Understanding migration and global environmental change nexus in India – Advice. Reply by 24 Feb 2014

Home Forums Understanding migration and global environmental change nexus in India Understanding migration and global environmental change nexus in India – Advice. Reply by 24 Feb 2014

This topic contains 23 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by  GYM 4 years, 8 months ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 24 total)
  • Author
  • #503


    Consolidated Reply – Understanding migration and global environmental change nexus in India

    We are starting with our first discussion on GYM. We are pleased that Ms. Vandana Aggarwal, Economic advisor, MoEF-GoI is initiating a policy relevant discussion on ” Understanding migration and global environmental change nexus in India “. This will also feed into a workshop being organised by UNESCO, the UK Government Office for Science (GOS) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID) on 4-5 March 2014. We invite all practitioners, experts, policy makers working in this field to take active part in the discussion. The query is simultaneously inviting comments from the Gender Community and Climate Change Community of UN Solution Exchange. Thank you, Marina Faetanini (UNESCO) & Malika Basu (Gender Community).

    Query: Understanding migration and global environmental change nexus in India – Advice. Reply by 24 February 2014. To: se-gen_gym@solutionexchange-un.net.in

    Dear Members,

    I am pleased to initiate a discussion that will throw light on the nexus between migration and global environmental change in India. As Economic Adviser to the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF), Government of India, I am trying to understand better how migration is being influenced by global environmental change; and what policies we need to develop and review so that the nexus is addressed.

    Addressing this nexus between Migration and Global Environmental Change in India, UNESCO, the UK Government Office for Science (GOS) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID) are holding a two-day workshop on 4-5 March 2014 in New Delhi. The workshop will explore how the findings of the GOS Foresight report “Migration and Global Environmental Change” (MGEC; 2011; available at http://www.bis.gov.uk/assets/foresight/docs/migration/11-1116-migration-and-global-environmental-change.pdf) and other analysis, could inform the thinking of key stakeholders in policy, academia and civil society with a specific interest in this topic.

    In particular, the workshop will involve key sectors including planning, environment and forest, rural development, urban development, disaster management, science and technology, tribal affairs, labour, agriculture, water resources to raise awareness and increase knowledge on the challenges and opportunities that need to be addressed.

    The concept note on the above workshop is available at: ftp://ftp.solutionexchange.net.in/public/clmt/resource/res_info_12021401.pdf

    Climate change is one of the more pronounced pathways through which global environmental change will express itself. There has been a growing focus on adaptation to climate change in India after the roll out of the National Action Plan on Climate Change (http://pmindia.nic.in/climate_change.php) and the subsequent state level action plans of various states. Climate change adaptation is multi-dimensional and involves the sectors such as agriculture, health, urbanization, water resources among others. Conversely adaptation planning has been routed through various ongoing programs and policies of these ministries. There is however lacunae in acknowledging the nexus between climates change adaptation and migration.

    An interdisciplinary and multi-stakeholder approach is required to find solutions for the migration and global environment change nexus and capacities in diverse areas such as sustainable urbanization, climate change adaptation, conflict resolution and humanitarian assistance. This discussion that I have initiated aims to explore points in the current legal and political framework to mainstream migration influenced by global environmental change concerns so that new policies are resilient to a wide range of changes.

    Keeping in view the above, I invite members of the Gender Community, Climate Change Community of Solution Exchange and Gender, Youth and Migration (GYM), sub-community of practice of the Gender Community to kindly respond to the following:
    • What are the probable pathways through which global environmental change in general and climate change in particular will affect the drivers of migration in India?
    • How can migration concerns, be incorporated into various policies and programs of the government that are relevant for climate adaptation?
    • What are some of the key gender issues that we need to address while looking at the migration-global environment change nexus?

    Responses from members will help to complement the learning from the workshop in furthering the understanding of the nexus between migration and global environmental /climate change. Contribution of members would be suitably acknowledged by UNESCO. It will also be useful information for MoEF.

    I look forward to an engaging and informed discussion.

