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CLIMATE CHANGE AND MIGRATION IN ASIA AND THE PACIFIC: Some key issues. 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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climate change and migration in asia and the pacific some key issues


Graeme Hugo

ARC Australian Professorial Fellow, Professor of Geography and Director of the Australian Population and Migration Research Centre,

The University of Adelaide

Presentation to the Hamburg Conference: Actions for Climate Induced Migration, Climate Service Center and the KlimaCampus at University of Hamburg

16-18 July 2013

outline of presentation
Outline of Presentation
  • Introduction
  • The Asia-Pacific Context
  • The Relationship Between Environmental Change and Migration
  • Anticipated Hot Spots
  • Mobility Responses
  • Policy Issues
  • Conclusion
the asian pacific context asia pacific population 2012 source population reference bureau 2012
The Asian-Pacific ContextAsia-Pacific: Population, 2012Source: Population Reference Bureau 2012
key changes
Key Changes
  • Rapid Economic growth
  • Social change – role of women, education
  • Demographic change
  • Urbanisation
  • Increased international interaction – regional organisation
  • Increased personal mobility

Number of Chinese Travelling Abroad for Business and Tourism 1981-2003 and Total Number of Outbound Trips from China, 1997-2010Source: Far Eastern Economic Review, 24 June 2004, 30; Asia Times Online, 9 February 2006; Li and Fung Research Centre, 2010; Yu, 2010; Chao, 2011

Total Refugees and People in Refugee like Situations by Country of Asylum, End 2011Source: UNHCR 2012
remittances received us m 2012 source world bank remittances database november 2012
Remittances Received (US$m), 2012Source: World Bank Remittances database, November 2012
The number of international migrants: absolute change and percentage change between 2000 and 2013, by regionSource: United Nations 2013
internal migration
Internal Migration
  • Much greater than international migration
  • Mobility is now within the calculus of choice of all Asian migrants
  • Massively increased circular mobility
  • Urbanisation key factor
Indonesia: Number of Persons per Motor Vehicle, 1950-2009Source: Biro Pusat Statistik publications on Motor Vehicles and Length of Roads
Asia: Urban and Rural Population 1950 to 2030Source: United Nations World Urbanization Prospects: The 2011 Revision
a huge population redistribution has already occurred in asia
A huge population redistribution has already occurred in Asia

* A significant change in population distribution has occurred in the last 40 years. Why not just as large a change in the next 40 years?


World cumulative humanitarian risk hotspots for climate-related hazards - floods, cyclones and droughtSource: CARE International 2009, p.26


Asia: Population Affected by Natural Disasters, 1976 to 2011Source: Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) International Disaster Database,, accessed 3rd February 2012

population and climate change hotspots source www populationaction org publications
Population and Climate Change HotspotsSource:
major climate change hazards
Major Climate Change Hazards
  • The Asia and Pacific regions have been identified as some of the global regions most at risk of experiencing natural disasters – major areas of climate change impact
  • Strong correlation between countries most at risk of experiencing environmental hazards and those at greatest risk from climate change
  • Main climate change impact areas…

- coastal vulnerability, inundation, storm surges, deltas, coastal plains

- cyclones and typhoons

- riparian flooding, impact of glacier melt

- water stress

- atolls, low lying islands

Southern and Eastern Asia: Estimated Population Density Within a 5m Low Elevation Coastal Zone (LECZ), 2010

Southeast Asia: Location of Hot Spot Areas Likely to be Most Impacted by Coastal Flooding Associated with Sea Level Rise, Riparian Flooding, Cyclones/Typhoons and Water Stress as a Result of Climate ChangeSource: Yusuf and Francisco, 2009, 6

tuvalu estimated population density within a 5m low elevation coastal zone lecz 2010
Tuvalu: Estimated Population Density Within a 5m Low Elevation Coastal Zone (LECZ), 2010
projecting impacts of climate change on migration
Projecting Impacts of Climate Change on Migration
  • Too many uncertainties to project numbers of migrants
  • Can project populations in hot spots
indicative population projections
Indicative Population Projections
  • To underline the urgency of the need for development of appropriate institutions and mechanisms to cope with the impact of climate change.
  • To give an indication of the areas that are most likely to be impacted by climate change induced mobility in order to target intervention strategies.
Projected Total Megacity Populations at Risk Allowing for Sea Level Rises of 1 and 5 Metres (’000), 2000

