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Understanding mobility in the context of climate change

4 de Agosto de 2021

Human mobility has always been critical to maintaining livelihoods, managing risk, adapting to social and environmental change, and supporting individual dreams and aspirations. Climate change puts major pressure on this kind of migration, a pressure only exacerbated during the pandemic. 

COVID-19 has reinforced deep concerns around mobility — and societally driven immobility — among vulnerable people living in climate change hotspots across Asia and Africa. The evidence is particularly clear that migrant populations in these regions remain largely overlooked in economic development policy, adaptation to climate change efforts, and spatial planning.  

A new IDRC-led research paper in Global Environmental Change articulates the crucial need to address the complex web of social and environmental factors influencing who can move — and who cannot.  

Toward a climate mobilities research agenda: Intersectionality, immobility, and policy responses pulls together a wealth of evidence from more than five years of IDRC-funded research. The paper presents four key lessons, summarizing research findings and project outputs on climate adaptation, mobility, and human migration: 

  • Human mobility is a feature of everyday life and should be a cornerstone of development policy. 

  • Use-oriented mobilities research will support policy to recognize trans-local livelihoods. 

  • Intersecting social factors influencing mobility and immobility are a necessary research focus. 

  • Mobilities research is needed to unearth patterns of short-distance and in-country migration. 

After laying out and breaking down the evidence, this paper sets out an innovative research agenda for climate mobility during the eventual COVID-19 recovery. Ultimately, it argues, we need a more focused research agenda on climate mobility and immobility — one that includes understanding the different factors driving climate migration, the intersecting social factors that determine mobility for some and immobility for others, and the implications for future climate-driven mobility and immobility during the global COVID-19 recovery period. 

Download the full pdf report here (English only). 

Research Highlights

  • Human mobility is a feature of everyday life and should be a cornerstone of development policy. 

  • Use-oriented mobilities research will support policy to recognize trans-local livelihoods. 

  • Intersecting social factors influencing mobility and immobility are a necessary research focus. 

  • Mobilities research is needed to unearth patterns of short-distance and in-country migration.