    Best wishes,
    Vandana Aggarwal
    Economic Adviser
    Ministry of Environment & Forests
    Government of India
    New Delhi

    Reply To: se-gen_gym@solutionexchange-un.net.in

    • This topic was modified 6 years ago by  GYM.
    • This topic was modified 6 years ago by  GYM.
    • This topic was modified 6 years ago by  GYM.
    • This topic was modified 5 years, 9 months ago by  GYM.
    • This topic was modified 4 years, 4 months ago by  GYM.


    Abhishek Mendiratta, Jupiter Knowledge Management and Innovative Concepts, New Delhi

    Climate Change and its associated migration is a very serious and important subject. We have communities and sub communities to discuss but something concrete in this sector can only happen when we have authentic research indicating migration is actually happening due to climate change.

    Disaster and climate change are interrelated but the research should establish that disaster is happening because of climate change.

    Lack of research and economic analysis of the consequences of climate change, disaster and migration is the reason why it is not a priority.

    When we see migration and climate change in gender perspective, Climate is not biased towards any gender nor is nature. Hence we should first address the problems of migrants, then only we can go deep into the problems of Gender related issues.

    Climate is even not biased to youth/old. Hence when objectives will be clear than only we can achieve something. Hence, I recommend concrete research before planning these kinds of issues.

    • This reply was modified 6 years ago by  GYM.
    • This reply was modified 6 years ago by  GYM.
    • This reply was modified 6 years ago by  GYM.


    Mrinal K Nath, Disaster Risk Management Specialist , New Delhi

    In South Asian countries ever increasing population in general and climate change in particular is going to play a major role in migration. For Example:

    • Due to the global warming sea levels are increasing and from 1880 to 2010 there is increased by 20 cm and if the present situation of emission continues then according to scientists it will rise further.
    • The highest point in the Lakshadweep islands is 15m and average height of all the islands is about 5m from mean sea level. If the world community will not be able to cap the global warming then migration from these islands to the main land will happen.
    • There is no pull factor to encourage anyone for migration but all the push factors will work to displace people from its own land.
    • Monsoon is going to be erratic and many parts of India will receive low rain causing drought and crop failure. The rural to urban migration will increase phenomenally.
    • Frequent and bigger flood and cyclone disasters will lead to migration from coastal areas to other parts of India which may not necessarily be a rural to urban migration.
    • The biggest problem India has to face is the huge Bangladeshi influx as with 1 m rise in sea level 33% of Bangladesh is going to submerge. This will lead to millions of people coming to India.

    In near future any development programme of the government has to be related with climate change adaptation as :

    • The rural to urban migration will happen due to the failure of crops, in that situation the relevance of multimillion dollar river linking project brightens. Because, with the rainfall distribution patter changing, the volume of water in each of the big rivers will change, which only can be solved with river linking and controlled distribution.
    • Food, water and health are the main three sectors where mankind will suffer highest due to climate change. So, the existing policies and programmes have to address these issues. There is a need for extensive research to ensure how various government programmes can be made appropriate to the situation.
    • The frequency and magnitude of the climate induced natural disasters will increase phenomenally. So, the government at any level has to integrate DRR projects with development projects to reduce vulnerability.

    The gender issues will remain same as today but intensity of suffering will be much more with changing climate as indicated below:

    • As usual in India the percentage of male rural to urban migration will be higher due to crop failure and financial insecurity in rural areas. The females have to take the burden of household with minimum resources.
    • The scarcity of potable water will increase with increasing drudgery of the rural women to fetch water. There will be lack of fodder for the cattle causing more problem for the women to take care of the cattle.
    • Issues related with reproductive health will increase due to poor diet and child malnutrition is also likely to increase substantially.

    The global warming affects are based on models only and scientists are yet not sure how much temperature will increase by the year 2100 AD which is again directly proportional to the cap on the emissions.

    There is ample need of research on the adaptation mechanisms which can’t be adopted from other parts of the world, because of socio-cultural and topographical variability and then only the government policies and programmes will become target oriented.

