Migration, Environment and Climate Change
IOM's engagement on migration, climate change and the environment is long established. In recent years, there has been a growing recognition that climate- and environment-induced migration is likely to become one of the key challenges of the 21st century, which must be addressed to ensure human security and sustainable development. Meeting this challenge requires a comprehensive and proactive approach, which should include research, policy and programmatic activities. As the world's leading migration agency, IOM is committed to building on its existing programmes, experience and global network to make a meaningful contribution to the development of such an approach.
IOM strives to ensure adequate assistance to and protection of people affected by climate change, including people on the move as a result of environmental factors. It also works to ensure that migration is recognized and used as one possible adaptation strategy.
Given the complexity of the relationship between environmental factors and the movement of people, evidence on how the shocks and stresses caused by climate change might influence migration varies and estimates of the numbers affected differ widely from source to source. The limited availability of reliable data and resulting knowledge gaps therefore present an important obstacle to moving forward in this area as sound data are key to understanding the complex relationship between migration and the environment and to effective policy and programme development.
The research community has an important role to play in defining the key priority issues to be addressed, based on expertise and sound knowledge, as well as in providing forward-looking options for action. Innovative research methods, more primary, comparable and accurate data collection, empirical studies and systematic and cross-cutting multi-disciplinary approaches to migration and the environment are needed to inform policymakers and practitioners.
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IOM implements the project Effects of Climate Change in Vulnerable Populations and Human Mobility in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua with the aim of contributing to incorporate the issue of human mobility in public policies on adaptation to climate change in these four countries.