Climate Change and Migration: Converging Issues, Diverging Funding

Host Organization: Migration Policy Institute


François Gemenne, Director, Hugo Observatory on Environment, Migration, and Politics, University of Liège

Dorothea Rischewski, Head of Programme, Global Programme Sustainable Management of Human Mobility in the Context of Climate Change, GIZ (German Corporation for International Cooperation)

Moa Westman, Social Development-Climate Action Coordinator and Gender Specialist, European Investment Bank

Hanne Beirens, Director, MPI Europe

While climate change and migration remain high on political agendas in Europe, the exact link between the two remains uncertain. Without clarity on how different climate events might lead to more human mobility (or conversely, immobility), it is difficult for migration policymakers and development actors to align their efforts and ensure they are spending resources wisely. Investments in climate adaptation, for instance, which aim to build communities’ resilience to cope with environmental stress, have only recently begun to take human mobility into account. And so far, adaptation activities make up only a small part of Europe’s formidable climate spending.

The COVID-19 pandemic only adds to the urgency of finding innovative financing tools for climate adaptation and migration. Many of the adaptation strategies policymakers previously applied to support communities affected by sudden-onset floods or slow-onset desertification are now obsolete, for example as physical distancing requirements have complicated evacuation and relocation. And because the issue cuts across different policy portfolios, it is difficult to assign clear responsibilities.

This MPI Europe discussion will explore different migration policy options related to climate adaptation and shed light on the evolving landscape of climate finance tools. Speakers will also examine what funding gaps and opportunities exist for collaboration with partner countries and what funding instruments might address the most pressing needs. The conversation will also explore the implications of COVID-19 for migration and climate adaptation funding approaches.

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