    • This reply was modified 6 years ago by  GYM.
    • This reply was modified 6 years ago by  GYM.
    • This reply was modified 6 years ago by  GYM.
    • This reply was modified 6 years ago by  GYM.


    G Nirmala, CRIDA, Hyderabad

    Migration is considered one of the biggest problems of rural development which has a severe impact on agriculture and labour availability.

    Keeping in view the adverse impacts of climate change scenario it has become highly pronounced. There is shift in livelihoods and also agriculture as livelihood itself is under severe threat causing food insecurity.

    Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture (CRIDA) is working on climate change vulnerability and adaptation. It has developed vulnerability atlas and for details, director@crida.in may be contacted.

    NREGA studies have proved migration could be checked with livelihood support, however it has its own repercussions on agriculture where labour willingness to work on lower wages offered by agriculture has been reduced and as such agriculture polices are looking  at mechanisation of agriculture which again may reduce skill of labour for agriculture work.

    Migration, NREGA schemes and agriculture are closely related and need to be tackled in the same manner as other environmental impacts and concerns are tackled.



    Ramesh Kumar Jalan, United Nations Development Programme, New Delhi

    I would like to share with you the highlights of a news article published today in DNA on “Migration back to villages: The government’s lack of focus on agriculture shows its lopsided priorities”. The article is available at: http://www.dnaindia.com/analysis/column-migration-back-to-villages-1962672 .

    • In the coming months, about 1.5 crore farmers who quit agriculture in the past seven years, are likely to trudge back into the villages.
    • In normal circumstances such a massive reverse migration — from the cities back to the villages — would have been a sign of inclusive growth.
    • However, economists are taking this U-turn as a sign of economic slowdown. A report by CRISIL put this as an indicator of the slowing economy as a result of which people are being forced to return to their villages.
    • In the seven-year period between 2005 and 2012, according to CRISIL, an estimated 3.7 crore farmers quit agriculture. Economists view this trend as a sign of economic growth.
    • In other words, while 50 lakh farmers are forced out of agriculture every year, growing farm unemployment is being considered as a sign of economic growth.
    • How can pushing farmers out of agriculture sector and then finding an alternative employment for these millions displaced from agriculture constitute economic growth?
    • Nevertheless, we are told that an estimated 70 lakh jobs are created in the non-farm sector. Considering that most of the non-farm jobs are in construction, what is not being told is that these menial jobs are temporary and do not carry any social security. Construction sector employs daily-wage earners, and for the farmers who find employment in the construction industry, this is no stable employment.
    • All this is happening at a time when a bountiful monsoon has resulted in a record food grain production this year. In fact, agriculture is going to be the saviour of the Indian economy in 2013-14.
    • At a time when there is an all-round doom and gloom — industrial output failing to keep pace, manufacturing sector declining, joblessness growing, fiscal deficit mounting and the current account deficit growing to a worrisome level — it is only agriculture that provides a glimmer of hope and yet, all out efforts are being made to shift the population out of agriculture.
    • On an average, 2,500 farmers quit farming every day to join the army of landless workers.
    • Since the agriculture sector happens to be the biggest employer, why don’t the policymakers try to make agriculture a more productive and economically viable profession? Why can’t farmers be provided with a higher income so that they stay on the farms?
    • Translocating a massive population from the rural to urban areas is only leading to the collapse of the cities and at a time of jobless growth, these farmers are only providing cheap and readily available labour force for the real estate and construction industry.
    • Uprooting more people from agriculture will only add to more and more people in poverty, and lead to under-employment.
    • Food security requirements can be met by food imports, and given the emphasis on land acquisition for the industry, real estate and highways, the task of producing food for the population will become more and more difficult. Already there are indications that India will turn into an importer of rice in the next three years.
    • With no jobs being created in the manufacturing sector, why should we deprive people from their only means of livelihood: farming?
    • A Planning Commission report released early this year underlines the contradictions in India’s growth story. At a time when GDP was galloping at 8-9 per cent between 2005 and 2010, the report shows 140 lakh people were displaced from agriculture.


