In 2017, the number of forcibly displaced people globally rose to 68.5 million. By 2050, experts predict a significant rise in the number of environmental migrants worldwide – a number that comes in addition to the refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people that will continue to flee their homes out of a fear of persecution. This early warning creates a unique opportunity for governments, the private sector and civil society to prepare for the changes to come and to seek out opportunities to curb destruction and loss of life.
This debate is part of Friends of Europe’s Migration Action programme, which aims to examine the imperative of migration in the context of economic sustainability and demographics, as well as its impact on public services, communities and security. This Policy Insight will allow speakers and participants to contemplate current and future climate change-induced migration trends, with the aim of offering concrete proposals on ways forward.
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Welcome and registration of participants
Future flows: forecasting and responding to environmental migration
Predictions about the future of climate change-induced migration vary widely, with experts citing the potential for 25 million to 1 billion environmental migrants by 2050, with 200 million the most widely agreed upon estimate. By looking to environmental drivers of migration as they stand now – such as crop failure, rising sea levels and drought – policymakers around the world may be able to work ahead of the curve to prevent loss of life, to ensure safe and regular migration flows and to prepare their societies for such possible disruptions. As environmental migrants additionally fall outside the legal definition of a ‘refugee’, and are therefore not afforded the same protections, is a new framework needed to fill this gap?
- Given that environmental migrants are not protected under international refugee law, what initiatives should be set into motion now to ensure that they receive sufficient protection in the future?
- With most environmental migration likely to take place within countries and regions, how are policymakers, the private sector and civil society around the world preparing for future migration flows?
- How can early warning systems designed for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) be used to develop initiatives encouraging resilience in affected regions?
Nazhat Shameem Khan, Ambassador of the Permanent Mission of Fiji to International Organizations in Geneva and Chief Negotiator for the Fijian COP23 Presidency
Caroline Zickgraf, Deputy Head of the Hugo Observatory – Environment, Migration, Politics at the University of Liège
Dharmendra Kanani, Director of Strategy at Friends of Europe
End of debate
Amanda Rohde, Programme Manager
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