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Environmental Migration Portal: Knowledge Platform on People on the Move in a Changing Climate

Primary GCM Objectives

GCM Guiding Principles*

*All practices are to uphold the ten guiding principles of the GCM. This practice particularly exemplifies these listed principles.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)


2015 - Present

Type of practice


Geographic scope

Geographic Scope:



The Environmental Migration Portal was developed in 2015 within the framework of the European Union-funded and IOM-led project “Migration, Environment and Climate Change: Evidence for Policy (MECLEP).” and has been revamped in 2019 and 2022 following the major policy developments. The Environmental Migration Portal is a unique source of information in the UN system and is still the only one of its kind at global level. Is an online knowledge sharing platform on migration, environment, climate change and disaster risk reduction that provides up-to-date information on key policy processes and developments, capacity building efforts, research and publications, and operational projects addressing the migration, environment, climate change and disaster risk reduction (MECR) nexus. The Portal highlights IOM’s efforts, including with partners, as both parties work together towards addressing one of the biggest challenges of our times, migration in the context of climate change, environmental degradation and disasters. As an evolving online information and knowledge sharing platform, the Environmental Migration Portal is a one-stop service website to promote new research, information exchange and dialogue, intended to fill the existing data, research and knowledge gaps on the migration, environment, climate change and disaster risk reduction nexus. The Portal aims to: (1) centralize relevant and up-to-date research, data, and information on migration, environment, climate change and disaster risk reduction; (2) provide information on recent activities of IOM, including with its partners, in addressing migration in the context of disaster, climate change and environmental degradation; (3) communicate on the links between migration, environment, climate change, disaster risk reduction and advocate for solutions for environmental migrants. The target audiences for the Portal are: - IOM Member States representatives - United Nations practitioners, including IOM staff - Academia and researchers  - Media and communication outlets - Private sector partners  - General public sensitive to issues of migration governance, climate change action, environmental protection, disaster risk reduction, refugee protection, humanitarian action and human rights

Benefit and Impact

The Environmental Migration Portal showcases information from a very diverse but interconnected level. It goes from a policy focus to on operational one, highlights the global work on the topic including through publications and the regional, national and local work. The Portal dedicates its space to advertise events, highlights communication campaigns, news, videos, podcasts, blogs. It describes capacity building events among many others.

Centralized Information: The Portal serves as a one-stop service website that centralizes relevant and up-to-date research, data, and information on migration, environment, climate change and disaster risk reduction. It helps policymakers, researchers, and practitioners access comprehensive and reliable resources on the MECR nexus.

Knowledge Sharing: As an evolving online platform, the Portal promotes knowledge sharing and information exchange. It bridges existing data and research gaps by disseminating the latest findings and policy developments related to environmental migration.

Policy Support: The Portal provides valuable insights into key policy processes and developments concerning the MECR nexus. It supports policymakers, including IOM Member States representatives and United Nations practitioners, in formulating evidence-based and effective policies.

Showcasing IOM Efforts: The Portal highlights IOM's efforts, both independently and in collaboration with partners, to address the challenges of migration in the context of environmental degradation, climate change and disasters. It offers visibility to operational projects and capacity-building efforts undertaken by IOM.

Facilitating Collaboration: The Portal serves as a platform for stakeholders from various sectors to come together and collaborate on MECR issues. It fosters partnerships between researchers, policymakers, and practitioners, promoting a holistic approach to address the challenges posed by climate-induced migration.

Timely Updates: With its focus on up-to-date information, the Portal keeps users informed about the latest developments and initiatives in the field of environmental migration. This ensures that stakeholders stay current with the evolving dynamics of the MECR nexus.

Key Lessons

The Environmental Migration Portal was designed to be an online global platform for the topic but many challenges have been encountered on the way in covering all the related information. The Portal is being managed from a team located in the same country and there are many obstacles in coordinating with all countries, all regions to ensure we extract all related information on migration, environment, climate change and disaster risk reduction (MECR) nexus that is going on at that level.

