Anticipating the Future, Taking Action Now: Resolving Climate Mobility Challenges

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IOM

Climate mobility is a reality today; heat waves, wildfires, droughts, floods and other disasters are affecting the lives of tens of millions of people. As the impacts of climate change intensify and overlap with other global crises, from pandemics and conflict to economic downturns and food insecurity, the world finds itself under unprecedented pressure.

The International Organization for Migration’s flagship policy paper, Thinking about Tomorrow, Acting Today: the Future of Climate Mobility, released today at the International Dialogue on Migration in Geneva proposes a series of actions to save lives, protect human rights and harness the power of migration to contribute to development and support the green transition.

“Our task now is to come together to accelerate and scale-up action to increase the scope of options available to the individuals, households and communities affected by climate change, especially the most vulnerable,” said IOM Director General, Amy Pope. “There is simply no time to lose.”

Projections of when and where people will be exposed to climate-related hazards paint an alarming picture. The direct effects of climate change, exacerbated by secondary impacts such as declining agricultural productivity, are estimated to cause the internal migration of up to 216 million persons by 2050.

By 2030, an estimated 50 per cent of the world’s population will live in coastal areas exposed to flooding, storms and tsunamis. By 2100, between 50 per cent and 75 per cent of the human population may be exposed to periods of life-threatening temperature and humidity conditions. It is time to heed the evidence and make use of the plethora of relevant agreements to make human mobility a core part of the equation to address the implications of and design responses to climate change.

The paper outlines why climate mobility is important now, why it will be more so in the future and makes the case for using foresight and other tools available to drive anticipatory action on climate mobility.

It proposes specific actions to engage and support the individuals and communities which are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. A range of practical examples of effective solutions, drawing on IOM’s experience of working with governments, other UN agencies and partners at global, regional, national and local level are included to illustrate what can be done to achieve progress and to inspire action.

Ahead of the 28th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP28) in November the message is clear – human mobility should be an integral part of the global effort to address climate change.

It should be acknowledged as a crucial element of climate adaptation, and integrated into climate financing mechanisms, including the new fund for Loss and Damage. From the recent SDG Summit to the upcoming Climate Change conference in the UAE, to the Summit of the Future next year – in all these key discussions, migration should be part of the solutions that are put on the table to achieve a better future for all.

To make this happen, stakeholders working in migration, climate change as well as humanitarian, development and peace sectors need to come together. The Future of Climate Mobility paper highlights the central role of youth as ambassadors of the future and agents of change. The importance of mobilizing investors, including the private sector to enable forward-looking and innovative solutions that will create change where it is most needed is another major theme.

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