IOM Calls for Integration of Migration in Environment Policies

Migration and Climate Change

Kenya – Environmental degradation and climate change are already moving millions of people from their homes every year and this trend will intensify without a collective response from the international community.

At the second session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-2) in Nairobi, Kenya, later today (25/05), IOM Director General William Lacy Swing will urge leaders to integrate environmental and migration policies to minimize forced migration and build up the resilience of affected communities.

UNEA is a result of the call made by world leaders at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), held in Brazil in June 2012, to strengthen and upgrade the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) as the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda.

At UNEA-2’s high-level symposium on: Environment and Displacement: Root Causes & Implications, Ambassador Swing will underline the need for better understanding of the complex linkages between migration, displacement, the environment and climate change, and highlight the increasing recognition of this nexus, reflected in the UNFCCC COP21 Paris Agreement signed last December.

“We need to address the root causes of displacement due to environmental factors, and to minimize the negative impacts on affected communities and the environment, through increased collaboration between environmental and humanitarian policy makers,” said Swing.

“Migration is inevitable, necessary and desirable, if well-governed. It is therefore imperative that we respond in a coherent and comprehensive way to meet the challenges posed by current crises in order to make human mobility a positive, informed and safe option for resilience and adaptation that benefits all,” he added.

This evening, Ambassador Swing will participate in UNEA-2 UNPLUGGED – an event on the theme of: Everything’s Connected:  How the Environment Can Transform Lives and Economies. The meeting will be chaired by UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner and other panelists will include former President of Kiribati Anote Tong, whose Pacific island nation is under threat from rising sea levels.

The event will explore how to best address climate change challenges and how to manage the environment for the benefit of all humanity. Planned and dignified migration can be part of the solution and there is a growing body of evidence that migrants and diasporas can contribute to climate change adaptation and poverty reduction.

IOM migration, environment and climate change specialists are playing an active role in in UNEA-2, which runs from 23-27 May.  They spoke on migration, displacement and environment at a related Science-Policy Forum on May 20 and a Media Roundtable on the environment and humanitarian issues on May 25th.

IOM offers a capacity building programme for policy makers and practitioners in countries most vulnerable to climate change, to address the challenges and opportunities posed by environmental degradation, natural disasters and climate change in terms of human mobility. 

You can also find more information on UNEA-2 at:

For further information, please contact Lilian Matama at IOM Nairobi, Tel: +254713601043, Email:

A woman tries to save her possessions in Bangladesh, where environmental degradation and climate change are causing increasingly severe flooding. Photo: IOM / Abir Abdullah 2010