Building a common language on environmental migration

Asia-Pacific Training for Policymakers and Practitioners on Migration, Environment, Climate Change and Adaptation, Republic of Korea (21- 23 March 2013). Photo: IOM 2013

By Clara Crimella and Sieun Lee

Factoring migration into environmental and development policies as well as climate change adaptation strategies is seen as being of crucial importance. Facilitating regional exchanges among policymakers and practitioners on migration, environment and climate change was also a priority of the Asia-Pacific Training for Policymakers and Practitioners on Migration, Environment, Climate Change and Adaptation, Republic of Korea (21- 23 March 2013). The Training offered an opportunity to build a “common language” to speak of migration in the context of environmental degradation and climate change among practitioners with different national origins and diverse professional backgrounds.

This pilot training for policymakers and practitioners was organized by IOM in partnership with the Government Office for Science, United Kingdom (Foresight), the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP) and was hosted by the IOM Migration Research and Training Centre.  The event translated the findings of recent reports from Foresight (Migration and Global Environmental Change, 2011), ADB (Addressing Climate Change and Migration in Asia Pacific, 2011), IOM (International Dialogue on Migration N.18: Climate Change Environmental Degradation and Migration, 2011) and United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security UNU-EHS (Where the Rain Falls, 2012) into training modules.

The intensive training provided an up to date and comprehensive understanding of migration in the context of climate change and environmental degradation, delivered by experts on migration and environment issues. The training looked into concepts, terminology, legal issues, research tools, funding mechanisms and regional trends. It also explored how migration can be an adaptation practice, how migration can be included in climate and development policies, what are the humanitarian responses to forced migration in the context of natural disasters and complex crisis and how migration fits in disaster risk reduction policies.

Twenty government officials with diverse backgrounds such as climate change adaptation, development, disaster risk reduction, environment, foreign affairs, labour, and migration, gathered from fifteen countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Participants’ feedback showed that the mix of backgrounds, geographical diversity and professional experience within the group had a positive effect on the learning process. They also mentioned that they found the training interesting, educative, stimulating as well as challenging and useful in terms of making recommendations to relevant ministries and agencies for appropriate migration policy.

The training was organized back-to-back with the 3rd Annual Asia-Pacific Climate Change Adaptation Forum.

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