Climate change and migrationClimate change is therefore a driver of migration and conflict, especially in regions in which vital resources are especially scarce. In the last 20 years, climate events and related disasters have increased in frequency and severity; approximately 1.3 million people have died and the global economy has lost $3 trillion as a result. In 2018 alone, 17.2 million people were displaced by natural disasters such as hurricanes, cyclones and flooding; many are unable to return home.
The UN recommends addressing climate change by cutting greenhouse emissions, improving resilience and improving education on climate change. Through these actions, the impact of climate change can be minimized and the likelihood of displacement and conflict averted. This recommendation is one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, which form the backbone of its 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The UN set these goals in 2015 in a range of areas including poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice.
The UN’s current focus is therefore on mitigating further climate migration rather than expanding the definition of refugees or creating a specific legal status for climate migrants. This places climate migrants in a vulnerable position when migrating across, though as the UN notes, the majority of migration is within countries rather than cross-border. However, it seems reasonable to expect that if extreme weather events increase in frequency and severity, migration across longer distances and across borders will increase. This raises multiple challenges, not least from an intercultural perspective.
BAMIK's commitmentAs a consultancy and training provider in intercultural communication, BAMIK regularly works with refugees who have come to Germany to escape conflict and find safety. We work both to help these people settle into their new surroundings and help local communities and organizations adapt to new neighbors, colleagues or employees. Climate migrants may face new challenges in adapting because of their unique legal and economic status. The need for mediation and intercultural communication skills may therefore grow in response to the new challenges posed by this increased instability and migration.
Future trends in migration depend on the UN’s success in limiting climate change and mitigating the effects of climate events and climate-based conflict. Its promotion of the International Day of Peace is just one element in its strategy to achieve its ambitions by 2030.
For more information on the 2019 International Day of Peace, click here (external link).
For more information on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, click here (external link).