Population and Environment

, Volume 32, Issue 2–3, pp 238–262

Migration and climate change: examining thresholds of change to guide effective adaptation decision-making

Original Paper

Abstract

The implications of environmental change for migration are little understood. Migration as a response to climate change could be seen as a failure of in situ adaptation methods, or migration could be alternatively perceived as a rational component of creative adaptation to environmental risk. This paper frames migration as part of an adaptation response to climate change impacts to natural resource condition and environmental hazards. Thresholds will be reached by communities after which migration will become a vital component of an effective adaptation response. Such changes to migration patterns have the potential to undermine migration policy unless appropriate preparations are undertaken. This paper describes an approach to assist researchers to frame how climate change will influence migration by critically analysing how thresholds of fundamental change to migration patterns could be identified, primarily in relation to two case studies in Nepal and Thailand. Future policy for internal and international migration could be guided by the analysis of such thresholds of non-linear migration and resourced effectively to ensure that socio-economic and humanitarian outcomes are maximised.

Keywords

Migration Climate change Adaptation Thresholds Environmental risk Nepal Thailand 

References

  1. Adamo, S. (2008). Addressing environmentally induced population displacements: A delicate task. Background Paper for the Environment Research Network Cyberseminar on Environmentally Induced Population Displacements. Available at http://www.populationenvironmentresearch.org. Cited December 21, 2009.
  2. Adger, W. N., Arnell, N. W., & Tompkins, E. (2005). Successful adaptation to climate change across scales. Global Environmental Change, 15, 77–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Adger, W. N., Dessai, S., Goulden, M., Hulme, M., Lorenzoni, I., Nelson, D., et al. (2009). Are there limits to social adaptation to climate change? Climate Change, 93, 335–354.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Adger, W. N., Kelly, P. M., Winkels, A., Huy, L. Q., & Locke, C. (2002). Migration, remittances, livelihood trajectories and social resilience. Ambio, 31, 358–366.Google Scholar
  5. Adhikari, J. (2000). Decisions for survival: Farm management strategies in the middle hills of Nepal. Delhi: Adroit Publishers.Google Scholar
  6. Agrawala, S., Raksakulthai, V., van Aalst, M., Larsen, P., Smith, J., & Reynolds, J. (2003). Development and climate change in Nepal: Focus on water resources and hydropower. Paris: OECD.Google Scholar
  7. Arnell, N. W. (2000). Thresholds and response to climate change forcing: The water sector. Climatic Change, 46, 305–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Balbo, M., & Marconi, G. (2006). International migration, diversity and urban governance in cities of the South. Habitat International, 30, 706–715.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bardsley, D. (1996). A philosophy of diversity as a basis for sustainable development: Learning from examples of agricultural development in Northeast Thailand. Unpublished Masters Thesis, The Flinders University of South Australia, Adelaide.Google Scholar
  10. Bardsley, D. K. (2001). A comparative study of in situ agrobiodiversity conservation in Switzerland, Turkey and Nepal. Unpublished Doctoral thesis, University of Melbourne, Melbourne.Google Scholar
  11. Bardsley, D. (2003). Risk alleviation via in situ agrobiodiversity conservation: drawing from experiences in Switzerland, Turkey and Nepal. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 99, 149–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bardsley, D. K., & Rogers, G. (2011). Prioritising engagement for sustainable adaptation to climate change: An example from natural resource management in South Australia. Society and Natural Resources, 24(1). doi: 10.1080/08941920802287163.
  13. Bardsley, D. K., & Sweeney, S. M. (2010). Guiding climate change adaptation within vulnerable natural resource management systems. Environmental Management, 45, 1127–1141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Bardsley, D., & Thomas, I. (2005). In situ agrobiodiversity conservation for regional development in Nepal. GeoJournal, 62, 27–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Barnett, J. (2003). Security and climate change. Global Environmental Change, 13, 7–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Barnett, J., & Webber, M. (2009). Accommodating migration to promote adaptation to climate change. A Policy Brief prepared for the Secretariat of the Swedish Commission on Climate Change and Development and the World Bank Report 2010 Team. Available at http://www.ccdcommission.org/Filer/documents/Accommodating%20Migration.pdf. Cited November 17, 2009.
