Providing Evidence for Policymaking

By Gina Gallardo and Sieun Lee

There have been an increasing number of publications on the effects of environmental change on migration in recent years[1]. However, has research captured and reflected the policy needs and interest of countries affected by “environmental migration”?

A review of National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs) and National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) provide an unfavorable answer to this question. Migration is often viewed as a failure of climate change adaptation. However, increasingly more weight is given to the argument that migration can be beneficial adaptation to the impacts of environmental and climate change. As a result, reliable data and policy oriented research are in high demand to respond to the needs of policymakers.

The EU-funded project “Migration, Environment and Climate Change: Evidence for Policymaking (MECLEP)” aims to contribute to the global knowledge base on the relationship between migration and environmental change, with a core objective to conduct policy-relevant research. In this regard, the first main activity of the project is to set up technical working groups consisting of policymakers in each of the six pilot countries of the MECLEP project: the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Kenya, Mauritius, Papua New Guinea and Viet Nam, four of which are Small Island Developing States (SIDS). 

In the Dominican Republic, A Technical Working Group (TWG) was established at the national level and met for the first time in April 2014. The Group consists of government actors, civil society and academia that are engaged on the topic of migration or the environment. The TWG was set up to reflect the priorities of public policy in the project activities, especially the main research component.

Policymakers highlighted the projects relevance, specifically in achieving one of the three key axes of the guidelines for the national climate change strategy: strengthening national capacities to address climate change, through the promotion and production of scientific knowledge necessary to formulate climate change policies[2] .

The TWG also prioritized the linking of public policies on environment and climate change to migration policies given the vulnerabilities that the Dominican Republic faces as a densely populated small island state.  In addition, the country shares the territory of Hispaniola Island with Haiti, which is considered the most impoverished country in the Western Hemisphere. Haiti is facing severe environmental damage with almost the entire country being deforested[3]. The link between the environment and migration from Haiti was highlighted throughout the working group

This policy-relevant research on adaptation aims to inform strategies and plans at the national level to mainstream migration into adaptation to environmental and climate change.

For more information on the project view:


[1] More studies were published in four years between 2008 and 2011, compared to between 1990 and 2007. This could be viewed as an expansion or even explosion of interest in academia and the general public.  For more details, see E. Piguet and F. Laczko (eds). 2014. People on the Move in a Changing Climate, Global Migration Issues 2. Springer. 

[2] Rathe, Laura. Lineamientos para una Estrategia Nacional de Cambio Climatico. Fundacion Plenitud, 2008

[3]   Alscher, Stefan, Environmental Degradation and Migration on Hispaniola Island. International Migration, Volume 49 S1, IOM, 2011. pages e164–e188.