IOM Council Panel Highlights Migration, Environment, Climate Change Link


Geneva – IOM, the UN Migration Agency yesterday (30/11) held a high-level panel discussion to identify and assess opportunities to address migration and climate change in the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular migration (GCM). The event was convened during the ongoing 108th Session of the IOM Council in Geneva.

IOM Director General, William Lacy Swing moderated the panel which included Nicolas Hulot, France’s Minister for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition; Ambassador Nazhat Shameem Khan, Permanent Representative of Fiji to the United Nations in Geneva and Chief Negotiator for the COP23 Presidency; and Keiko Kiyama, Executive Director of the Japan Platform and Co-President of the Japan Emergency NGO, who represented civil society. Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC and Erik Solheim, Executive Director of UN Environment shared written and video statements, respectively.

In the past 10 years, environmental migration has been primarily acknowledged and addressed at the international level in climate change negotiations. DG Swing highlighted that “the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration offers yet another historical opportunity, this time within the international migration governance policy realm, to recognize the importance of environmental and climate factors.”

Minister Hulot said, “Migration in the context of environment and climate change is a living reality that affects hundreds of thousands of women, men and children, already in a vulnerable situation.” He further underscored that “cooperation among countries of origin, transit and destination is necessary and indispensable.” He pointed out that “countries most vulnerable to climate change are the first to welcome climate migrants and with a solidary spirit. We must also rise up to the challenge.”

Ambassador Khan recalled the results of the Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP23) and highlighted that “in 2018, the second year of our Presidency, Fiji will aim to promote higher ambition and further actions to prevent, minimize and avert the effects of climate change on people (…) including on migration and displacement.”

Both Minister Hulot and Ambassador Khan underscored the need for global policy coherence on addressing climate and migration across agendas, including the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement as well as the forthcoming Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) and the Global Pact for the Environment.

Advances made at the Human Rights Council, the Conference to Combat Desertification and through the Platform on Disaster Displacement should also be built upon. Minister Hulot mentioned that the forthcoming December One Planet Summit convened by French President, Emmanuel Macron will aim to continue and upscale the mobilization of all actors in the fight against climate change and the support to adaptation efforts.

Kiyama called for migrants and potential migrants to be considered as the first stakeholders “tackling root causes requires local knowledge. Since they are the owners of their lives, when they are included in all the phases, the projects will be more efficient and productive, and the result will be to the point and sustainable.”

Moreover, the discussion stressed the positive dimension of migration, as migrants bring skills and knowledge and can be actively involved in climate action.

Some Member States took the floor to once again call for the recognition of environmental and climate risks and impacts on all policy areas. This includes the design of migration policy, in particular in the process of developing the GCM.

IOM has been addressing the nexus of migration, environment and climate change since the 1990s making advances on all fronts: operational response in disaster situations, building capacities of policymakers, facilitating policy dialogue as well as policy development, supporting research and collecting data.

Through this work, IOM aims to minimize forced forms of migration in the context of climate change and disasters, ensure assistance, protection and durable solutions for those affected, and facilitate migration as an adaptation strategy to climate change.

To find out more about IOM’s work on Migration, Environment and Climate Change, visit the Environmental Migration Portal at:

For more information, please contact IOM HQ:
Dina Ionesco, Tel: +41227179481 Email:
Jorge Galindo, Tel: +41227179205, Email:

  • IOM Director General, William Lacy Swing (r) moderated the panel which included Nicolas Hulot, France’s Minister for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition. Photo: IOM