Which place for “Climate Refugees” in the COP 19-negotiations?

The Spokesman of the African Group, Mr. Nafo (originally from Mali) said that the need for the Parties to agree a climate deal is pressing, as well as the need for immediate action, as Climate change is literally eating away parts of Africa’s resources, decreasing rainfall, accelerating desertification and causing biodiversity loss.
When I asked him whether Climate -induced migration (between developed and developing countries) would be a negotiating point for the Africa Group at this COP 19, he answered negatively: “But prrobably under the Loss and Damage Working Programme it might come into play”, and he added that the UNHCR had a proposal on environmental migration (2-years Dialogues to enhance regional cooperation), that would be discussed within this framework.
In Doha last year (COP 18), for the first time, the need for enhanced action to address loss and damage resulting from the adverse impacts of climate change was acknowledged. This included the provision of financial support to affected developing countries by developed countries, and the establishment of relevant institutional arrangements at COP 19.
This could have very tangible implications for the efforts to address climate-induced migration, “provided that migration, and displacement in particular, is recognized fully within the loss and damage framework”, said Mrs Ionesco, the Delegate for the International Organization for Migration.
Notwithstanding the fact that many affected countries (particularly Least developed countries) and specialized organizations have stressed the importance of addressing migration and displacement within the loss and damage agenda, efforts to include the topic in the negotiations have been only partially successful and progress is slow in this area. Migration was brought down to a single paragraph in the final decision, which acknowledged the need to study the subject further (paragraph 7(a)(vi) of Draft decision CP.18). While this is certainly a positive and encouraging sign, it is also an indication that migration is still not seen as an area of priority in global efforts and action for adaptation to climate change.
There are indeed particularly difficult questions migration in the context of climate change with regard to loss and damage in particular.
Could managed international migration, if considered as a cost to the EU, be an equivalent of financial compensation (in the loss and damage framework)?
Samuel Ogallah, delegate from the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance Network (PACJAN) said that “actually, the losses in human trauma’s due to (forced) migration are too big to compensate, but we should at least have a new climate finance fund specifically addressing climate-induced migration. This is based on the Common but Diffrentiated Responsabilities and respective capabilities.” (Principle of Environmental Law, since Rio ’92 Convention), because “Climate-induced migration is not always a win-win situation for everybody”. Although it should be rememebered that many studies have shown the (economical) benefits for both receiving and sending countries. (See, for example F. Gemenne, 2013)
Would migration best be addressed through a combination of strategies, like funding for adaptation, offering migration pathways, committing humanitarian assistance if needed, and so forth? Or would it be better to have an overarching framework acknowledging the reality of climate change-related movement, that commits in principle through migration programmes and responding to spontaneous movement where inevitable?
Hopefully this will not be used as an excuse to once more postpone substantial text to the next COP, especially in terms of funding.


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