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Climate change and migration: communicating complexity

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In a rapidly changing climate, the scale and complexity of migration will intensify.

Simplistic narratives about climate-related migration and displacement that are common in popular media (and some policy discussions) do not capture the seriousness of the challenge and the degree of policy innovation that will be necessary. Media reports far too often claim to have identified “the world’s first climate refugees”, ask experts if “this conflict was caused by climate change”, and parrot warnings that floods (or caravans or rafts) of climate migrants are making their way to wealthy nations. By contrast, researchers have been emphasising the complex mix of climatic and non-climatic factors that generate migration and the many forms it may take depending on the circumstances. This is reflected in the IPCC’s 2022 Assessment Report, which emphasises the need to recognise and address the complexity and diversity of climate-related migration outcomes, which may occur as “decreases or increases in migration flows, and lead to changes in the timing or duration of migration, and to changes in migration source locations and destinations”.

In this webinar, experienced researchers and expert commentators reflect on the following question:

  • How can we encourage greater recognition of the complexity of climate-related migration among policymakers, the media and the general public?

Presentations will be kept brief and engaging, with emphasis placed on having a lively discussion.