  17. Bhandari, P. (2004). Relative deprivation and migration in an agricultural setting of Nepal. Population and Environment, 25, 475–499.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Black, R., Kniveton, D., Skeldon, R., Coppard, D., Murata, A., & Schmidt-Verkerk, K. (2008). Demographics and climate change: Future trends and their policy implications for migration. Working Paper, Development Research Centre on Migration, Globalisation and Poverty, University of Sussex, Brighton.Google Scholar
  19. Boano, C., Zetter, R., & Morris, T. (2007). Environmentally displaced people: Understanding the linkages between environmental change, livelihood and forced migration. Oxford: Refugee Studies Centre.Google Scholar
  20. Brooks, N., Adger, W. N., & Kelly, P. M. (2005). The determinants of vulnerability and adaptive capacity at the national level and the implications for adaptation. Global Environmental Change, 15, 151–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Brown, J. H. (1995). Macroecology. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  22. Brown, O. (2008). Migration and climate change. Geneva: International Organization for Migration.Google Scholar
  23. Castles, S. (2002). Environmental change and forced migration: Making sense of the debate. Geneva: New Issues in Refugee Research. Working Paper No. 70, United Nations High Commission for Refugees.Google Scholar
  24. Castles, S. (2006). Global perspectives on forced migration. Asian and Pacific Migration Journal, 15, 7–28.Google Scholar
  25. Cernea, M. M. (1990). Internal refugee flows and development-induced population displacement. Journal of Refugee Studies, 3, 4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Cruz, R. V., Harasawa, H., Lal, M., Wu, S., Anokhin, Y., Punsalmaa, B., et al. (2007). Asia. In M. L. Parry, O. F. Canziani, J. P. Palutikof, P. J. van der Linden, & C. E. Hanson (Eds.), Climate change 2007: Impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. Contribution of working group II to the fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change (pp. 469–506). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  27. de Sherbinin, A., VanWey, L. K., McSweeney, K., Aggarwal, R., Barbieri, A., Henry, S., et al. (2008). Rural household demographics, livelihoods and the environment. Global Environmental Change, 18, 38–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Dessai, S., Adger, W. N., Hulme, M., Turnpenny, J., Köhler, J., & Warren, R. (2004). Defining and experiencing dangerous climate change: an editorial essay. Climatic Change, 64, 11–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Dilley, M., Chen, R. S., Deichmann, U., Lerner-Lam, A. L., & Arnold, M. (2005). Natural disaster hotspots: A global risk analysis. Washington, DC: The World Bank.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Dixit, A. (2003). Floods and vulnerability: Need to rethink flood management. Natural Hazards, 28, 155–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Elliott, J. R., & Pais, J. (2006). Race, class, and Hurricane Katrina: Social differences in human responses to disaster. Social Science Research, 35, 295–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Ericson, J. P., Vörösmarty, C. J., Dingman, S. L., Ward, L. G., & Meybeck, M. (2006). Effective sea-level rise and deltas: Causes of change and human dimension implications. Global and Planetary Change, 50, 63–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Fafchamps, M., & Shilpi, F. (2003). The spatial division of labour in Nepal. Journal of Development Studies, 39, 23–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Fankhauser, S., Smith, J. B., & Tol, R. S. J. (1999). Weathering climate change: Some simple rules to guide adaptation decisions. Ecological Economics, 30, 67–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Fritze, J. G., Blashki, G. A., Burke, S., & Wiseman, J. (2008). Hope, despair and transformation: Climate change and the promotion of mental health and wellbeing. International Journal of Mental Health Systems, 2, 13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Garip, F. (2008). Social capital and migration: How do similar resources lead to divergent outcomes? Demography, 45, 591–617.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Government of Nepal. (2009). Ministry of Health and Population: Fact sheets. Available at http://www.moh.gov.np/Home/FACT.ASP. Cited June 9, 2009.
