Type of practice:
The practice started under the “Migration, Environment and Climate Change: Evidence for Policy (MECLEP)” project, a three-year project (2014-2016) funded by the European Union and implemented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) through a consortium with six research partners. The project aimed to contribute to the global knowledge base on the relationship between migration and environmental change, including climate change. The innovative research aimed to formulate policy options on how migration can benefit adaptation strategies to environmental and climate change. The initial six project countries were the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Kenya, Mauritius, Papua New Guinea and Viet Nam, in which “Assessing the Evidence: Country Profiles on Migration, Environment and Climate Change” were developed and since then more were added to the practice.
The Country Profiles present an overview of the selected county’s current situation, including available evidence and existing legal and policy frameworks to help provide recommendations to policymakers and practitioners to address migration in the context of disasters, climate change and environmental degradation. The Country Profiles is the first step for addressing the migration, environment and climate change issues in a specific country and seeks to link research and policy in support of the government and communities. The aim of the practice is therefore threefold: i) map the migration, environment, climate change nexus in the selected country by looking at the different and predominant facets of the nexus; ii) examine the existing relevant policy and legal frameworks; and iii) offer guidance in mainstreaming environmental migration in the country’s national planning of different sectors and at different levels.
The exercise is carried out through an extensive literature review of scientific publications that look at the links between migration, displacement, planned relocation, disasters, climate change and environment degradation coupled with consultations and knowledge sharing workshops with the government and other relevant actors in the country. The profiles include:
• Analysis of existing data and research on migration, environment and climate change;
• Data on key migration flows related to environmental changes, including key demographic data;
• An overview of environmental and climate change vulnerabilities, and populations at risk;
• Analysis of the current legal frameworks and policies on migration, environment, climate change, disaster risk reduction and development;
• Recommendations on how to better integrate migration into environmental and climate change policies and plans at national and local levels.
Benefit and Impact
Firstly, the Country Profiles practice is an opportunity to identify and support the country’s most vulnerable populations, who live in areas exposed to the adverse effects of climate change and environmental degradation and are migrating in search of better opportunities or are being compelled to do so. The practice gives a comprehensive perspective of the various natural hazards and risks that affect communities in the country, and it looks at the available evidence that backs up the complex interaction between the environment and climate change and other factors driving migration in the country. The practice also fosters understanding of how migration can be an adaptation strategy to environmental and climate change, and increases knowledge of which vulnerabilities need to be addressed to reduce the risk of displacement and other challenges associated with environmental degradation and disasters.
Secondly, the practice contributes to developing and strengthening the capacities and collaboration of national policymakers and practitioners through the consultations and knowledge sharing workshops build into the development process of the country profiles. The consultations also foster a whole-of-government approach and bring together representatives of ministries in charge of migration matters (e.g. labour, interior, immigration, refugees, etc.) and those in charge of environment, climate change, disaster management, development. In addition, the profiles often lead to specific capacity building training requests on migration, environment and climate change from the government. For example, in developing the Country Profile for Niger (Étude nationale sur le lien entre Migration, Environnement et Changement Climatique au Niger), IOM organized workshops with the Government during and after the development of the study.
Thirdly, the Country Profile is a practical tool in supporting the development of relevant national policies and action plans by providing a set of recommendations that can be scaled up as well as a baseline for evidence-based policymaking and programming. For example, in the case of the “Assessing the Evidence: Climate Change and Migration in Peru” publication, the study contributed to accompany the development process of the Peruvian National Plan of Action on Climate Migration, as requested by the Climate Change Law of 2018.
“Assessing the Evidence: Country Profiles on Migration, Environment and Climate Change” is an ongoing practice that is being replicated by IOM together with governments and partners in all countries of intervention.
A second key lesson learned from the process has been on expecting a very variable availability of evidence on migration in the context of disasters, climate change or environmental degradation in different countries. In certain areas, there may be a limitation of available studies while in others, non-peer reviewed, grey literature dominates. Overcoming this challenge has often required casting a very wide net of research to identify sources of information that would address the migration, environment and climate change nexus from multiple perspectives. This has facilitated the development of a 360-degree angle to the issues, considering its multiple aspects and tailoring the approach to the situation and interests of individual countries.
Recommendations(if the practice is to be replicated)
Secondly, an important factor for success is to streamline information considering the needs of the audience. Country Profiles are typically quite concise documents, providing a succinct picture of the environmental migration realities and policies in a given country. Some exceptions have been developed: for instance, the Peru Assessing the Evidence on Climate Change and Migration publication is a much more developed analysis of 59 documents and a wide range of policies. This can be useful when the practice aims at providing a comprehensive input to policy processes, such as the development of the Peru Plan of Action on Climate Migration.
Finally, it is important to enhance the visibility and dissemination of the final document, whenever possible, in partnership with government counterparts. This gives additional value to the document, which can serve as the basis for new initiatives in the country.