Migration and Environmental Change: Assessing the Developing European Approach
This policy brief explores the relationship between environmental change and migration to Europe in light of recent scholarship suggesting a much more complex and multi-causal link than previously assumed. Challenging the notion that environmental change triggers mass migration, it calls attention to a growing consensus that migration linked to environmental change must be contextualized within a broader framework of migration dynamics. It then presents an overview of European policy response in this area and summarizes the spectrum of proposed solutions before presenting the case for a new logic behind policy interventions based on a better understanding of evidence.
Migration linked to environmental change remains a low priority on the European Commission agenda and the brief finds little support among migration actors for applying legal humanitarian protection status to "environmental migrants," as proposed by some advocates. While there seems to be near-universal consensus that improved crisis coordination and emergency response will enhance governments’ ability to mitigate short-term environmental crises and any migration that emerges as a result, significant gaps in the framework for intervention and lack of policy coherence limit the potential impact of such efforts.
I. Introduction: Defining the Problem
II. Policy Responses to Migration Linked to Environmental Change: Summarising the Spectrum of Proposed Solutions
III. Conclusions and Recommendations