  38. Granovetter, M. (1978). Threshold models of collective behaviour. American Journal of Sociology, 83, 1420–1443.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Haack, B. N., & Rafter, A. (2006). Urban growth analysis and modeling in the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal. Habitat International, 30, 1056–1065.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Harvey, N. (2006). Global change and integrated coastal management: The Asia-Pacific region. Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Heine, B., & Petersen, L. (2008). Adaptation and cooperation. Forced Migration Review: Climate Change and Displacement, 31, 48–50.Google Scholar
  42. Hirsch, P. (2009). Revisiting frontiers as transitional spaces in Thailand. The Geographical Journal, 175, 124–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Hugo, G. J. (1996). Environmental concerns and international migration. International Migration Review, 30, 105–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Hugo, G. (2006). Immigration responses to global change in Asia: A review. Geographical Research, 44, 155–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Hugo, G. J. (2008a). Migration, development and environment. Geneva: International Organization for Migration.Google Scholar
  46. Hugo, G. J. (2008b). International migration in Indonesia and its impacts on regional development. In T. van Naerssen, E. Spaan, & A. Zoomers (Eds.), Global migration and development (pp. 43–65). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  47. Hugo, G. J. (2009). Emerging demographic trends in Asia and the Pacific: The implications for international migration. In Bertelsmann. Stiftung and Migration Policy Institute (Eds.), Talent, competitiveness and migration: The transatlantic council on migration (pp. 33–99). Gütersloh: Verlag Bertelsmann Stiftung.Google Scholar
  48. Hugo, G. J. (2010). Climate change induced mobility and the existing migration regime in Asia and the Pacific. In J. McAdam (Ed.), Climate change and displacement: multidisciplinary perspectives (Chapter 2). Oxford: Hart Publishing.Google Scholar
  49. Hugo, G., Bardsley, D. K., Tan, Y., Sharma, V., Williams, M., & Bedford, R. (2009). Climate change and migration in the Asia-Pacific region. Unpublished Report to the Asian Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, Manila.Google Scholar
  50. Huguet, J. W. (2008). Towards a migration information system in Asia. Asian and Pacific Migration Journal, 17, 231–255.Google Scholar
  51. Huguet, J. W., & Punpuing, S. (2005). International migration in Thailand. Bangkok: International Organization for Migration, Regional Office.Google Scholar
  52. International Organization for Migration (IOM). (2007). Discussion note: Migration and the environment. MC/INF/288. Available at http://www.iom.int/jahia/webdav/shared/shared/mainsite/about_iom/en/council/94/MC_INF_288.pdf. Cited November 17, 2009.
  53. Jones, R. N. (2001). An environmental risk assessment/management framework for climate change impacts assessments. Natural Hazards, 23, 197–230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Jones, G. W. (2004). Urbanization trends in Asia: The conceptual and definitional challenges. In T. Champion & G. Hugo (Eds.), New forms of urbanization: Beyond the urban–rural dichotomy (pp. 113–131). Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  55. Jones, G. W., & Douglass, M. (2008). Mega-urban regions in Pacific Asia: Urban dynamics in a global era. Singapore: National University of Singapore Press.Google Scholar
  56. Kniveton, D., Schmidt-Verkerk, K., Smith, C., & Black, R. (2008). Climate change and migration: Improving methodologies to estimate flows. Geneva: International Organization for Migration–Migration Research Series 33.Google Scholar
  57. Kundzewicz, Z. W., Nohara, D., Tong, J., Oki, T., Buda, S., & Takeuchi, K. (2009). Discharge of large Asian rivers—observations and projections. Quaternary International, 208, 4–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Laczko, F., & Collett, E. (2005). Assessing the tsunami’s effects on migration. Migration Information Source, International Organization for Migration. Available at http://www.migrationinformation.org/Feature/display.cfm?id=299. Cited November 17, 2009.
  59. Levy, M. A., Anderson, B., Brickman, M., Cromer, C., Falk, B., Fekete, B., Green, P., Jaiteh, M., Lammers, R., Mara, V., MacManus, K., Metzle, S., Muñiz, M., Parris, T., Pullen, R., Thorkelson, C., Vörösmarty, C., Wollheim, W., Xing, X., & Yetman, G. (2008). Assessment of select climate change impacts on US national security. New York: CIESIN, Columbia University Working Paper, July 1, 2008.Google Scholar