    Pradeep Mohapatra, UDYAMA, Bhubaneswar

    Migration Issue in western Odisha generally and Bolangir in particular is one of the challenging aspects for all of off us. Despite substantial efforts by government and non-government organizations to reduce distress migration, it has become more sensitive, but there are many ways to reduce migration for which collaborative ventures are needed.

    UDYAMA  is working on this distress migration and Climate change since 2000.  Generally Migration is good , as people are moving out  for better income, amenities and livelihoods. However, things are really   very much bad when distress migration is undertaken. Looking at recurrent floods, droughts, cyclone and hazards, life is always threatened. Finding no assurance either from nature or human, people are being forced to migrate with kith-kin for longer periods. Keeping in view global climate change, distress migration will lead to more social and financial disparities.

    We at UDYAMA  are trying to minimize adverse impact of distress migration in Western Odisha Particularly in Titlagada and Bonganunda of Bolangir district, with support from SDTT.

    Few important aspects that need to be considered are as follows:

    • Base line Survey, Identification, Registration,  cooperation of local Sarapach, Providing  I-cards counter-signed by Sarapanch,
    • Life skill training based on interest of youth; Linking with NIOS for vocational accreditation
    • Organising interaction with block level official for MNREGS etc.


    Pushpa Achanta , Bangalore

    Thanks for the important and interesting insights thus far. Two of my stories on women, adaptive agriculture and migration in the arid regions of Andhra Pradesh published in the Deccan Herald are available at:

    Incidentally, I have discussed the topic of gender, climate change and migration in my book titled “Ripples: The Right to Water and Sanitation for Whom“, published in July 2013 by the Indian Social Institute, Bangalore.



    Dilruba Haider, Climate and Disaster Risk Reduction Community, Solution Exchange Bangladesh,   UNDP Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh

    I don’t agree entirely with Abhishek Mendiratta when he says that: ‘…..Climate is not biased towards any gender….’. Climate is not biased, the society, the culture, and the system are.

    There have been several studies done on climate change vulnerabilities and impacts on women in the south west Bangladesh which show that women are hit more with climate change impacts compared to their male counterparts, due to their socio-economic status.

    Therefore, when we discuss climate change and migration we certainly need to focus on women’s issues, since their risks and vulnerabilities as well as their resilience are different from men’s. Need to remember that a ‘straight jacket’ strategy and solutions would not fit all.

    Secondly, I remember the Climate Change Community in India and Bangladesh ran a similar query two years ago on climate and disaster related refugee issue. The predominant message coming out of that discussion was that people do not necessarily migrate due to climate change and disasters, there are hosts of other reasons.

    For Climate Change and disaster people get displaced within the border of their own countries. Thus climate refugee perhaps is not that critical an issue, except perhaps for island countries like the Maldives.

    I think climate refugee is just a notion that is being used by the poor and developing countries. Having said that, I believe some movement does happen cross border, especially between Bangladesh and India, mainly because of the familial pull factor. When the families are devastated by sudden onrush of flood water from upstream (e.g. the flood of 2000 in South West Bangladesh), sometimes do migrate to India where they have relatives to shelter and help them out.

    The percentage of such people is probably nominal; as far as I hear from the field; I can’t say that with certainty since I am not aware of any study done on this factor.

    On this note, I would like to emphasise the point of regional cooperation between countries. There are consultations going on amongst the DRR practitioners throughout the world since 2012 to shape up the post 2015/ post HFA DRR Framework.

    As part of that the SAARC Disaster Management Centre floated a consultation between practitioners of India and Bangladesh on priorities of the region for post HFA framework. The discussion was jointly hosted by Disaster Management Community of India and Climate and Disaster Risk Reduction Community of Bangladesh.

    Most of the members of these two communities invariably emphasised on the great need for cooperation between the countries of the region especially in terms of early warning and sharing of experience, knowledge, and technical expertise. So, while we talk about climate change and possible migration, let’s talk about regional cooperation between governments, and practitioners as well.



