COP19: What’s at stake?

Suh-Yong CHUNG is an Associate Professor in the Division of International Studies at Korea University and Director of Center for Climate and Sustainable Development Law and Policy (CSDLAP, www.csdlap.org), Republic of Korea. His most recent publication is Post-2020 Climate Change Regime Formation (Routledge, 2013). 


1. What can be achieved at this year’s COP19?

To complete the negotiations on the new post-2020 climate regime, countries need to agree on the key issues to be included in the regime and also have their own stance prepared by this year’s COP19. This will form the basis to start discussing the negotiating texts which can lead to the adoption of a new treaty or another type of a legal agreement in France at COP21 in 2015.

In this context, it is extremely important in the climate change negotiations that a balance is achieved between the top-down approach and the bottom-up approach. This can result in a modality which both the major emitters and the developing countries can agree upon. 

Moving Human Mobility Up the Climate Change Agenda

Asia, Bangladesh, Shatkira district. Salma Khatun, 25 years old, in her flooded house. She lives in a small village a few miles from the city of Shatkira. ©Alessandro Grassani 2011

“I am heartened by the fact that migration and population displacement now feature in a UN Climate Change document, but we need to go further. As the international migration agency, we are committed to making progress in three main areas. First, to support the least developed and developing countries in their efforts to integrate migration into adaptation planning, as they are currently developing their National Adaptation Plans.  Second, to continue our work on mainstreaming migrants’ contributions into development strategies.  Third, to enhance capacities needed to manage environmental migration. If systematically included in development policies, the multiple contributions of migrants can significantly contribute to sustainable and green strategies” William Swing. IOM Director – General. World Environment Day

By Dina Ionesco


Pacific Island Youth Tackle Climate Change

By Joe Lowry in the Marshall Islands

The  Majuro Protocol for the Survival of humankind has been signed! Countries have agreed to work together to meet the challenges of climate change, lower emissions, fund adaptation and meet half their energy needs with renewable energy by 2050. 

This isn’t breaking news on CNN, but it may mark a hopeful note for the future. For the signatories of the (non-binding) protocol were students of high schools, at the first Model United Nations simulation ever held in the Marshall Islands.

Catch Each Drop

By Philippe Brewster

TODAY is World Desertification Day and for the last seven months, all islands over the 8 degree latitude in the Marshall islands have been suffering from a severe drought due to a near total absence of rainfall. The rainy season normally starts this month but as yet there has been no rain. Over 10% of the country’s population is severely affected by this meteorological phenomenon. The government declared a state of emergency in May this year and a humanitarian response targeting one of the remotest corners of the planet has been launched by the national government and international community.

Water Scarcity Report on Iraq

By Sieun Lee

Water scarcity in Iraq is causing a significant reduction in crop yields which in turn forces people to leave their agricultural communities. Since 2007, the number of rural inhabitants that have left their original communities has reached 20,000. It’s also leading to increased conflict at the local level. Tension and verbal arguments due to water stress and competition, often occurring every day, was reported during the assessment period. Ethnic tensions related to access to water were also felt in the some regions which carry the potential of leading to bigger ethnic conflicts.

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European Adaptation Agenda

By Dina Ionesco

The European Union Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change released in April 2013 by the European Commission (EC) emphasizes the interlinkages between climate change, environmental degradation, and migration through a special Commission Staff Working Document devoted to the topic. 

It looks at a wide spectrum of activities including humanitarian aid, disaster risk reduction, relocation, migration management and protection. Two key messages emerge from the human mobility perspective: first, the recognition that migration is one possible adaptation strategy and a coping mechanism for individuals and communities. Second, the call for a better integration of migration with environment as a recognized trigger, into development strategies, by using relevant migration and development knowledge, tools and programmes. The presence of migration in a Communication focused on adaptation, matches the efforts integrate adaptation in the migration and mobility related EC legislation. 

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The Disaster Risk Reduction Agenda

By Daniel Salmon 

The Fourth Session of the Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction (GPDRR) took place between the 21st and 23rd of May 2013 in Geneva, Switzerland. Recognising the GPDRR as the world's foremost gathering of stakeholders committed to Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) IOM participated in the platform highlighting its global Disaster Risk Reduction and migration strategy.

In line with Platform's objectives of information exchange and knowledge and partnership building, IOM underlined how human mobility plays a dual role in determining vulnerability and resilience to disasters. IOM brought to floor the specific protection needs of internal and international migrants caught in disasters, highlighting the importance of preventing forced migration and providing adequate assistance and protection for affected people. 

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The Climate Change Agenda

By Daria Mokhnacheva 

Migration was first formally introduced into the negotiations on climate change under the Cancun Adaptation Framework in 2010, as paragraph 14(f) of the Cancun Agreements explicitly called for more research and coordinated efforts to address "climate change induced displacement, migration and planned relocation".

Another result of the Cancun talks was the establishment of a new Work Programme on Loss and Damage, opening doors to new areas of research and action, including in relation to climate-induced migration. Loss and damage is a relatively recent topic, and initially a controversial one, as it derives from the recognition that mitigation and adaptation efforts are likely to fail in many situations, inducing economic, social and cultural loss and damage from the negative impacts of climate change. Developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to climate change are expected to be affected most

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Building a common language on environmental migration

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). 

It provided an up to date and comprehensive understanding of the issues from experts on migration and the environment. 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. 

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Briefings from the Field

By Mark Koski with Peter Kern, Elham Pourazar and Bradley Mellicker

Indonesia:  West Java province is disaster prone and heavily populated. IOM Indonesia has developed a programme to strengthen Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) capacity and to enhance community resilience in seven districts. 

Namibia: With IOM's help, Namibia is enhancing its national disaster risk management capacity. Namibia suffers from floods, drought and fires but has shown strong commitment to increased disaster resilience. Activities are expanding to other countries in southern Africa.

Haiti: Before Tropical Storms Isaac and Sandy hit Haiti in August and October 2012, IOM helped carry out the first and second ever preventative evacuations of exposed communities in support of the government. 

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Newsmaker Interview: Michelle Yonetani

Interview by Mark Koski 

We had an opportunity to speak with Michelle Yonetani, the Norwegian Refugee Council/Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre's (IDMC) Senior Advisor on Natural Disasters about the recent publication of IDMC's annual report: A Global Estimates 2012: People Displaced by Disasters. The following is a brief interview about the publication. 

Could you give us a brief overview of the IDMC report and could you tell us about some of the key findings? 

The IDMC has published its Global Estimates report annually since 2008. The report was initially developed in collaboration with the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), with whom IDMC developed a methodology for analyzing data and reporting. Since 2008, the methodology has been refined and the report has expanded the number of sources utilized- in particular through increased cooperation with IOM this year.

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Focus on Mongolia: When Dzuds Force Migration

By Daria Mokhnacheva, Mark Koski, with Joshua Hart

Mongolia, the 2013 Global Host of World Environment Day, suffers from severe environmental effects from repeated 'dzuds' (complex natural disasters involving summer drought followed by harsh winters with extreme temperatures and heavy snowfall). IOM invited photographer Alessandro Grassani to showcase his work on environmental migration titled 'Environmental Migrants: The Last Illusion'. Alessandro has worked in Mongolia documenting the environmental stresses on the rural Mongolians and the impact on their livelihoods.

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