Shrinking Home Lands: How Island and Archipelagic States address climate migration

 
09/04/2020 – Small Island and archipelagic States are amongst those who feel climate change impacts the earliest and the severest. Their livelihoods at risk, people face the decision to move to safer grounds. A new report by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research for the German Cooperation agency GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit) has now scrutinised policy responses by the States to migration in the context of climate change and provides policy recommendations.
Shrinking Home Lands: How Island and Archipelagic States address climate migration
Palau (Photo: Kurt Cotaga/Unsplash)

Climate impacts like sea level rise, ocean acidification, tropical cyclones or water scarcity are felt regularly in Island and Archipelagic states from the Caribbean to South Asia. For people living on these shores, moving is one of the ways to adapt to these changes. A complex set of motivations may lead them to the next village, city, capital or even abroad. A team of researchers led by Kira Vinke from the Potsdam Institute now provides a detailed analysis of relevant factors as well as governments’ responses with regard to policy solutions addressing human mobility in the context of climate change.

They investigated nine island and archipelagic countries heavily affected by climate impacts, including the Eastern Caribbean, the South Pacific, and the Philippines in the Western Pacific. Based on over 90 expert interviews and regional literature reviews, the report finds that climate change induced mobility is a cross-cutting policy issue, which makes tackling it so complicated, requiring an extraordinary amount of coordination, cooperation and communication. In addressing this challenge, they conclude, it is key to set a strategic direction, abate risks where possible, improve data availability and involve all relevant stakeholders, such as civil society and NGOs.