    Dipankar Dasgupta, DISHA, Kolkota

    Based on my personal experience of working & interacting with various stakeholders in the Sunderbans, West Bengal, which is one of the most vulnerable & threatened ecosystems in this country due to climate change impact, human intervention & faulty developmental policies & priorities.

    However, even before the Aila disaster, Sunderbans was becoming increasingly endemic to indebtedness, migration, child labour, women & child trafficking, very poor nutritional status especially amongst children & women, high incidence of TB, malaria & other diseases as a result of poor nutrition & sanitary conditions.

    These problems exacerbated manifold after Aila and brought to the fore the increasing risks, vulnerability, migration and poverty of the communities at risk.



    K V Peter, World Noni Research Foundations, Chennai

    I quite agree with Dilruba Haider. During natural calamities like flood, drought, hurricanes and typhoons the worst hit in inaccessible villages, sea shores and mountains are women and children.

    They act as human barricades between huts and roaring flood waters and waves. Natural disasters and climate change are interrelated.

    With rise in global temperature, there is rise in sea water levels. With melting of snows and ice river water flow increases and leads to flooding. People living near flooding rivers are affected. Drift of glaciers and its melting are studied in India.



    Komal Kantariya, Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority, Gandhinagar, Gujarat

    Some of the pathways through which global environmental change would influence and shape various drivers of migration in India are based on:

    • Uncertainties associated with the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events impact the decision making process for migration, both at the household and community level. Decision spans a wide spectrum, from temporary relocation to displacement through to migration, both short-term and long-term.
    • Understanding the choices, trade-offs and opportunities across this spectrum is essential to better design policies which harness the potentials of migration in a changing climate scenario and build the resilience of the migrants and their families.
    • Declining productivity of the asset base on which livelihood systems are dependent. Agriculture, one of the primary livelihood sectors in rural India, is also one of the most climate-sensitive sectors. Erratic weather patterns, pest outbreak, increasing salinity and many more such factors leading to crop failure and erosion of the livelihood asset base are present . Further aggravating the situation is the lack of adequate market opportunities and financial support for these livelihood systems to readjust and rebuild.
    • Coastal livelihood systems have also been witnessing unprecedented changes and decline because of a changing oceanic ecosystem, unsustainable harvesting practices, fluctuating market and natural disasters. Cyclone Phailin (October 2013) in coastal Odisha has triggered large-scale out-migration of fishing communities. Further details are available at: http://m.thehindu.com/news/national/phailin-set-to-trigger-distress-migration-from-ganjam/article5239958.ece/ .
    • Mountain ecosystems and the livelihood systems are also facing a similar situation. The floods of 2013 in the Himalayas have posed a serious threat to a whole array of vibrant and well thriving livelihoods including that of pilgrimage tourism. Such natural disaster induced displacement and migration need to be well documented and these issues should be considered as part of the larger policy measures of Disaster Management and resilience building.
    • Appropriate disaster risk reduction (DRR) measures, including financial and risk transfer mechanisms, would address such issues of distress and forced migration. State Disaster Management Authorities (SDMAs) could catalyse discussion around these issues and influence appropriate policy changes.
    • Conflicts of various nature and intensity would be linked to migration. Competition over resources and opportunities and the tension between locals vs non-locals/outsiders (migrants) would make the process of migration a highly challenging and riskier endeavour and would further increase the vulnerability of the migrants.
    • Forced migration in the context of emerging humanitarian situations in the left wing extremisms (LWE) affected regions of India, which are coincidentally some of the most natural resource rich regions, poses unprecedented challenges to deal with the internally displaced population (IDP) and help them rebuild their livelihood in a situation where the entire livelihood asset is quite different from the one they have been living with and adapted to. The other challenge is with regard to addressing the adaptation needs of the development-induced displaced (DID) population in many parts of India.
    • The Foresight Report identifies five different but inter-linked mobility outcomes and proposes plausible policy measures to address these. A context specific set of mobility outcomes taking in to account the larger geographical and socio-political and cultural dimensions of India could be developed to better inform climate change adaptation policies.
    • Of significant importance is the rate of urbanization in India and the expanding economic opportunities, which attracts and absorbs a large chunk of migrants from rural India. Urban development policies need to innovate appropriate institutional mechanisms ensuring availability of and accessibility to facilities of health, water, electricity, housing and education. Further marginalization and discrimination in the cities would not only increase their economic vulnerability but will also impact the well-being of their families and dependents back home.
    • Climate adaptation and mitigation initiatives in the cities, which attracts substantial investments from the private sector through emerging business opportunities, could be better designed and developed to further facilitate skill development of the migrants to prepare them for new and emerging sectors in a low-carbon economy.
    • Private sector could play a leading role in this through innovation and exploring new market opportunities at the bottom of the pyramid. A report (Opportunities for Private Sector Engagement in Urban Climate Change Resilience Building. Intellcap, 2010), supported by the Rockefeller Foundation as part of the Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network (ACCCRN), identifies a set of economic opportunities for the private sector in the urban resilience programme. Such opportunities could further be explored and supported to help better integrate the migrants in to the overall urban economy.