Climate Change Accelerates Migration: Climate change is a significant driver of migration, with extreme weather events becoming more frequent and intense.

Lack of Consensus on Terminology: There is no universally accepted legal definition for environmental migration, resulting in various terms like climate migration, planned relocation, and disaster displacement. The lack of a standardized definition creates challenges for policy and legal frameworks.

Complexity of Environmental Migration: Environmental migration takes multiple forms, including forced and voluntary, temporary and permanent, internal and international, individual and collective, and of various distances. The context, duration, and scale of migration depend on slow-onset and sudden-onset events and their interactions with other factors.

Avoidance of Misleading Terms: Terms like "climate refugee" or "environmental refugee" lack legal basis and may undermine existing international refugee protection frameworks. The use of such terms is discouraged by concerned agencies, including IOM and UNHCR.

Human Rights Protection: Regardless of the terminology, all persons moving due to environmental drivers are protected by international human rights law. Focus on Vulnerability: While migration is one aspect of environmental change, addressing the needs of vulnerable populations who cannot or choose not to move (trapped populations) is equally important. Poverty, lack of resources, disability, and cultural attachment can prevent people from relocating despite environmental threats.

Recommendations(if the practice is to be replicated)

Developing an online global platform requires a certain a few general recommendations to be considered from the very beginning:

The 2018 Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration acknowledges the reality of migration due to environmental drivers and commits to supporting both migrants and affected states. Despite lacking a universally accepted legal definition, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) proposed a broad definition for environmental migration, recognizing its diverse forms and causes.

"Climate migration" is a subcategory of environmental migration, specifically referring to movements triggered by sudden or progressive environmental changes due to climate change. Other terms like "planned relocation" and "disaster displacement" focus on specific types of movements in the context of environmental degradation or natural hazards.

The term "human mobility" encompasses all forms of movement, including displacement, migration, and planned relocation due to environmental drivers. While terms like "climate refugee" and "environmental refugee" are often used to draw attention to the issue, they have no legal basis and might undermine the existing international legal framework for refugee protection. Instead, all persons moving due to environmental drivers are protected by international human rights law, and those displaced within their country due to disasters are covered by the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement.

It is crucial to center responses to environmental migration around the concept of vulnerability. "Trapped populations" are groups who face threats but are unable or choose not to move due to various reasons like lack of resources, disability, cultural attachment, or gender-related issues. Addressing the needs of trapped populations is equally important in climate-induced migration.

To address these challenges effectively, international cooperation, policy frameworks, and support systems need to be strengthened. Efforts should focus on enhancing resilience, promoting sustainable development, providing assistance and protection to migrants, and addressing the root causes of environmental degradation and climate change.


The Environmental Migration Portal is the first-ever online global platform solely focusing on the migration-environment nexus. It showcases over 200 IOM publications and an extensive Research Database with more than 600 publications on the topic. The Portal continuously adapts to new topics and information related to migration, environment, climate change and disaster risk reduction nexus. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Portal adapted and provided relevant information of the ongoing sanitarian global situation by developing an entire policy section on the nexus between migration, environment, climate change and health and by introducing a new blog series initiative on “The COVID-19 Pandemic, Migration and the Environment” with 23 pieces on the topic in collaboration with researchers and practitioners. The aim of this series was to identify migration and environmental issues that are relevant to the COVID-19 crisis, as well as related lessons learned, approaches and recommendations that can help shape policy, operations and research on this and future pandemics, their direct and indirect impacts and mobility implications. At the same time, the Portal opens a blog space for youth to raise their voice and share related lessons learned, approaches and recommendations that can help shape policy, operations and research on the youth, migration, environment, climate change and disaster risk reduction nexus and its intersection with current and future crisis events.

Date submitted:

29 September 2023

Disclaimer: The content of this practice reflects the views of the implementers and does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations, the United Nations Network on Migration, and its members.



*References to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of United Nations Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).