Date of Meeting: 10 May 2016

Meeting Organizer:  International Organization for Migration (IOM), Permanent Missions of Bangladesh and France

ISJC Staff Present: Robert Docter

Reporter: Robert Docter

Which SDG does this topic cover? 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17

Type of meeting: UN side event

Brief summary of presentation of information made

Opening Remarks

Permanent Observer of IOM, Moderator

  • IOM stands to facilitate environmental work, especially disaster reduction.
  • Publishing of first Migration atlas from IOM (Only copy in French, English version published in June 2016)
    • It’s an innovative tool providing a visual overview of migration paths, trends, and waves both internal and external of the country. Includes explanatory text and climate migrants.

Bangladesh Representative

  • Climate-caused migration is a huge issue in Bangladesh – droughts in the country are forcing people to move – and increasing the vulnerabilities to human rights violations.
  • IOM is working to rehabilitate lands affected by the rise in climate-induced migration.
  • Country lost 6% GDP due to environmental disasters that coincided with an increase in poverty
  • On the issue of rising waters: 1 meter will cover 1/6 of Bangladesh’s land. Rising sea level is an urgent issue for the country.

Representative from Warsaw International Mechanism, UNFCCC

  • In 2010, the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) created the “Cancun Framework” – a piece of work that compiled information on loss and damages induced my natural disasters and adverse effects of climate change.  This led to the formation of the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) – for it to deepen the understand of “loss and damages”. This led to:
    • Enhance understanding and study of human mobility induced by climate change.
    • Create partnerships working with this issue.
    • Work related to Paris COP 21 agreement.

UN OHRLLS Representative (UN office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States)

  • Predominantly, climate change migration occurs in least developed, land locked, or Small Island developing states (SIDS).
    • Poorest countries are most vulnerable to climate-induced migration – bearing the impacts the most with the least availability to adapt due to lack of resources.
  • There’s a need for an accepted term – “climate change refugee” is accurate because the environment is forcing people away from homes, but the definition is hard to change and associate to refugees. This also includes the difference between “migrant” and “refugee” and the need to refine the two.
  • Much focus in the media looks at migrants and refugees between countries – there’s also a need to report and cover migration within countries – where they face very similar or the same repercussions, vulnerabilities, and/or consequences.
    • For example, migrants in Papua New Guinea migrate within their own country – but the cultures are so diverse that it’s equated to changing nations – with different languages, cultures, customs, and food.

Minister, Head of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs for the Germany Mission

  • The speaker introduced the Nansen Initiative – made by Sweden with state partners signing on to the it which focuses on climate change effects on people in transit.
    • Looks at protection of people displaced due to climate change.

Katrina Wyman, Professor at NYU Law

  • The legal and policy perspective from the Paris COP 21 agreement calls for the establishment of work on climate induced migration, human mobility, and displacement. It also calls for enhanced understanding and study of the issue.
  • COP 21 also calls for attention of climate induced displacement awareness.
  • She discusses what needs to be done going forward from a law and policy perspective:
    • The gap in international law of people moving across borders due to climate change, because the status of “refugee” gets complicated
    • Needed protection for climate induced migration within countries.
    • Finding a funding mechanism for the existing gaps stated above, because there’s no current initiative to dedicate a specific source for this issue.

Head of International Organization on Migration (IOM) taskforce on Climate Change and Migration – Geneva

  • There needs to be a formed linkage between environment and migration. How can this be linked? Environment-induced migration is multi-causal phenomenon (social, political, environmental). There are sudden and slow-onset factors.
  • Some examples: floods, earthquakes, extreme heat, drought
  • Flood and storms are the leading causes of climate-induced migration.
  • The issue of climate induced migration focuses too much on sudden risks and responding to those disasters. It needed to also focus on the slow onset factors and working with them in prevention and control.
  • There’s a terminology challenge between “migrant” and “refugee” – and this needs to be discussed within IOM and the future meetings of the UN including the September summit. “Climate migration” is not a legal term – yet its effective when advocating this issue and understanding it. 

What was of particular significance to share with The Salvation Army globally?

  • The Salvation Army does significant work in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and other developing or recently developed countries. From the panelists’ discussion about these types of countries in relation to climate change and migration – The Salvation Army has opportunities in these countries in disaster work, which they do well and often, but also in efforts that are slowly onset. This can include helping infrastructure, community efforts, and partnerships in work that’s related to the environment and climate change.  
  • There’s the work The Salvation Army does with migrants and refugees – but there’s also the need for work for both groups within countries, especially Papua New Guinea where the Army has a significant presence. 

Web links for more information

Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage associated with Climate Change Impacts

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

UN office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States

Nansen Initiative

High-level meeting on addressing large movements of refugees and migrants In Safety and Dignity: Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants

Interview with Karen AbuZayd, Special Adviser on the Summit on Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants

Tags: United Nations, SDG10: Reduced Inequalities, SDG8: Decent Work and Economic Growth, SDG12: Responsible Consumption and Production, SDG13: Climate Action, SDG15: Life on Land, SDG17: Partnerships for the Goals