Migration – a positive adaptation method

Photo: ActionAid

Migration ought to be seen as a legitimate and effective method of adapting to climate change and a positive endeavor, not negative.

This became the main message to take away from the multilogue in Dhaka jointly organised yesterday (14 November 2015) by ActionAid Bangladesh and Norwegian Refugee Councils, where the research paper ‘Community Resilience and Disaster-related Displacement in South Asia’ was launched.

Globally, 19.3 million people were displaced due to climate change and natural disasters in 2015, says Norwegian Refugee Council sources. Since 2008, an average of 26.4 million people has been displaced by disasters each year. That is one person displaced every second.

South Asia a one of the world’s region most hit by climate change Alone in Bangladesh, riverbank erosions and floods displace 400 thousand people a year.

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For the displaced communities, migration is an adaptation strategy and coping mechanism to upkeep a livelihood.

Dr. Saleemul Huq, Director of International Centre for Climate Change and Development, pointed out that the present global conversation on migration is misleading:

While migration is a viable solution for millions of displaced people around the world, it’s wrongly being framed as a problem. On a global level we got to start talking about migration as part of adaptation.

Md. Shahidul Haque, Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, called for a global mechanism to tackle migration:

People are on the move all over the world. It’s an individual endeavour influenced by bigger circumstances, one of them being the changing climate. Bangladesh is pushing for the development of an international policy framework that will facilitate the adaptive capacity of migration rather than inhibiting it.

Receiving nods by the participants and making the journalists grab their note pads, Dr. Huq said:

If Europe thinks it faces migration crises at the moment, it has seen nothing yet, unless something dramatically changes in the way we tackle climate change.

The two researchers behind the displacement report Dr. Mi Zhou and Dorien Braam pointed out that by far the greatest number of the community members they interviewed in nine South Asian countries say that they prefer to stay in their present location. Migration is one of the last adaptation options they turn to.

The paper ‘Community Resilience and Disaster-related Displacement in South Asia’ is based on research in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.