Assessing the Evidence: Migration, Environment and Climate Change in Papua New Guinea
Although precise estimates are unavailable, it is commonly understood that changes in the environment will lead to more and more people migrating in coming years, in particular within and between developing countries.
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Photo credit: Muse Mohammed, IOM
However, despite a growing body of studies on the topic of migration, environment and climate change, there is still a lack of reliable data and policy oriented research which can respond to policymakers’ increasing demand and need for data in this area.

The European Union–funded Migration, Environment and Climate Change: Evidence for Policy (MECLEP ) project, aims to help address this gap and contribute to the global knowledge base on the relationship between migration and environmental change, including climate change.

The innovative research – which is being implemented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) through a consortium of research partners – will formulate policy options on how migration can benefit adaptation strategies to environmental and climate change.

The project is being conducted in six project countries including Kenya and Viet Nam, as well as in four Small Island Developing States: the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Mauritius and Papua New Guinea (PNG). Amongst the various outputs of the project are a series of national assessments that bring together existing evidence on the migration, environment and climate change nexus in each of the project countries. One of the first completed reports focuses on PNG.

The report provides a review of how environmental migration has materialized in local realities and compiles data from a wide variety of sources, including government policy documents, academic research, working papers and other publications and research carried out by national and international organizations, NGOs and research institutions.

Among the key findings about PNG, the assessment stresses that:
  • PNG is the most populated country in the Pacific under threat from the impacts of environmental and climatic changes, such as drought, frost, salinization, coastal erosion and sea-level rise.
  • PNG also experiences rapid onset events (cyclones, earthquakes, flooding, landslides, tsunamis, storm surges, volcanic eruptions), which led to the displacement of 172,240 people from 2008 to 2014. Thus, relocation as a consequence of environmental degradation is already necessary in PNG.
  • In order to better prepare for and mitigate the effects of environmental degradation and climate change on migration, disaster-induced displacement should be incorporated into policies on disaster risk management, development and climate change adaptation in a holistic way.

Assessment reports for the Dominican Republic (in Spanish) and Haiti (in French) are also available online. The National Assessments on Kenya, Mauritius and Viet Nam are forthcoming.

The PNG report can be accessed online, in English here
Copyright 2016 United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs