Climate change and forced migration in mountain areas: What are the solutions?
In celebration of International Mountain Day 2021
Forced migration and disaster displacement are among the most devastating consequences of climate change. The relationship between migration and the environment, especially in mountain areas, is not a new phenomenon. While mountain communities have long resorted to migration as a strategy to cope with limited resources and opportunities, forced migration due to climate change is increasingly affecting mountains and communities both upland and lowlands. Climate-related disasters and catastrophic events such as abnormally heavy rainfall, floods, storms, cyclones, droughts, or wildfires are threatening traditional landscapes and livelihoods of entire communities.
Migrants, internally displaced persons (IDPs), refugees, and stateless persons are impacted the most by the climate crisis, as they often lack the resources to adapt to an increasingly hostile environment. According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), on average, every year more than 20 million people have to leave their homes and relocate to a safer place, with many forced to cross borders as refugees. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has repeatedly warned about the nexus between climate emergency and migration patterns. The World Bank (WB) has estimated that climate migrants will reach 143 million by 2050 in three regions of the world – Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, and Southeast Asia – if no action is taken.
The migration creates complex humanitarian and development challenges that call for urgent action and strong political leadership to deal to with these challenges. Parliamentarians should make sure that mountain resilience is a priority in their countries. Parliaments, with their core legislative, oversight, budgetary and representation functions, are key to ensuring the implementation of international commitments, and alignment with national and regional strategies.
This webinar discussed migration and internal displacement due to climate change in mountain areas and explored ways to enhance mountain communities’ resilience and capacity to adapt by addressing some of the root causes of climate migration. The event aimed to:
- Increase awareness of how climate change is impacting mobility in mountain regions and knowledge on the importance of enhancing community resilience and promoting climate change adaptation in mountain regions.
- Identify opportunities and share good practices of parliamentarians to play a more active role in the alignment and harmonization of national policies to address migration in the context of climate change, disasters and mobility.
- Launch the Adaptation at Altitude Solutions Portal, a collection of climate adaptation solutions and projects implemented around the world.
- Michelle Yonetani, Senior Policy Officer, UNHCR
- Maia Bitadze, Member of Parliament, Georgia
- Christine Kaaya Nakimwero, Member of Parliament, Uganda
- Julia Barrott, Knowledge Manager, SEI
- Kareen Jabre, Director, Division of Programmes, IPU
- Christian Bréthaut, Assistant Professor, University of Geneva
The main target audience for this webinar were parliamentarians and parliamentary staff. However, the webinar was also open to other participants including experts supporting the work of parliaments, international organizations, non-governmental organizations, and development practitioners and researchers.
Event platform and language
The event was hosted on Zoom in English, with simultaneous interpretation in French and Spanish.
This webinar was organized by the Inter-Parliamentary Union and Adaptation at Altitude, a programme which strives to increase the resilience and adaptive capacity of mountain communities and ecosystems to climate change. The programme is funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and implemented by the University of Geneva, the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and Zoï Environment Network, in partnership with the Inter-Parliamentary Union.