Climate migration, mitigation or pathways to political conflict (pragmatic solutions to climate adaptation or political trouble ahead?)

Valerie Mueller, Halvard Buhaug, Tasneem Siddiqui
Event date
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16:00 - 17:15
Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) - Online via Zoom
Event type
Lectures and seminars
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Migration and Employment Opportunities During Adverse Climate Events
Valerie Mueller

Migration has been used as a strategy to adapt to economic distress historically. In fact, popular literary novels in the U.S. provide vivid imagery of the economic and social circumstances of environmental migrants and concerns over their integration in receiving communities. While climate change brings similar issues to the forefront today, the conventional narrative excludes discussion of key constraints that trap populations, such as imperfections in labour and capital markets. Moreover, national policies and interventions alter the feasibility of migration as an adaptation strategy. Dr Mueller sheds light on how these constraints are likely to affect future migration responses to climate change in low- and middle-income countries drawing from her recent publications.

Valerie Mueller received her Ph.D. in Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of Maryland. She is currently an Associate Professor in the School of Politics and Global Studies at Arizona State University (ASU). Prior to joining ASU, she was an economist at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), and an Earth Institute Postdoctoral Fellow at Columbia University. Dr Mueller has devoted her career to measuring rural household vulnerability to climate variability in Africa and Asia. Her recent interest is to identify the impacts of sea level rise on factors that influence location choice in the U.S. and Bangladesh.

Climatic conditions are weak predictors of asylum migration
Halvard Buhaug

Recent research suggests that climate variability and change significantly affect forced migration, within and across borders. Yet, migration is also informed by a range of non-climatic factors, and current assessments are impeded by a poor understanding of the relative importance of these determinants. Here, we evaluate the eligibility of climatic conditions relative to economic, political, and contextual factors for predicting bilateral asylum migration to the European Union - a form of forced migration that has been causally linked to climate variability. Results from a machine-learning prediction framework reveal that drought and temperature anomalies are weak predictors of asylum migration, challenging simplistic notions of climate-driven refugee flows. Instead, core contextual characteristics shape latent migration potential whereas political violence and repression are the most powerful predictors of time-varying migration flows. Future asylum migration flows are likely to respond much more to political changes in vulnerable societies than to climate change.

Halvard Buhaug is Research Professor at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO); Professor of Political Science at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology; and Associate Editor of Journal of Peace Research. He leads a number of research projects on the security dimensions of climate change, funded by the European Commission and other international and Norwegian funders. Recent publications include journal articles in, inter alia, Global Environmental Change, Journal of Politics, Nature, PNAS, and World Development. He is lead author in the Working Group II contribution to the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (2022).

Impact of COVID-19 on Climate Change Related Internal and International Migrants of selected South Asian countries
Tasneem Siddiqui

COVID-19 has had a devastating effect on the world of work. This presentation looks into impact of COVID 19 on those group of workers of South Asia who migrated earlier in the context of multifaceted challenges of climate change. Studies show that all over the world migrant workers, both internal and international, have borne the consequences of the health pandemic more severely than the local workforce. Closure of work places, sudden loss of income and employment, wage-theft, lack of access to health care, involuntary return, using unsafe routes and means of transportation etc. are just a few examples. Upon return to their places of origin, these groups of migrants, along with locals, faced multiple stresses created by climate related disasters. Soon after the outbreak of COVID-19, cyclone Amphan hit both India and Bangladesh sides of Sundarbans. Cyclone Nisarga hit Maharashtra and Gujrat, monsoon rains inundated a quarter of Bangladesh, part of North Western State of Assam of India, parts of Nepal and Bhutan. This presentation reveals that COVID-19 has affected different groups of climate related migrants differently, depending on type of migration, age and gender of migrants, nature of hazards, level of the concerned state’s ability to undertake inclusive interventions etc. The presentation is primarily based on the recent ILO publication “Impact of COVID-19 on nexus between climate change and labour migration in selected South Asian countries”.

Tasneem Siddiqui is Professor of Political Science, University of Dhaka and Founding Chair of the Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU). Her works on climate change adaptation and migration, drivers and impact of internal and international labour migration, migration governance, and safe and sustainable cities inclusive of migrants have been published in various journals and edited volumes. She led the drafting of the National Strategy for Internal Displacement in Bangladesh, 2021, the Overseas Employment Policy 2006 and was a committee member that prepared the first draft of the Overseas Employment and Migrants Act of 2013. She is the Member Secretary of the government committee that is preparing the Action Plan to implement the National Strategy on Internal Displacement. She is on the Global Editorial Board of the journal Migration Studies, Oxford University Press. Dr Siddiqui is also serving as a Member in the Advisory Committee of the Platform on Disaster Displacement (PDD) and the Board of Trustees of the Bangladesh Chapter of Transparency International.