    The proposed workshop is a timely initiative to further explore the inter-linkages and emerging dynamics of migration in India in the context of global environmental change. This would also help to identify and explore new opportunities for inter-departmental and inter-ministerial coordination to address some of the issues mentioned above.



    Swayamprabha Das, New Delhi

    Climate change will significantly affect migration in three distinct ways:

    • First, the effects of warming and drying in some regions will reduce agriculture potentials and undermine ‘ecosystem services’ such as clean water and fertile soil.
    • Second, the increase in extreme weather events-in particular, heavy precipitation and resulting flash or river floods in tropical regions.
    • Finally, sea level rise will permanently destroy extensive and highly productive low-laying coastal areas that are home to millions of people who will have to relocate permanently.

    In addition to this, in many countries, one cumulative impact of climate change will be to increase the potential for violent conflict. People have started arguing that the Darfur conflict that caused massive scale of displacement began as an ecological crisis, arising at least in part from climate change.

    In this relation the Fourth Assessment Report of IPCC (IPCC AR4), published in 2007, outlines climate change impacts in six main areas: ecosystem; food; water; health; coasts; and industry, settlement and society.

    The IPCC Assessment Reports also recognizes that the developing countries and the poorest people will suffer the most from climate change because of unfavourable geography, limited assets, and a greater dependence on climate-sensitive sources of income, like agriculture.

    Some of the impacts could be in the form of new challenges and others could emerge as old threats made more severe by climate change. For instance, along with other extreme weather events like flooding and tropical cyclone, sea level rise is an impending threat to the coastal areas in Bangladesh which has long and densely populated coastlines with many low-lying remote islands.

    In the severe climate change scenario, sea level rise poses an existential threat that would inundate low lying areas, in particular- 18 percent of Bangladesh’s total land, directly impacting 11 percent of the country’s population. Salt water intrusion from sea level rise in low-lying agricultural plains, along with other hazards, could lead to 40 percent decrease in food grain production and would increase forced migration to the urban slum areas. Ingress of salt water into the aquifer is also an added threat.

    Estimates show that with just a 1 to 2 degree increase in temperature would force physical dislocation of more than 35 million people in Bangladesh. It’s a question of survival for such low-laying coastal countries and low-laying islands nations, for instance it’s a concern of existence of the people of the Maldives that are located only few meters above sea level.

