Migration and Global Environmental Change: Future Challenges and Opportunities
, from the UK Government Office for Science’s Foresight Programme
, looks at how environmental change, including climate change, land degradation, and the degradation of coastal and marine ecosystems, over the next 50 years will affect migration trends. The report emphasizes that migration is a complex and multi-causal phenomenon, which makes it difficult to differentiate environmental migrants as a distinct group. Nevertheless, research suggests that global environmental changes will affect the drivers of migration
, particularly economic forces, such as rural wages and agricultural productivity.
Though Foresight finds that many will use migration as an adaptation strategy that improves resilience to environmental change, they also point out that some affected individuals may become “trapped” in vulnerable situations, lacking the financial capacity to respond to environmental changes, while others may be able to move but will inadvertently enter more exposed areas, particularly, at risk urban centers. For recommendations, they stress the importance of strategic, long-term urban planning, and recognition within adaptation and development policies that migration can be part of the solution.
A study, released on December 5 by Minority Rights Group International, finds that minority communities in Kenya, Uganda, and South Sudan face significant challenges around access to and control of critical natural resources. The report, Land, Livelihoods, and Identities: Inter-Community Conflicts in East Africa, shows how rapid population growth, climate change, and globalization are increasing competition for land, water, and forest and mineral resources in territories traditionally occupied by minority groups. These pressures can undermine livelihoods and trigger multiple and overlapping conflicts, especially where ownership has not been formalized in law. The study also notes that women are doubly vulnerable as their access to land and resources is frequently mediated through customary law, which depends on their communities retaining control over traditional territory. Although the report makes national-level legal and policy recommendations, the authors note that some of the most effective resource management and conflict resolution strategies adapt traditional cultural practices to the current circumstances of communities.