Creating New Norms on Climate Change, Natural Disasters and Displacement: International Developments 2010-2013

By McAdam, Jane | Refuge, Spring 2014 | Go to article overview

Creating New Norms on Climate Change, Natural Disasters and Displacement: International Developments 2010-2013


McAdam, Jane, Refuge


Abstract

This article provides an account of attempts at the international level to develop a normative framework relating to climate change and migration from late 2010 to mid-2013. It traces the "catalytic effect" of paragraph 14(f) of the Cancun Adaptation Framework (adopted in December 2010), through to the concerted, but ultimately unsuccessful effort of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in 2011 to get states to agree to the formulation of a "global guiding framework" on displacement relating to climate change and natural disasters. Finally, the article discusses the creation of the state-led Nansen Initiative in late 2012--a tentative "first step" towards international policy-making in this field--and the outcomes of its first sub-regional consultation in the Pacific in May 2013.

Resume

Cet article rend compte des tentatives, au niveau international, de developper un cadre normatif dans le domaine des changements climatiques et de la migration, qui ont eu lieu entre la fin de 2010 et le milieu de 2013. II retrace Feffet catalyseur du paragaphe 14(f) du Cancun Adaptation Framework (adopte en decembre 2010) par le biais des efforts concertes du Haut Commissariat des Nations Unies pour les refugies, mais qui non ultimement pas reussi a amener les etats a s'entendre sur la formulation d'un cadre de travail global en matiere de deplacements dus aux changements climatiques et aux desastres environnementaux. Cet article discute enfin de la creation de ITnitiative

Nansen vers la fin de 2012--un essai de premiere etape vers Fetablissement de politiques internationales dans le domaine--et des resultats de sa premiere consultation regionale dans le Pacifique en mai 2013.

Introduction

Over the past six or so years, a wealth of research has been published on the relationship between climate change and displacement. In part catalyzed by the publication of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's fourth assessment report in 2007, (1) scholars have sought to gather and refine empirical data about the impacts of climate change on human movement in particular regions and sub-regions of the world and to understand the role that climate change plays in driving such movement. While it is impossible to universalize the research findings, there is now a consensus on the following issues. First, climate change affects migration but cannot be isolated as the sole cause of movement. Rather, it interacts with and overlays other economic, social, and political drivers (or stressors) that themselves affect migration. It is a multi-causal phenomenon. Second, and closely linked to the previous point, climate change-related movement migration is a part of global migration dynamics generally, rather than a discrete, independent category, and it needs to be understood within a wider development context, not just a humanitarian one. (2) Third, while adaptation can help to reduce vulnerability and enhance resilience, it is unlikely to stop the need for some migration. (3) Indeed, migration can be a form of adaptation and a rational coping strategy, although the extent to which it is used to "flourish," rather than just to "survive," depends upon a person's resilience. (4) Fourth, climate change-related displacement is likely to take different forms and will require a variety of responses at the local, national, regional, and international levels. (5) Comprehensive approaches are needed across government departments and international agencies. For instance, migration management should be linked with other policy objectives, including climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction, humanitarian responses, and sustainable development. Fifth, policies must be proactive, not just remedial, and there must be sufficient budgetary support for long-term planning. Finally, affected populations must be informed, consulted, and actively involved in decision-making and policy implementation through participatory processes. …

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