Working Paper

Migration and Climate Change: An Overview

Published 1 January 2010 / By Etienne Piguet, Antoine Pécoud, Paul de Guchteneire

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Introduction

Climate change has become a major concern for the international community. Among its consequences, its impact on migration is the object of increasing attention from both policy-makers and researchers. Yet, knowledge in this field remains limited and fragmented. This paper therefore provides an overview of the climate change – migration nexus: on the basis of available empirical findings, it investigates the key issues at stake, including the social and political context in which the topic emerged; states? policy responses and the views of different institutional actors; critical perspectives on the actual relationship between the environment and (forced) migration; the concepts and notions most adequate to address this relationship; gender and human rights implications; as well as international law and policy orientations. Two major interconnected arguments arise. The first regards the weight of environmental and climatic factors in migration and their relationship to other push or pull factors, whether of social, political or economic nature. The second is about the political framework in which such migration flows should take place and the manner in which to treat the people who move in connection with environmental factors. The two issues are deeply intertwined, as the extent to which the environment determines migration is intimately connected to the status to be associated with the people concerned.

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