conducting research in the area of migration, environment and climate change since the early 1990s to support the development of evidence-based policy and practice. IOM regularly publishes reports on migration, environment and climate change, and makes the latest international research on this topic available through the Environmental Migration Portal’s Research Database and Policy Brief series.

Building Capacities to Address Environmental Migration

IOM’s capacity building programme for policy makers on migration, environment and climate change focuses on enhancing the understanding of the complex issue of managing migration in the context of climate and environmental change; and linking the many policy areas that are relevant to addressing environmental migration, including migration, climate change adaptation, environment, development, security and disaster risk reduction. Trainings are aimed to build capacity of national, regional and international policy makers and practitioners. IOM also engages in awareness raising and communications for general public through a variety of communication channels on social and traditional media.

Operational Activities

Since 1998, more than 1,000 projects have been funded and implemented worldwide by IOM to respond to and address environmental migration and disaster displacement, demonstrating that creative solutions exist for communities affected by disasters, environmental degradation and climate change, and that migration does not have to be a “last resort” solution but can also be a positive driver for change.

Environmental Sustainability

In 2017, IOM launched its Environmental Sustainability Programme (ESP) with the objective of mainstreaming environmental sustainability principles into the Organization’s policies, strategies, programmes and projects, operations and facilities. The Programme is hosted in the Migration, Environment and Climate Change Division in the Department of Migration Management, and coordinates organization-wide efforts in close cooperation with the Office of the Director General and other relevant stakeholders. The aim of the ESP is to ensure that IOM’s efforts in this cross-cutting area are in line with the commitments and standards of the United Nations, both through the development of internal policies and practices, and by stepping up its engagement with global initiatives.

IOM’s Partnerships

IOM is committed to close collaboration with all relevant stakeholders to develop comprehensive strategies to better manage climate and environment induced migration, to address its challenges and to take advantage of the opportunities it presents. IOM partners with stakeholders including governmental institutions, UN agencies, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s), academic institutions and private sector institutions in support of its research, policy and operational objectives.

Gender

IOM recognizes gender as a cross-cutting issue which needs to be integrated in policies and operations at all levels. Within its range of activities, IOM’s MECC Division has looked closely at the intersection between gender, migration, the environment and climate change and at the implications of this nexus on climate change adaptation, community resilience, disaster preparedness and response, data collection and analysis, food security and sustainable development. In line with IOM’s mandate and with international commitments, the Division is working together with the IOM Gender Unit and other IOM Divisions as well as partners to develop research and evidence on the topic of MECC and gender, promote gender equally in MECC-relevant policy work, as well as to design and implement gender-sensitive MECC projects around the world.

Contact us

For further information, please contact:
Migration, Environment and Climate Change Division
Department for Migration Management
International Organization for Migration (IOM) Headquarters
Geneva, Switzerland

Dina Ionesco
Head of Division - Migration, Environment and Climate Change (MECC)
Email: dionesco@iom.int
Division Email: mecchq@iom.int

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