Integrating migration from a rural livelihoods perspective in NAP and NDC processes

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    Expected end date:
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    Project Type:
    Capacity Development
    Project Manager :
    Kees van der Geest

    Agriculture constitutes a source of subsistence and livelihood for some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable rural people who heavily rely on natural resources. Climate change impacts on rural livelihoods – such as the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme events, as well as the occurrence of gradual environmental change processes that are partly driven by climate change – are putting the viability of agricultural livelihoods at risk. In the face of changing climate and environmental conditions, migration can be an important livelihood diversification and risk management strategy. Migration has always been part of rural livelihoods in most parts of the world – a traditional way for people to deal with risks, cope with harsh climatic conditions, maintain their livelihoods and use resources in more strategic ways. However, climate change impacts are posing unprecedented challenges, exacerbate existing vulnerabilities, and can lead to changes in patterns of human mobility when traditional migration patterns are compromised. Extreme weather events can cause immediate displacement of people out of affected areas, whereas gradual environmental changes, such as sea level rise or land degradation, and repeated exposure to climate hazards, such as temperature extremes or erratic rainfalls, can progressively affect rural livelihoods and traditional patterns of population movement by shaping the duration, conditions and outcomes of migration, or even by constraining mobility.

    The potential of migration for transforming the lives and livelihoods of rural households and families is highlighted by research. Additionally, the role of migration as adaptation to climate change is also increasingly acknowledged, and a growing evidence base indicates that migration can help build adaptive capacity and long-term resilience in the context of rural agricultural livelihoods. Yet, migration is often not given adequate consideration in climate policies, including in countries that are already experiencing severe impacts of climate change. Where efforts to integrate migration into sectoral policies do exist, they often happen in silos or the focus is one-sidedly on migration as a negative conseuquence of climate change. Therefore, the potential of migration as climate change adaptation may not be fully realised.

    The process of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the 2015 Paris Agreement has been highlighted as an opportunity for implementing a nexus approach that recognises the intersection and interaction between traditionally separate sectors (such as migration, agriculture and climate change). As the development of NDCs requires communication between and inputs from policy stakeholders from different sectors and different levels of policy making, the process can lend itself well to improve policy coherence that can support the mainstreaming of migration from a rural livelihood perspective into climate change and adaptation policies and processes.

    Similarly, National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) processes provide a platform for linking national and sub-national adaptation planning and implementation. Thus, they can also provide an opportunity for mainstreaming migration into adaptation planning, specifically from the perspective of rural agricultural livelihoods. Integrating or mainstreaming migration from a rural/agricultural perspective into national climate adaptation policies and programmes is needed, on the one hand, to ensure that the benefits of migration are translated into improved adaptive capacity and resilience for rural agricultural stakeholders, and, on the other hand, to bridge the existing gap between national and sub-national climate change adaptation, migration and agricultural policies.

    Mainstreaming migration into climate and adaptation policies and processes, specifically NAPs and NDCs, constitutes an important opportunity for policy makers to address the root causes of climate-induced migration from a livelihood and wellbeing perspective and to diffuse the benefits of migration to build adaptive capacity for those groups for whom migration is not an option. From a process point of view, mainstreaming migration from a rural livelihood perspective into NAPs and NDCs can also be an opportunity for facilitating improved coherence between relevant sectoral policies through improving coordination and communication between stakeholders at different levels of policy and governance. Identifying the conditions, mechanisms and processes that foster the role of migration in building climate-resilient rural livelihoods is a crucial step towards mainstreaming migration from the rural livelihoods perspective into climate policies and processes. These, together with lessons from existing good practices, can form the basis for guidance and a corresponding toolkit that support diverse policy stakeholders involved in NAP and NDC processes.