UNEP, IMO Chiefs Highlight Linkages Between Safe Migration, Climate Change
UN Photo/Mark Garten
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An op-ed by UNEP Executive Director Erik Solheim and IOM Director General William Lacy Swing summarizes key causes of migration, highlighting linkages to climate change.

The article provides examples of where and how climate change is “redrawing the map” of human activity.

It notes that the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration provides an opportunity to facilitate migration that upholds peoples’ dignity.

7 September 2018: An op-ed by Erik Solheim, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP, or UN Environment), and William Lacy Swing, Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), highlights the importance of safe migration and notes that climate change affects where people can live. It also stresses that the window for action to address climate change – an underlying cause of migration – is closing.

Originally published on Project Syndicate, the article notes that the current “take-make-dispose” paradigm has drastically increased greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions rates and must be changed. GHG emissions, they stress, need to be cut drastically if the world is to stay below 2°C of warming above preindustrial levels.

Solheim and Lacy Swing summarize key causes of migration, highlighting that lack of economic opportunities, environmental degradation, and increased mobility triggered by new forms of travel have contributed to “human displacement and unsafe migration on an unprecedented scale.” Climate change, they note, exacerbates already record high migration levels.

Without addressing root causes, the migration problem, which is “already upon us,” will continue to spiral.

Although it recognizes increasing resilience to natural disasters, the article provides examples of where and how climate change is “redrawing the map” of human activity. It highlights water stress and scarcity in North Africa and the Middle East, increasing droughts and heatwaves as driving zero-sum competition for resources that results in increasingly common mass displacements.

The authors flag the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, on which UN Member States reached agreement in July 2018 and which is due to be adopted in December 2018, noting that it offers a framework for action on climate-driven migration. Underscoring the importance of implementing the Compact, Solheim and Lacy Swing note the opportunity presented by an internationally-agreed system for safe and orderly migration, and that achieving migration that upholds peoples’ dignity is inextricably linked to climate action. Without addressing root causes, the problem – which is “already upon us,” they emphasize – will continue to spiral. [Op-ed by UNEP Executive Director Erik Solheim and IOM Director General William Lacy Swing] [UNFCCC News Article]

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