New York: United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
There is increasing interest in the issue of migration’s links to climate change and environmental degradation. In the coming decades climate change will adversely affect a large percentage of the world’s population. Although there is still much uncertainty, it is certain that migration is a fundamental strategy to adapt to the adverse effects of ecological change and to increase social resilience. The UK government’s Foresight report on Migration and Global Environmental Change represented a landmark in providing some empirical evidence on the links between migration and environmental change. Among its conclusions it noted that rather than being a direct driver of migration, environmental change – whether sudden or slow-onset – interacts with socioeconomic, cultural, political and demographic drivers of migration in complex ways. Ecological change does not automatically lead to more migration as there are also certain segments of the population who may lack the necessary resources to migrate. These “trapped populations” bear the brunt of the adverse effects of ecological change. Children, adolescents and youth are central to the environment-migration nexus. Youths are among the most likely to migrate as families seek to adapt to the effects of environmental change by sending a member elsewhere to seek work and send back remittances. Furthermore, children and adolescents are often a key segment of the trapped population. Demographic trends suggest that low- and middle-income countries likely to suffer the effects of climate change will simultaneously face a huge “youth bulge”.
This report addresses some methodological challenges concerning research on the role of children, adolescents and youths in the environment-migration-nexus. It requires validation in the field in order to adjust its breadth, applicability and relevance to different contexts in which migration and climate/environmental change/degradation takes place.