Climate-induced Migration – is it taboo?

Climate-induced migration – is it taboo? and how can virtual dialogue sessions help get it onto the agenda of key decision-makers in the right way? TT adapted and facilitated this 4-day virtual workshop on climate and environmental migration.

Over 50 participants from Ecuador attended this four-day series of interactive workshop sessions focussing on a subject that is almost taboo and is definitely complex to address: the predicted increases in the displacement of people exacerbated by climate and environment-induced migration.

Talking Transformation was invited by UNDP in Ecuador to design and facilitate the interactive online platform and virtual tools to provide a more engaging and interactive dialogue around this critically important issue. Talking Transformation worked closely with Ecuador’s Ministry of Environment and Water, the National Plan for Adaptation to Climate Change and three UN organisations: UNDP, the IOM (International Organisation for Migration) in Ecuador and UNICEF.

The most recent data shows that there is evidence of an increase in the numbers of people who are being exposed to both internal displacement within the country and displacement between countries. In the past this has been attributed to conflict and violence, or to extreme events such as volcanic eruptions. However, the focus is now on the predictions of increased mass migration exacerbated either by i) the increase in intensity and frequency of extreme weather events such as storms, hurricanes, tsunamis and flooding or ii) the slow onset of climate impacts such as sea-level rise and drought. Some of this migration is a positive adaptation strategy where people move between areas temporarily or on a seasonal basis and through which they can provide income and security for the rest of their family. However, there is a huge elephant in the room for many of the decision-makers in Ecuador and around the world when they are planning for climate change and when they are considering closing borders to immigrants in current times: by 2050 there could be more than 143 million internal climate migrants if no action is taken.

Recent research shows that resettlement outcomes, although they manage to reduce immediate physical risk, are usually negative in terms of their impact on the assets that are key elements of individual and community resilience (such as social, cultural and natural resource assets). Resettlement and refugee camps can also expose children and women to greater risk of violence and sexual abuse. Yet, the workshop session concluded that there is little data yet available in Ecuador on gender and climate migration.

Through the use of Mentimeter, we were able to discuss differing opinions on priorities for the services that should be available to them. Coming out top is support to victims of violence and access to sexual and reproductive health services.

Many government institutions, international agencies, research centres and civil society organisations are working on issues of nature-based responses for climate adaptation, on water management, on climate change, on humanitarian support for displaced people and immigrants. However, as yet there has been no inter-institutional collaboration around how all of this is inter-related and how climate change will exacerbate the levels of migration and human displacement. So, we looked at who shuld be talking to each other.

As facilitation tools, we used both Mentimeter and Miro through the Zoom platform to encourage a virtual stakeholder mapping session (that would normally happen in a face-to-face meeting with a visualisation exercise with cards and post-its).


Our multi-cultural team is made up of associate facilitators, policy advisors and environmental governance experts based in South America, Africa and the UK.

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