As the Director General of the only agency with a global footprint that works on migration, I chaired a High Level Panel on Human Mobility in a Changing Climate during last year’s COP 21 in Paris. I was joined by a host of other leaders also committed to the idea that global climate policies cannot ignore human mobility concerns. I was heartened by the commitment I witnessed during the discussions on migration in a changing climate.

As the COP21 came to an end with the adoption of the Paris Agreement by world governments on 12 December 2015, it became clear that the formal inclusion of ‘migrants’ in the preamble of the agreement and the decision to create a special task force on climate-related displacement were far more than just words on paper.

These developments exemplify the increased interest displayed by various stakeholders: international and national policymakers, the media, civil society and the academia, as well as the migrant communities themselves.

All of us have a stake in addressing climate change as a driver of migration if we want to avert future crises and to realize the potential benefits of migration. For this reason, I urge all world leaders who convened in New York on 22 April 2016 to sign the Paris Climate Agreement, to consider issues related to human mobility and climate change in their national climate policies and planning.

IOM stands ready to support its Member States and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in integrating migration and climate change in policy planning. We have developed an extensive programme of work spanning technical and policy guidance; capacity building for policymakers (to date over 300 policymakers have been trained in 40 countries); research and strengthening the evidence base (over 70 specialist publications on climate migration); and activities in the field in support of migrants and host communities.

IOM continues to support the implementation of the Paris Agreement by supporting the development of national and regional activities on climate migration -- activities that make a positive difference for policymakers and migrants alike.

As a follow up to the historic Agreement signing, IOM will organize a policy event on Migration and Climate in New York on 10 May 2016 to further reflect on how to take action on climate migration while work on COP22 in Marrakesh is proceeding. This follows a recent IOM-organized high-level discussion and capacity-building workshop in Rabat, Morocco. We are confident that issues of climate migration will be fully represented at COP22 and beyond.

Let us not forget that the signing ceremony of the Paris Agreement took place on Earth Day this year. To think about climate migration is also to think about the relationship between our planet and its population. Let’s work together to protect both the people and our natural environment.

Environmental Migration Portal 

Twitter: @IOM_MECC

Previous blogs on climate change and migration