IOM Calls for Accelerated Action on Environmental Migration at the 2021 International Dialogue

New York/Geneva – The first International Dialogue on Migration (IDM) session of 2021 will take place virtually between 25 and 27 May 2021 from 9:00 to 12:00 EST. Building on the 2008 and 2011 IDM meetings, this session focuses on “Accelerating integrated action on sustainable development: migration, the environment and climate change”. This comes at a time of increasing political urgency, and in view of the deep impacts of the COVID-19 health crisis linking climate and migration to current and future development issues.  

Environmental change and disasters have always been major drivers of migration. However, climate change predictions for the 21st century indicate that even more people are expected to be on the move. Extreme weather events such as floods, droughts, and storms, become more frequent and intense, and changes in precipitation and temperature patterns impact livelihoods and human security.  

In 2020, 30.7 million people across 149 countries and territories were displaced in the context of disasters, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre. Looking at the future, World Bank projections indicate an estimated 143 million internal climate migrants by 2050 if no climate action is taken.  

COVID-19-related lockdowns and border closures are also affecting people moving in the context of disasters, climate change and environmental degradation and their ability to access income opportunities. People can become trapped, not being able to flee disasters or return home following a disaster. Those depending on seasonal migration in the agriculture section, pastoralism or remittances are also affected.  

In the 2008 and 2011 IDM meetings, governments and practitioners acknowledged the impacts of the environment on migration, including climate change. They also identified the areas to be addressed, including data and research, policy development and policy coherence, capacity building, and operational responses. Ten years after, in 2021, we are at the moment of accelerating these actions and implementing the commitments made.   

“We owe all those affected our full commitment to implement the principles adopted in the Paris Agreement, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, and the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration,” said the Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), António Vitorino.  

IOM, as the leading intergovernmental organization in the field of migration, 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.  

With this first IDM session of the year, IOM aims to contribute to the political momentum building towards the 26th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP26), taking place in Glasgow in November 2021. The IDM will also contribute to the preparations for the 2022 International Migration Review Forum (IMRF), which will provide an opportunity for the international community – including both states and non-state partners – to reflect on the progress made in strengthening migration governance through the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM).   

The IDM discussions will assess the links among migration, environment, climate change, COVID-19, and the humanitarian, development and peace nexus. The IDM offers a space to promote international as well as regional and local action, and to engage the public and private sectors.   

António Vitorino, the IOM Director General, will open the dialogue jointly with Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, the Prime Minister of Fiji; Nasser Bourita, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the African Cooperation and Moroccans Living Abroad of the Kingdom of Morocco;  Runa Kahn, the Founder and Executive Director of the Friendship NGO, Volkan Bozkir, the President of the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly; Amina J. Mohammed, the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations.

The IDM will benefit from contributions of countries championing action on migration and climate change through the addresses of the Ministers of Bangladesh, Egypt, Morocco, North Macedonia, and the United Kingdom.  

The dialogue will also include the views of governments, experts and practitioners, including senior governmental representatives of Argentina, Burundi, Chile, the European Union, France, Mexico, the Netherlands, Indonesia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sweden, and Tajikistan; senior representatives of UN agencies and conventions –UNFCCC, UN Habitat, UNHCR, UNICEF, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, and WHO–; representatives of the African Development Bank, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, the United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth, and the International Council of Voluntary Agencies; senior academics from University College London, and Georgetown University; as well as diaspora and private sector representatives from Scatec, and Sow Ranch. The event also benefits from support of key IOM partners, including the Platform on Disaster Displacement (PDD), the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) and the Mayors Migration Council (MMC).  

The results and recommendations from this dialogue will be captured in the IDM Red Book, which will be shared broadly with Member States and practitioners worldwide.  


For additional information on the agenda and meeting documents, please check the International Dialogue on Migration webpage here

For more information on IOM’s work on migration, environment and climate change, please visit the IOM Environmental Migration Portal here.

Follow the discussion on social media: #IDM2021 #environmentalmigration #COP26  

For more information, please contact the IDM Workshop team at IOM HQ,  

Tel: +41 227 179535, Email: