Statement at Thematic Session on Addressing drivers of migration, including adverse effects of climate change, natural disasters and human made crisis

Delivered at the Thematic Session: Addressing drivers of migration, including adverse effects of climate change, natural disasters and human made crisis in New York City, United States of America.

Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Those who are already vulnerable feel the impacts of climate change and natural disasters most acutely. Climate change can make a precarious existence untenable, leading to displacement within countries and across borders.
My intervention will focus on three points.

First, quantifying climate induced migration is complex, as climate change interacts with other migration drivers, worsening environmental stresses and climate-related natural disasters. Globally, natural disasters displaced 19.2 million people across 113 countries in 2015. While Asia-Pacific is the region most prone to natural disasters and highly vulnerable to climate change, the number of people affected by natural disasters fluctuates annually. For example, slow-onset and extreme weather events displaced 13.2 million people in Asia in 2009, compared to 31.8 million in 2010 and 10.7 million in 2011. As climate change intensifies, more work will be required to understand interactions, quantify impacts and enhance data to better inform policymakers.

Second, different drivers and vulnerabilities will lead to varying migration paths and outcomes. People affected by climate change will face more intense natural disasters, and will have to undertake post-disaster reconstruction, develop viable livelihoods in origin or destination communities, and navigate legal migration frameworks. Some may be forced into protracted displacement; while some may move in anticipation of disasters or changes. The most vulnerable populations may not be able to move at all.

Third, a “one-size-fits-all” approach will not effectively resolve the complex nature and patterns of climate induced migration. Instead, efforts must be focused on developing a multifaceted, comprehensive and coherent approach to manage safe and orderly migration, grounded in human rights.

Although there is no internationally-recognized legal framework to guide climate induced cross-border migration, national responses should be guided by the international human rights regime, the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement and the Agenda for the Protection of Cross-Border Displaced Persons in the Context of Disasters and Climate Change.

In conclusion, the UN’s regional commissions are well positioned to assist in developing regional approaches to manage climate induced migration. To this end, we have undertaken research, facilitated dialogue and supported Member States in developing integrated solutions and better capacities to address future migration challenges.

I thank you.