Nations with the Highest Numbers and Proportions of Their Urban Population within the Low Elevation Coastal Zone – The Continuous Area Along the Coast That Is Less Than 10 Metres Above Sea LevelSource: McGranahanet al., 2008

migration policy responses
Migration Policy Responses
  • Most response will be in-situ
  • Must also realise some groups will not be able to adapt at all
  • Overwhelmingly internal migration is involved
  • Migration responses are of two types
    • Adaptation
    • Displacement
migration as adaptation
Migration as Adaptation
  • Strong tradition of mobility as a “coping mechanism” during drought, disasters
  • Several forms
    • Sending of some family members to other locations
    • Temporary displacement (in acute disasters)
    • Circular migration/commuting
    • “Calling in” remittance obligations which remain dormant in normal times
  • More available to better off sections of community
migration as displacement
Migration as Displacement
  • Last resort
  • Often involves poorest because they have no access to adaptation options
  • Much experience of forced displacement in Asia

- Land resettlement Transmigrasi

- Disaster Temporary and Permanent Displacement

- Mega projects (Three Dams)

linear vs non linear impacts of climate change on migration
Linear Vs Non Linear Impacts of Climate Change on Migration

1. significantly increase the numbers of people migrating using established patterns both internally and externally in a linear manner, primarily via voluntary mechanisms; and

2. non-linear changes involves creating new migration flows that result as thresholds of resilience or tipping points being reached. May be spontaneous or involve policy intervention.

key issues
Key Issues
  • Needs to be considered in context of existing migration, not separately
  • Can influence migration through impact at both origin and destination
  • Crucial role of migration networks
  • Inter-relationship with poverty – poor least able to use migration as adaptation more likely to be forcibly displaced
key policy issues
Key Policy Issues
  • Most of mobility adjustments will be internal
  • Key international dimensions

- funding of internal adjustments

- role of international migration as an adaptation mechanism

- role of international migration in resettlement

  • Necessary for setting up an international fund on “polluter pays” principles to fund adaptation and resettlement
  • Should there be a dedicated fund for migration adaptation–resettlement or should it be a fund for all adaptation?
key migration policy issues migration and adaptation
Key Migration Policy Issues –Migration and Adaptation
  • Build on role of migration as a facilitator of development and building resilience in origin areas.
  • Focus on high risk areas in encouraging internal and international migration.
  • Policy to facilitate and enhance existing flows and in some cases help create new flows.
  • Need to involve poorest groups in them.


Introduction of best practice into temporary labour migration
  • Improving governance.
  • Need for more ‘development friendly’ approach in destination countries (e.g. RSE in New Zealand).
  • Based on recognition of the reality of the effects of ageing and low fertility in high income nations
  • National Spatial Development Policy – encouraging development away from hot spots over the next five decades.
resettlement of entire communities a last resort
Resettlement of Entire Communities:A Last Resort
  • Focus of attention – resettlement on both a temporary and permanent basis will need to be planned for.
  • Need to mesh responses with existing disaster management systems (Hyogo Framework for Action).
  • Some permanent displacement will be necessary, most within countries.
  • Need to build on huge body of existing knowledge on planned resettlement of displaced populations.
barriers to establishing a new international regime to protect climate change migrants
Barriers to Establishing a New International Regime to Protect Climate Change Migrants
  • Difficulty of separating climate change from other drivers of migration.
  • Reluctance of potential destination countries to accept a new category of asylum seeker
  • Lack of existing international cooperation on migration in Asia and the Pacific.
  • Short term vs long term goals.
advantages to accommodating climate change migration within existing structures
Advantages to Accommodating Climate Change Migration Within Existing Structures
  • The option is immediately available to climate change forced migrants.
  • It overcomes the manifest suspicion of destination country governments and societies existing, let alone expanded, ‘asylum’ categories of immigration.
  • It obviates any need to set up new institutions, structures and mechanisms.
  • There are for many nations a plethora of different categories of migration which provides a range of ways in which climate change displaces could be accommodated.
  • The system would utilise existing migration networks where they exist to facilitate migration and to assist settlement at the destination.
need for integration with migration and development initiatives
Need for Integration with Migration and Development Initiatives
  • Siloization of 2 key migration discourses
  • Need to go beyond migration as a “coping mechanism”
  • Migration can facilitate development and poverty reduction if carefully planned
  • Need to integrate with development initiatives
  • Consciousness Raising, Climate Change Adaptation Plans
  • Need for an Improved Empirical Basis

- Data Collection on Migration

- Targeted Case Studies

  • Capacity Building and Improvement in Governance in Migration
  • Enhanced Regional and International Cooperation
  • Develop Best Practice in Migration
  • Effective Mechanisms for Funding Migration Responses
  • Integrate with Disaster Management
  • Enhancing Resistance in Communities