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Challenges and Opportunities: Setting the Agenda for Climate Induced Migration. by Graeme Hugo ARC Australian Professorial Fellow, Professor of Geography and Director of the Australian Population and Migration Research Centre, The University of Adelaide

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challenges and opportunities setting the agenda for climate induced migration
Challenges and Opportunities:Setting the Agenda forClimate Induced Migration


Graeme Hugo

ARC Australian Professorial Fellow, Professor of Geography andDirector of the Australian Population and Migration Research Centre,The University of Adelaide

Presentation to Podium Discussion, Hamburg Conference: Actions forClimate Induced Migration, Climate Service Centre and the Klima Campus at University of Hamburg

16 July 2013

two questions
Two Questions:
  • Under what circumstances is migration a form of proactive adaptation?
  • How should migration be integrated in climate change adaptation policies?
migration as adaptation to crisis in asia
Migration As Adaptation to Crisis in Asia

Can take many forms

  • Sending out some family members to live elsewhere
  • Deploying some family members to work elsewhere
  • Circular migration and commuting
  • ‘Calling in’ remittances from other diaspora
  • Total displacement
A Simple Model of Population Mobility Strategies Associated with Food Insecurity and FamineSource: Hugo 1991, p.133
factors influencing whether migration can be a positive adaptation
Factors Influencing Whether Migration Can be a Positive Adaptation
  • Community and individual factors
  • History of mobility in community
  • Existing networks, diaspora in destination
  • Existing corridors of movement
  • Availability of transport
  • Accessibility, location
individual factors
Individual Factors
  • Existing family networks in diaspora
  • Family members with circular migration experience
  • Socio-economic factors and poverty
poverty central issue effecting extent to which proactive adaptation is possible
Poverty: Central Issue Effecting Extent to Which Proactive Adaptation is Possible

The poor are least able to make proactive adaptation because:

  • They have little or no margin for experimentation.
  • They have the fewest personal or community economic resources to support autonomous adaptation, including migration.
  • They often have the least access to formal institutional assistance or collective adaptation responses.
  • They are often distanced from national and international decision-makers and therefore, their plight may go un-noticed or responses may be comparatively weak or late.
  • Most likely to move only as a last resort. Forced, non-linear movement.
some policy implications
Some Policy Implications
  • Importance of poverty reduction strategies
  • Need for policy involvement to facilitate mobility as a proactive response, especially in communities with no history of mobility
  • Types of initiatives
    • Information programs
    • Mobility assistance
    • Assistance in getting work, accommodation at destination
    • Facilitating remittances
integration of migration into climate change policy
Integration of Migration Into Climate Change Policy
  • Only one part of question
  • Need to integrate climate change in other migration related initiatives. In particular:
    • Migration and development
    • Diaspora policy
integrating migration into climate change policy
Integrating Migration IntoClimate Change Policy
  • Need to change discourse among physical scientists concerning migration.
  • Climate change does not automatically mean population displacement.
  • Need to recognise that migration associated with climate change is not separate from existing patterns and drivers of migration.
  • Need to recognise that migration is one of a number of adaptation initiatives among which in situ adaptation will be dominant.




  • Need sophisticated conceptualisation of migration – not just permanent displacement.
  • Need to differentiate migration implications of acute events and slow onset effects.
  • Need to recognise that most mobility associated with climate change will be within countries.
  • Need to reject simplistic, outlandish, unsubstantiated projection of displaced populations.
  • Also need for more sophisticated understanding of climate change among migration scholars.
  • Need for productive dialogue based on mutual respect of significance of physical and social science dimensions.
integrating climate change into migration policy
Integrating Climate Change Into Migration Policy
  • Largely left out of key international initiatives.
  • October 2013 High Level Dialogue on Migration and Development at United Nations.
  • Global Forum on Migration and Development.
  • Major regional initiatives and fora on migration do not include climate change.
  • Huge body of experience on displacement migration associated with land settlement and displacement by mega projects. Need to include climate change.
moving away from seeing migration purely as a coping mechanism
Moving Away From Seeing Migration Purely as a Coping Mechanism
  • Recognition that in a favourable policy environment migration can be a major enabler of poverty reduction and development.
  • Can climate change be also seen as a way of achieving more sustainable patterns of population distribution?
  • An increase in international migration and urbanisation over the next three decades is necessary for economic and social development. By integrating with climate change it can also fulfil sustainability goals.
  • Climate change, urbanisation and international migration are three of the most pressing contemporary global issues
  • Yet policy and academic engagement is siloized
  • Need for more cross-disciplinary, cross-agency, cross-government department interventions
  • Needs to occur at individual and institutional level