Climate change is a new driver of human migration that many people expect will dwarf all others in its impact. While the effects of climate change on migration have generated significant attention, some of the most commonly repeated predictions of the numbers of people who will be displaced are not informed by an understanding of migration dynamics. Displacement is almost always a result of a complex mix of factors; people adapt to changes and governments (and a few other powerful actors) can influence what kind of movements take place in response to environmental changes.
From earthquakes to drought, natural disasters and climate change played a key role in migration flows in 2015. Climate-induced migration surfaced as a concern at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (known as COP21) as international organizations and policymakers have begun to recognize the growing challenges, and potential protection obligations, of such movement.
Even as Nepal will lean more heavily on its international diaspora to help recover from devastating earthquakes that killed thousands and decimated parts of the country, the disasters have had effects on internal migration. Class and gender dynamics have long driven significant internal flows. This feature article explores migration trends in Nepal, including movement between ecological zones, growing urbanization, and the feminization of an increasingly mobile workforce.
Numerous researchers and organizations have predicted that climate change will trigger historically unprecedented waves of mass migration. MPI's Carolina Fritz examines the complex links between climate change and migration, how and where these links influence current and future migration patterns, and some of the problems with predicting future flows.
Migrants' networks and relatively small travel distances help explain migration from one developing country to another. Dilip Ratha and William Shaw of the World Bank look at these and other reasons for and effects of South-South migration.
In the early 1990s, Ethiopians who had been living in refugee camps in Sudan began to return home. As Laura C. Hammond of Clark University explains, they created a new community in an unfamiliar part of Ethiopia that is thriving 12 years later.
The impact of climate change as a driver of human migration is expected by many to dwarf all others. Still, certain frequently repeated forecasts of the number of people who stand to be displaced by climate change are not informed by a complete understanding of migration dynamics, as this report explains.