    Reports suggests, about 85 per cent of the Maldives’ main island, which contains the capital Male, would be swamped. Most of the Maldives would be turned into sandbars, forcing 300,000 people to flee to India or Sri Lanka, or any other country of choice! Vietnam could lose 500,000 hectares of land in the Red River Delta and another 2 million hectares in the Mekong Delta, displacing roughly 10 million people. In West Africa, up to 70 per cent of the Nigerian coast would be inundated by a one-meter rise, affecting more than 2.7 million hectares and pushing some beaches three kilometers inland. Gambia’s capital, Banjul, would be entirely submerged. In the Mediterranean, Egypt would lose at least 2 million hectares of land in the fertile Nile Delta, displacing 8–10 million people, including nearly the entire population of Alexandria. The demise of this historic city would cost the country over $32 billion, close to a third of its annual gross national product (GNP) in 1999. South American cities would suffer some of the worst economic effects. In Guyana 600,000 people would be displaced – 80 per cent of the population. The cost would be $4 billion, or 1,000 per cent of Guyana’s tiny GNP.

    The results of modelling longer-term changes in coastlines as a result of rising sea-levels suggest that governments may be required to support mass movements of coastal population. Some recent studies already suggested that climate change induced migrants could potentially cross international borders. For example, the Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre Global Strategic Trend Programme of the UK’s Ministry of Defence foresee large migration flows from sub-Saharan Africa towards Mediterranean, the Middle East and Europe between 2007 and 2036.

    The German Advisory Council of Global Change projects mass migration to the United States from the Caribbean islands and Central America and many migration flows within Central America.

    Meantime, in light of this looming climate migration crisis, many international humanitarian organizations, CSOs and, even the governments of the at-risk countries are demanding protection and resettlement of the forced migrants work in practice.

    For instance, in August 2006, the government of the Maldives organized a meeting of the representatives of governments, environmental and humanitarian organizations and United Nations organizations on the resettlement and protection of ‘climate refugees’.

    Therefore, it is important to mainstream environment and climate change considerations into migration management policy and practices, and to bring forced migration issues into global environmental and climate change discourse. The protection of climate refugees should be seen as a global problem and a global responsibility.

    Further details are available in the paper which can be found at: http://www.glogov.org/images/doc/equitybd.pdf .



    Ramesh Kumar Jalan, United Nations Development Programme, New Delhi

    Based on the Query on Managing the Challenge of Climate and Natural Disaster Refugees – Experiences; Examples, posted in November, 2011, the following points related to migration and its nexus with environmental / climate change were highlighted:

    • There is a great deal of uncertainty regarding the linkages between migration and climate change as there are often multiple and complex reasons leading to migration. However, it is essential to develop policies, plans and programs that would help tackle the challenge of climate change and natural disaster refugees.
    • Migrants and refugees not only need material support but a great deal of rehabilitation in terms of trauma and cultural dislocation. Therefore, suitable provisions for counselling and enhancing the cultural acceptance of migrants would be required.
    • India can cope with the challenge of feeding the climate refugees by increasing the areas under agriculture and enhancing its productivity. As approximately 68.35 million hectare land in India is designated as wastelands and there is a need to utilize it for producing food.
    • Several developing countries including India are attractive investment destinations for Multi National Companies. Therefore, it is possible to mobilize private sector finance for developing programs and infrastructure for feeding & sheltering the climate and natural disaster refugees.
    • A public policy research & advocacy group is required on an urgent basis to suggest plans, policies and programs to tackle the challenge of climate change and natural disaster refugees. For example Centre for Policy research has a team focusing on climate change related public policy and is advocating for measures to enhance disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation in India.
    • Sustained effort and support from multiple agencies is required to ensure a safe and sustainable future for climate change and natural disaster refugees.


    Krishnan S. Raghavan, Technology Transfer Services Group, Asian and Pacific Centre for Transfer of Technology (APCTT), United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), New Delhi

     Extreme climate events – be it the result of environmental destruction by people, or naturally occurring changes in climate – are forcing people to flee their traditional place of residence with enormous sufferings in points of transit and the points of destination . ACR (Association for Climate Refugees), a network of NGOs have been making some efforts in seeking answers to basic questions, like how and where the people have been made refugees, who the refugees are, and how many there are.

    Mass scale forced displacement has been caused by tidal floods in the exposed coastal area and loss of land due to erosion in the main land river basins. The population living in South and South-East Asia on the coastline extending from the east coast of India to Myanmar have been buffeting by annual cyclones from the Bay of Bengal and ever increasing tidal floods.

