Migration and Climate Change

By Oli Brown on April 3, 2008

This short book analyzes the prospect of large-scale forced migration as a result of climate change and attempts to estimate the developmental impact of potentially millions of people displaced by coastal flooding, extreme weather events and agricultural disruption.

In 1990, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) noted that the greatest single impact of climate change could be on human migration, with millions of people displaced by shoreline erosion, coastal flooding and agricultural disruption. Since then, various analysts have tried to put numbers on these flows of climate migrants—the most widely repeated prediction being 200 million by 2050. The study points out the scientific basis for climate change is increasingly well established, and confirms current predictions as to the `carrying capacity' in large parts of the world will be compromised by climate change. But although it is defined as a growing crisis, the consequences of climate change for human population are unclear and unpredictable.

This report focuses on the possible future scenarios for forced migration as a result of climate change—looking to increase awareness and find answers to the challenges that lie ahead.

It was written for the International Organisation for Migration's Migration Research Series (no.31) and developed from a thematic paper originally written for the 2007/2008 Human Development Report of the UNDP, "Fighting Climate Change: Human Solidarity in a Divided World."

A link to the IOM publications page can be found here.

Publication details

IOM, 2008