Policy Dialogue

IOM seeks to develop and facilitate better understanding and greater coherence in policy and programmes related to climate change, environment and migration. To this end, IOM provides a forum for policy dialogue through the International Dialogue on Migration (IDM) and, in cooperation with relevant partners, frequently organizes and participates in seminars and conferences on the issue.

IOM and its partners also strive to draw attention to the migration consequences of climate change in global negotiations on climate change: read more on IOM's involvement in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change process.


Policy Dialogues on Climate-induced Migration in Asia and the Pacific

In June 2011, IOM partnered with the Asian Development Bank to host and organize two policy dialogues on climate change and migration in Asia and the Pacific. The dialogues took place in Geneva and Bangkok and provided major input to ADB policy recommendations related to the economic and sociopolitical consequences of climate-induced migration movements. The ADB project also analyzes the feasibility of a financing facility to address climate induced migration. The dialogues brought together policymakers, practitioners, and scholars to identify research needs, policy gaps and challenges that need to be addressed in Asia and the Pacific.

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International Dialogue on Migration on Climate Change, Environmental Degradation and Migration

In March 2011, a workshop on "Climate Change, Environmental Degradation and Migration" was held as part of IOM's annual International Dialogue on Migration, as selected by the IOM membership. The workshop brought together policymakers for an exchange of experiences of and responses to the realities of environmentally-induced movements in their respective societies. Participants identified effective practices for minimizing vulnerability and discussed different dimensions of capacity building required to manage the multifaceted impact of climate change and environmental degradation on human mobility.

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Chair's Summary
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Policy Dialogue on Environment, Climate Change and Migration in Bangladesh

The IOM policy dialogue on environment, climate change and migration in Bangladesh – organized in partnership with the BRAC Development Institute (BDI) - took place in Dhaka on 23 May 2010. Bangladesh is already experiencing the growing phenomenon of environmental migration, with rural-urban migration increasing manifold leading to rapid and unplanned urbanization in city centres such as Dhaka. Whether migration is used as an adaptive strategy or as a last resort to cope with sudden onset disasters, it is important to ensure that it takes place in an orderly and planned fashion. Far from being passive in the face of these challenges, Bangladesh is in a position to respond proactively to minimize the risks and maximize the benefits of environmentally induced migration. As IOM's recent experience in areas affected by the hurricane Aila has shown, while disaster risk reduction and post-disaster response have improved significantly over recent decades, much more can still be done. Most importantly, there is scope not only for actions aimed at minimizing displacement and providing protection and assistance to those affected, but also policies and programmes that facilitate voluntary migration from environmentally vulnerable or degraded regions as a positive livelihood and adaptation strategy. The aim of the event was to contribute to the debate on the environment, climate change and migration nexus in Bangladesh and to encourage dialogue among government, civil society and development partners on key issues and potential policy options for going forward in this area.

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Conference Outcome

Seminar on Environmental Migration and Climate Change

As part of the Migration and Development Series, IOM, UNITAR, UNFPA and the MacArthur Foundation will hold a seminar entitled "Environment Migration and Climate Change" at UNHQ in New York on 20 April 2010. As the number of extreme weather events has doubled over the past 20 years, from 200 to more than 400 a year, this seminar will look holistically at the role of sudden-onset disasters (storms, floods) as well as slow-onset environmental changes (desertification, droughts, land degradation, water scarcity) in propelling both internal and international migration. Spanning the responsibilities of a range of actors and fields of intervention– from humanitarian assistance and disaster preparedness to climate change adaptation and sustainable development– the linkages between migration and the environment need to be better understood and mainstreamed into existing assessment and strategic planning tools.

Beyond speculative and sometimes alarmist scenarios of mass movements due to climate change, this one-day seminar aims to present a nuanced picture of the interrelations between migratory decisions and environmental degradation, and to raise awareness of the international legal instruments and policy tools that exist and will be needed to address the challenges posed by disaster displacement and environmentally driven migration.

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Workshop on Climate Change, Environmental Degradation and Migration: Preparing for the Future

As part of the Migration and Development Series, this two-day workshop was organized in New York on 8-9 May, 2008 by IOM, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research and UNFPA and sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation. The first day was dedicated to an expert meeting which explored, inter alia, the need to develop a common terminology and research agenda, as well as ways to design comprehensive policy approaches to migration and the environment. The outcomes of the expert group meeting fed into the discussions on the second day of the workshop, which brought together government officials as well as the representatives of international, non-governmental organizations and academia.

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Conference Report

Research Workshop on Migration and the Environment: Developing a Global Research Agenda

To address the existing research gaps, IOM and UNU, in collaboration with UNEP and with the support of the Munich Re Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation organized a research workshop on 16-18 April 2008 in Munich, Germany. The event brought together distinguished scholars and experts on the subject of migration and environment from different regions of the world. The main objectives of this meeting included defining the priorities for future policy-oriented research on the subject of environmental change and migration; developing a framework for a global research agenda; and identifying ways in which this agenda could be carried forward.  The experts agreed that there is a need for an interdisciplinary global research programme based on a common research design and a review of the existing research on migration and the environment, which would examine the links between both gradual environmental change and migration, and extreme environmental events and migration. One of the key messages of the workshop was that there is now a window of opportunity for further research and policy initiatives on migration and the environment.

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Conference Report

Conference on Climate Change, Environmental Degradation and Migration: Addressing Vulnerabilities and Harnessing Opportunities

The Greek Government in its capacity of Chair of the Human Security Network together with IOM organized a joint Conference which took place in Geneva on 19 February 2008. The half-day event brought together experts and representatives from various fields and backgrounds, including governments, international organizations, NGOs, and the press. The overall objective of the Conference was to increase political and public awareness of the risks of climate change, environmental degradation and migration to human security and the need for further research and concerted action in this area. It highlighted the need to provide targeted support to the most vulnerable countries through capacity building and partnerships aimed at improving the ability of these States to cope with threats and challenges posed by climate change was highlighted.

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Conference Report:
English, French and Spanish


Expert Seminar on Migration and the Environment

As part of the International Dialogue on Migration, IOM and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) co-sponsored a two-day expert workshop on Migration and the Environment in Bangkok, Thailand, on 22-23 February 2007. The seminar brought together experts from various constituencies working in the spheres of migration and the environment, including from governments, non-governmental organizations and academia. It explored the two-way association between migration and the environment as well as their interaction with human security. Its key objectives were to raise the understanding of the issues at hand, to identify the main obstacles for policymakers and practitioners to more effective management of the interrelationship between migration and the environment, and to contribute to a more comprehensive research and policy agenda in this area.

Conference Report:
English, French and Spanish