Climate Change and Migration – Policy approaches for a sustainable future

This report explores how the international community and the European Union (EU) have dealt with the issue of climate-driven migration and why we have yet to find adequate measures to respond to the challenge

On a global level, we see that climate change, environmental degradation and natural disasters are already causes of displacement. According to estimates from the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), 17.2 million people were newly displaced in 2018. This can be compared to the figure of 10.8 million displaced due to conflict or violence in the same year. The IDMC estimates that on average 24 million people have been displaced each year since 2008, due to different kinds of natural disaster.

Even if the majority of this migration is internal, there are still severe gaps in the international protection on a regional and international level which need to be adequately addressed. So what has hindered the international community from responding to the challenge? The report recognizes four main reasons to which we propose proactive measures:

  • The lack of a unified view on definitions and scope of the policy issue at stake.
  • The group of advocates and their complex roles.
  • The lack of forums to discuss and negotiate actions on climate-driven displacements.
  • Different types of resistance that has caused the process to occasionally stagnate.

About the authors

Elin Jakobsson, PhD, is a research fellow at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs and a teacher in International Relations at the Department of Economic History and International Relations at Stockholm University. Elin Jacobsson’s research concerns international norm dynamics, climate-induced migration, societal security norms, disaster risk reduction and global migration governance.

Research Institute of Sweden (RISE) is Sweden’s research institute and innovation partner. Through international collaboration programs with industry, academia and the public sector, RISE contributes to a sustainable society by engaging its 2,700 employees in all types of research and innovation processes.

Sten Stenbeck is a project developer and Senior Project Manager within the RISE division of Built Environment. Sten Stenbeck has more than 20 years’ experience in working as an advisor for society, business and civil society in the field of Climate Change and Global Sustainable Development

Kerstin Eriksson is a research fellow at RISE. She holds a PhD in engineering from Lund University. Kerstin Eriksson’s research focus is crisis management and climate change, as well as resilience, preparedness, prevention and organization.

Fredrik von Matérn (MSc) is a political scientist within the fields of Environmental Social Science and Asian Studies. He was part of the RISE Junior Field Officer program in China during the writing of this book and has previously been part of the team at Fores.


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Hedvig Heijne
Project leader, Integration and Migration Program

Therese Lindström
Director, Integration and Migration Program