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Briefing Note: Human Mobility in National Adaptation Plans

This briefing note assesses how human mobility is featured and addressed in National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) uploaded to the UNFCCC NAP Central database.


Human mobility increasingly takes place in the context of climate change. Accordingly, climate action and policy processes need to incorporate human mobility and acknowledge the different ways in which it can become relevant: as an adaptation strategy, as an obstacle to long-term resilience, as maladaptation, or as a form of climate-induced loss and damage (L&D).

National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) are a key part of the national adaptation planning process and connected to both global and domestic policy frameworks.

Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Paris Agreement are currently in various phases of the NAP process, including readiness, stocktaking, development, implementation, M&E, updating, and reporting.

Therefore, it is important to consider the central role of NAPs for adaptation action as well as for managing human mobility in safe, orderly, and adaptive ways through inclusive, participatory, and equitable approaches which could prevent harmful forms of mobility.

This weADAPT article is an abridged version of the original text, which can be downloaded from the right-hand column. The key messages from the publication are provided below, but please access the original text for more detail, research purposes, full references, or to quote text.


The information contained in this updated briefing note is based on an analysis of NAPs that have been submitted to the UNFCCC NAP Central database, extensive supporting desk research, and inputs received from various experts and key stakeholders during a series of virtual, hybrid, and in-person events hosted by SLYCAN Trust.

National adaptation planning and human mobility

Out of 53 NAPs submitted to the UNFCCC’s NAP Central (as of February 2024), 85% reference one or more forms of human mobility. However, only 66% of NAPs contain concrete provisions or commitments to address mobility in some way.

As NAPs serve as key means of identifying and addressing countries’ adaptation needs and developing national strategies and programmes, the integration of human mobility into all their key steps and elements (see Figure below) is crucial to ensure that climate-related mobility can be addressed, managed, prevented, or facilitated as part of a holistic policy framework that connects the local, national, and global level and includes data collection, implementation, localization, monitoring and evaluation, and reporting.

For a more detailed examination of the potential ways to integrate human mobility into the NAP process, please see our scoping paper.

Stocktake of human mobility in submitted NAPs

The briefing note includes a stocktake of human mobility considerations in the 45 NAPs that include any reference to either migration, disaster displacement, or planned relocation (85% of NAPs submitted to the UNFCCC so far). Out of these 45 NAPs, 40% come from countries in Africa, 28% from Latin America and the Caribbean, and 26% from the Asia-Pacific region. The most referenced forms of human mobility in them is displacement (74%) followed by migration (68%) and relocation (55%). 58% of NAPs that reference migration also include concrete provisions to address it, as compared to 51% of NAPs that reference displacement, and 83% of NAPs that reference relocation.

Regional distribution of NAPs with references to forms of human mobility

Categories of identified actions

The mobility-related commitments included in the NAPs submitted so far can be clustered into several common categories of actions. Beyond the strengthening of data, planning, and the enabling or policy environment, these categories cover a range of positive and negative aspects of human mobility through the protection of migrants, host communities, and families staying behind; the prevention of maladaptive forms of mobility; and the facilitation of mobility as an adaptation strategy.

Lessons Learnt

NAPs can have simultaneous or interconnected purposes or functions, including:

  • Coordinating adaptation efforts on the national and sub-national level and serving as a policy keystone for data collection, planning, implementation, M&E, and reporting, potentially also including actions of non-government stakeholders.
  • Formulating and detailing adaptation components of the country’s NDCs.
  • Facilitating access to funding for readiness, preparation, and implementation of adaptation action, including from the GCF.

In the context of human mobility, this means that NAPs can unlock synergies in several ways:

  • Accessing funding to better address climate-related human mobility.
  • Providing a platform to connect climate change adaptation and human mobility with relevant sectoral processes, such as those on migration, disaster displacement, disaster risk reduction, health, or education.
  • Mainstreaming cross-cutting considerations, such as those related to gender, age, poverty, or disability.

By identifying these connections and enhancing coherence, coordination, and exchange, NAPs can directly access levers of change to facilitate safe, secure, orderly, legal, and adaptive forms of mobility.

Further research is also needed to evaluate best practices and impact of current mobility-related actions in NAPs, as well as to systematically assess linkages between national adaptation planning, human mobility, and other processes related to climate change adaptation and L&D, such as the Global Goal on Adaptation or the Task Force on Displacement and the work on human mobility under the Warsaw International Mechanism on L&D.

Suggested citation

SLYCAN Trust (2024). Briefing Note: Human Mobility in National Adaptation Plans. Colombo, Sri Lanka: SLYCAN Trust (GTE) Ltd.

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