Migration is not all about climate change / Columns / The Foreigner

Migration is not all about climate change. Research on climate change and human migration has come of age. In Durham, England, in June, the conference "Human Migration and the Environment" brought together over a hundred researchers, policy makers, and practitioners. We explored how environmental change does and does not force, cause, and influence migration and staying in one's home. In recent years, this field has been dominated by certain views of climate change. Their starting assumption was that climate change will inevitably cause mass migration of 'climate change refugees'.

climatechange, migration



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Migration is not all about climate change

Published on Tuesday, 14th July, 2015 at 00:07 under the columns category, by Ilan Kelman.

Research on climate change and human migration has come of age.

Moonrise over Durham and the conference
Moonrise over Durham and the conference
Photo: Ilan Kelman


In Durham, England, in June, the conference "Human Migration and the Environment" brought together over a hundred researchers, policy makers, and practitioners. We explored how environmental change does and does not force, cause, and influence migration and staying in one's home.

In recent years, this field has been dominated by certain views of climate change. Their starting assumption was that climate change will inevitably cause mass migration of 'climate change refugees'.

Other voices objected to this assumption, providing arguments and evidence against it. Yet too many commentators (including scientists) insisted on portraying 'climate change migration' as a threat, a burden, and a crisis.

In Durham, we went well beyond the rhetoric. The speakers and questions were pragmatic, sensible, and critiquing.

Simply put, migration is not and never has been all about climate change. The connection from climate change to migration is complex and, with some exceptions including Arctic and atoll communities, not straightforward.

Factors intertwined with the environment include economics, livelihoods, health, education, family adventure, and fun. People seek and often deserve options and resources to move or not.

After many false starts, the climate change and migration research area is maturing. It is connecting with and advancing solid science. We can now hope that it will positively influence policy and practice.

Ilan Kelman is a Reader in Risk, Resilience and Global Health at University College London.



Published on Tuesday, 14th July, 2015 at 00:07 under the columns category, by Ilan Kelman.

This post has the following tags: climatechange, migration.





  
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