A team of researchers from Africa, Asia, and Europe has identified three criteria for evaluating the effectiveness of migration as a means of adapting to climate change. The study highlights the fact that migration is not a silver-bullet solution to climate risks and that it can create winners and losers. Remittances, which include flows of money, ideas, skills, and goods between migrants and their places of origin, are thought to be crucial to climate adaptation. However, the research shows that while remittances improve the material well-being of families and households in the places where migrants move from, this often comes at a cost to the well-being of migrants themselves.
Evaluating the Success of Migration as Adaptation to Climate Change
The study suggests that the evaluation of the success of migration as adaptation to climate change should be based on three criteria: well-being, equity, and sustainability. The authors argue that the success of migration as adaptation to climate change should take into account the outcomes for migrants, their households and family members in the places of origin, and for the host society.
The research highlights that migration can lead to tensions within and between well-being, equity, and sustainability, creating winners and losers. The experiences of migration as adaptation are not equal for everyone involved and can have different outcomes for different people depending on the context and on people’s social characteristics such as age, gender, and ethnicity. For example, female household members whose work burden increases with men’s migration may be struggling to maintain the farm and must make tricky choices that can eventually undermine the success of migration as adaptation.
Dr. Lucy Szaboova from the University of Exeter, the study’s lead author, emphasized the importance of recognizing the implications of migration for the success of adaptation over extended timescales, including across different generations. Evaluations of the success of migration as adaptation should, therefore, take into account longer timeframes and recognize that some implications might not be immediately apparent.
Creatin an Enabling Policy Environment for Migration as Adaptation
The study suggests that migration as a plausible adaptation option should be made visible in policy and planning to address tensions that can stand in the way of success. Professor Neil Adger from the University of Exeter highlighted potential solutions for creating an enabling policy environment. Migrants in cities are disproportionately exposed to social and environmental hazards that negatively affect their health and well-being. Despite this, they remain largely invisible and voiceless in policy circles. Participatory urban planning and deliberative approaches can support the inclusion of diverse perspectives on building safe, sustainable, and resilient cities and can support migration as successful adaptation.
Dr. Mumuni Abu from the Regional Institute for Population Studies at the University of Ghana emphasized that in the absence of equity, migration can exacerbate rather than reduce vulnerability to climate change. Constraints on gender equity between men and women at the household and community level often result in the unsustainable use and management of natural resources in rural places of origin.
Dr. Amina Maharjan of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) added that remittances are often lauded for their potential to support development and adaptation, but experiences point to the need to consider their role along longer time horizons.
The study identifies three criteria for evaluating the success of migration as adaptation to climate change: well-being, equity, and sustainability. It emphasizes the importance of recognizing the implications of migration for the success of adaptation over extended timescales, including across different generations. The study suggests that migration as a plausible adaptation option should be made visible in policy and planning and that participatory urban planning and deliberative approaches can support the inclusion of diverse perspectives on building safe, sustainable, and resilient cities and can support migration as successful adaptation.