Climate Change, Migration and Critical International Security Considerations

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This report reviews the available scholarly reporting on climate change, migration and security and describes the legal and policy challenges facing the international community. While there is indeed considerable evidence that climate does influence migration, future estimates are hampered by a lack of reliable data. Climate-related migration is closely connected to the social, economic, cultural and institutional processes that shape the vulnerability and adaptive capacity of exposed populations. Conflict may potentially emerge in situations of resource scarcity and resource abundance, but in most cases there will be opportunities for intervention before violence occurs. Most climate change-driven migration is likely to occur with countries and regions, although there will be increased international movements along established migrant networks. To avoid large-scale distress migrations, the report outlines priority actions for policymakers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, enhance adaptive capacity in vulnerable regions, and provide assistance to those displaced.




The Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada is acknowledged for its support of much of the research that went into this report. Jessica Boyle of the International Institute for Sustainable Development provided helpful comments on an early draft of this report. Thanks and appreciation are also given for the assistance of the publications staff of IOM. Readers of the present study are strongly encouraged to read IOM’s 2010 annual report, which contains detailed suggestions on enhancing research and programming on environmental migration.


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