    Cyclones not only result in human casualties and destruction of property, but also leave behind perpetual tidal floods. Notably, over the last few years deadly cyclones have been commonplace: Cyclone Sidr of 2007, Nargis of 2008, Aila of 2009, and Laila of 2010.

    Research reveals that the tidal flood water level has risen by 1 meter over 5 years (2004 to 2008) and it rose by an additional meter in 2009 and in 2010 it continues to rise further.

    Around one million people have been rendered homeless due to river erosion in the mainland river basins over the last three decades, as the Brahmaputra-Jamuna continues to widen because of obstruction from upstream sediment and poor downstream erosion management.

    NGOs affiliated with ACR working in the mainland river basin report observing people forced to flee their traditional place of residence due to increasing river erosion. Bangladesh is comprised of 64 districts, out of which 22 are at risk of climate-induced displacement.

    The poorer people who used to live in exposed locations are the climate refugees and they are 6 million in number as of May, 2010. The poorest people who live in the extremely exposed locations in the coastal belt and the mainland river basins of Bangladesh will be the first to become climate refugees in upcoming years.

    The remaining 397 upazilas, which are not dangerously exposed on the coastline, still are at sea-level and will perhaps generate another 2.1 million climate refugees. Thus, the total number of climate refugees in Bangladesh as of May 2010 stands at 6 million, out of which at least 1 million are living in Dhaka. The total number of climate refugees in Bangladesh is expected to increase to 7.5 million by the end of 2010.

    In one way or another, all exposed upazilas are generating climate refugees, but some are more immediately and particularly exposed..

    The Finance Minister of Bangladesh Government has said, “We are asking all our development partners to honour the natural right of persons to migrate. We can’t accommodate all these people – this is already the most  densely populated country in the world,” in a video interview with the Guardian. Repeated cyclones and tidal floods have substantially destroyed the life line of coastal dwellers.

    More than 200 NGOs in Bangladesh are working for the resettlement of the climate refugees. NGOs are continuing to negotiate projects with potential donors on climate refugee issues.


    Climate change is likely to lead to increase the number of climate refugees, and it is vital that evolving frameworks for climate change adaptation address this issue so that national and international communities can peacefully resettle climate refugees.

    Climate change ignores country borders making it a global problem; however, we cannot ignore country borders and have to begin to work regionally and globally for mutual benefits and interests. We welcome suggestions and assistance for effective and efficient resettlement of climate refugees.



    Jai Kumar Gaurav, New Delhi

    I am sharing with you the highlights of the paper on “Environmental change and migration: legal and political frameworks”, the abstract of which is available at: http://www.envplan.com/abstract.cgi?id=c1242j

    The above paper focuses on international legal norms and organizational roles and relations applicable to migration induced by environmental change.

    Movements stemming directly and indirectly from environmental factors related to climate change—including, for example, movements resulting from intensified drought and desertification affecting livelihoods, rising sea levels, intensified acute natural disasters, and competition for resources that result in intensified conflict are examined.

    The analysis focuses on the extent to which legal and institutional responses affect patterns of mobility, especially in slow-onset situations, and the extent to which governance, more generally, affects the likelihood that people will migrate as a result of environmental factors, especially in humanitarian emergencies.

    It concludes that immigration policies, governance, and the level of development in affected countries play a crucial role in determining the responses to natural hazards and conflict. They also help determine if migration poses technical or managerial challenges or presents political challenges.

    Given the current gaps in appropriate migration policies, more attention needs to be placed on identifying and testing new frameworks for managing potential movements. Attention needs to be given to both sides of the environment and migration nexus:

    • Identifying adaptation strategies that allow people to remain where they currently live and work;
    • Identifying migration and relocation strategies that protect people’s lives and livelihoods when they are unable to remain.
Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 24 total)

The forum ‘Understanding migration and global environmental change nexus in India’ is closed to new topics and replies.