  60. Lonergan, S., & Swain, A. (1999). Environmental degradation and population displacement. Victoria BC, Canada: Global Environmental Change and Human Security Project, Research Report 2, May 1999.Google Scholar
  61. Massey, D. S., Arango, J., Hugo, G., Kouaouci, A., Pellegrino, A., & Taylor, J. E. (1993). Theories of international migration: a review and appraisal. Population and Development Review, 19, 431–466.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Massey, D., Axinn, W., & Ghimire, D. (2007). Environmental change and out-migration: Evidence from Nepal. Ann Arbor, MI: Population Studies Center, University of Michigan Research Report 07-615, January 2007.Google Scholar
  63. McGee, T. G. (2008). Managing the rural–urban transformation in east Asia in the 21st century. Sustainability Science, 3, 155–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. McGranahan, G., Balk, D., & Anderson, B. (2007). The rising tide: Assessing the risks of climate change and human settlements in low elevation coastal zones. Environment and Urbanization, 19, 17–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. McLeman, R., & Smit, B. (2006). Migration as an adaptation to climate change. Climatic Change, 76, 31–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Menon, N. (2009). Rainfall uncertainty and occupational choice in agricultural households of rural Nepal. Journal of Development Studies, 45, 864–888.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Meze-Hausken, E. (2008). On the (im-)possibilities of defining human climate thresholds. Climatic Change, 89, 299–324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Mimura, N. (2008). Asia-Pacific coasts and their management: States of environment. Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Myers, N. (2002). Environmental refugees: A growing phenomenon of the 21st century. Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society London: Biological sciences: Series B, 357, 609–613.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Nasreen, M., Hossain, K. M., & Kundu, D. K. (2006). The interrelationship between poverty, environment and sustainable development. Bangladesh e-Journal of Sociology, 3, 59–79.Google Scholar
  71. Numnak, G. (2005). Wanted: Skilled foreign workers in Thailand. Review of Indonesian and Malaysian Affairs, 39, 151–174.Google Scholar
  72. O’Hear, A. (1997). Beyond evolution: Human nature and the limits of evolutionary explanation. Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  73. Panday, D. R. (1999). Nepal’s failed development: Reflections on the mission and the maladies. Kathmandu: Nepal South Asia Centre.Google Scholar
  74. Parks, B. C., & Roberts, J. T. (2006). Globalization, vulnerability to climate change, and perceived injustice. Society and Natural Resources, 19, 337–355.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Parnwell, M. J. G. (1988). Rural poverty, development and the environment: The case of North-East Thailand. Journal of Biogeography, 15, 199–208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Parry, M. L., Canziani, O. F., Palutikof, J. P., van der Linden, P. J., & Hanson, C. E. (2007). Climate change 2007: Impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. Contribution of working group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  77. Perch-Nielsen, S. L., Bättig, M. B., & Imboden, D. (2008). Exploring the link between climate change and migration. Climatic Change, 91, 375–393.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Piguet, E. (2008). Climate change and forced migration. New Issues in refugee Research, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Research Paper.Google Scholar
  79. Pradhan, P. K. (2004). Population growth, migration and urbanisation. Environmental consequences in Kathmandu Valley. Nepal. In J. D. Unruh, M. S. Krol, & N. Kliot (Eds.), Environmental change and its implications for population migration (pp. 177–199). Dordrecht: Kluwer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Preston, B. L., Suppiah, R., Macadam, I., & Bathols, J. (2006). Climate change in the Asia/Pacific region: A consultancy report prepared for the climate change and development roundtable. Aspendale, Victoria: CSIRO.Google Scholar
  81. Renaud, F., Bogardi, J. J., Dun, O., & Warner, K. (2007). Control, adapt or flee: How to face environmental migration?. Bonn: United Nations University, Institute for Environment and Human Security.Google Scholar
  82. Reuveny, R. (2007). Climate change-induced migration and violent conflict. Political Geography, 26, 656–673.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Sciortino, R., & Punpuing, S. (2009). International migration in Thailand. Bangkok: International Organization for Migration.Google Scholar
  84. Seddon, D., Adhikari, J., & Guring, G. (2002). Foreign labor migration and the remittance economy of Nepal. Critical Asian Studies, 34, 19–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Semenov, M. A., & Porter, J. R. (1995). Non-linearity in climate change impact assessment. Journal of Biogeography, 22, 597–600.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Shrestha, N. R. (1990). Landlessness and migration in Nepal. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  87. Shrestha, S. S., & Bhandari, P. (2007). Environmental security and labour migration in Nepal. Population and Environment, 29, 25–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Shrestha, N. R., Velu, R. P., & Conway, D. (1993). Frontier migration and upward mobility: The case of Nepal. Economic Development and Cultural Change, 41, 787–816.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. Siddiqui, T. (2005). Migration and development: Pro-poor policy choices. Dhaka: The University Press.Google Scholar
  90. Skeldon, R. (2006). Interlinkages between internal and international migration and development in the Asian region. Population, Space and Place, 12, 15–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. Solomon, S., Qin, D., Manning, M., Chen, Z., Marquis, M., Averyt, K. B., Tignor, M., & Miller H. L. (2007). Climate change 2007: The physical science basis. Contribution of working group I to the fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  92. Syvitski, J. (2008). Deltas at risk. Sustainability Science, 3, 23–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  93. Tacoli, C. (2009). Crisis or adaptation? Migration and climate change in a context of high mobility. Environment and Urbanization, 21, 513–525.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  94. Thaitakoo, D., & McGrath, B. (2008). Changing landscape, changing climate: Bangkok and the Chao Phraya River Delta. Places, 20, 30–35.Google Scholar
  95. Thieme, S., & Müller-Böker, U. (2004). Financial self-help associations among far west Nepalese labor migrants in Delhi, India. Asian and Pacific Migration Journal, 13, 339–361.Google Scholar
  96. Thieme, S., & Wyss, S. (2005). Migration patterns and remittance transfer in Nepal: A case study of Sainik Basti in Western Nepal. International Migration, 43, 59–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  97. United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP). (2008). 2008 ESCAP population data sheet. Bangkok: UNESCAP.Google Scholar
  98. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). (2007). Climate change: Impacts, vulnerabilities and adaptation in developing countries. Bonn: UNFCCC Secretariat.Google Scholar
  99. United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). (2008). Climate change, natural disasters and human displacement: A UNHCR perspective. Geneva: UNHCR.Google Scholar
  100. Vanwey, L. K. (2003). Land ownership as a determinant of temporary migration in Nang Rong, Thailand. European Journal of Population, 19, 121–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  101. Vecchi, G. A., & Soden, B. J. (2007). Effect of remote sea surface temperature change on tropical cyclone potential intensity. Nature, 450, 1066–1070.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  102. Vitoolpanyakij, C. (2009). Coastal cities and adaptation to climate change: Bangkok study. In Presentation to cities at risk: Building adaptive capacity for managing climate change in Asia’s Coastal Megacities, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand, February 26–28.Google Scholar
  103. von Storch, H., & Woth, K. (2008). Storm surges: Perspectives and options. Sustainability Science, 3, 33–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  104. Vörösmarty, C. J., Green, P., Salisbury, J., & Lammers, R. B. (2000). Global water resources: Vulnerability from climate change and population growth. Science, 289, 284–288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  105. Wahid, S. M. (2009). Adaptation in action: Options and strategies in Bangkok. In Presentation to cities at risk: Building adaptive capacity for managing climate change in Asia’s coastal megacities, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand, February, 26–28.Google Scholar
  106. Warner, K., Afifi, T., Dun, O., & Stal, M. (2009). Climate change and migration: Reflections on policy needs. MEA Bulletin, Guest Article No. 64, February 27, 2009. Available at http://www.iisd.ca/mea-l/guestarticle64.html. