UN Migration Director General Attends UN Climate Change Conference

Bonn – UN Migration Director General William Lacy Swing yesterday (15/11) participated in the high-level segment of the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany, alongside Heads of State and other dignitaries.

Speaking at the event UN Coherence: Low-Emission and Climate Resilient Development at National Level, organized by the COP Presidency, DG Swing said, “Contemporary migration policy and practice can no longer be shaped as ten or even five years ago – this is because we cannot afford to ignore the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation on migration.”

He added, “I do believe that the global compact for safe, regular and orderly migration, that will be negotiated next year in New York, is our historical opportunity to ensure that climate change drivers of migration are considered in the global governance of migration.”

In Bonn, DG Swing also met with Environment Ministers from Gambia, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Chad to discuss migrant reintegration and land rehabilitation. The meeting was convened by Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), and co-chaired by Batio Bassiere, Minister of Environment of Burkina Faso.

Also discussed was the concept of ‘green returns’, a new approach toward assisted voluntary return and reintegration (AVRR) programmes that proposes job opportunities for returnees linked to climate adaptation. IOM launched and actively promotes green returns and will develop related Guidelines and Standard Operating Procedures through a project funded by France, and in collaboration with UNCCD.

Two years after the Paris Agreement was signed, this year’s conference gathers leaders of national governments, cities, states, private sector, NGOs and civil society to speed up climate action to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement. The COP is organized by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The Conference also provides an opportunity for IOM to assert its objectives regarding the relationship between the environment, climate change and migration. It is also an opportunity to share examples of how policy work comes into action at the national level, namely:

Successful national climate mitigation and adaptation measures allow people to remain in their homes;
Humanitarian responses protect people displaced by the adverse impacts of climate change;
Migrants can reintegrate back home with sustainable green jobs, while diaspora communities transfer technology and skills into climate projects in their countries of origin;
Countries can adopt migration policies that offer regular and dignified migration options, in response to the adverse impacts of climate change.

For more information, please contact:

Dina Ionesco, IOM HQ, Tel: +41 79 859 19 17, Email:

Mariam Traore Chazalnoel, IOM NY, Tel: +1 929 343 6001, Email:

Jorge Galindo, IOM HQ, Tel: +41227179205, Email: