Durban Must Pay Greater Consideration to the Consequences of Climate Change on Migration


IOM Director General William Lacy Swing has addressed high-level
negotiators at the Durban Climate Change Conference to urge them to
pay greater attention to the consequences of climate change on
human mobility.

"The most serious consequence of climate change and
environmental deterioration will most likely be in terms of
population displacement," says Swing. "Whilst we find encouragement
in the 2010 Cancun agreement that includes migration in the context
of climate change vulnerability, the international community is
slow off the blocks to address this major phenomenon. Migration
should not only be a last resort, but rather part of a
comprehensive, coordinated adaptation strategy."

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Climate Change and the Environment

One year after the Cancun agreements, which called on
governments to take action on climate change induced displacement,
migration and planned relocation, little tangible progress has been

"Well planned migration can reduce the risks of forced
displacement," says Swing. "In practical terms, this means adaption
plans, as well as development strategies, should systematically
factor in migration. This is particularly true when planning for
the mass movement of people to cities that are already
environmentally unsustainable."

In his address, IOM Director General underlined the need for
States to have the ability to help and protect affected

"For States, this means having the right institutional, legal,
administrative, financial and operational structures to manage
climate-driven migration."

The 17th Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework
Convention on Climate Change, which runs until 9 December, brings
together negotiators from 195 countries, members of civil society
and international organisations to advance the implementation of
the Convention, the Kyoto Protocol, the 2007 Bali Action and the
Cancun Agreements reached in Mexico in 2010.

It represents a unique forum to underline the following

  • Act before it’s too late: migration should not be the
    solution of last resort.
  • It should be planned and facilitated,
  • The relatively slow onset of environmental changes gives a
    unique opportunity to pro-actively address the migratory
    consequences of climate change,
  • Migration, as a manifestation of an individual’s right to
    development, should remain an informed and safe option.

For further information, please contact:

Bernado Mariano-Joaquim

IOM Pretoria

Tel: +27 82 069 98 88

E-mail: "">


Dina Ionesco

Tel: +41 79 833 64 05

E-mail: "">

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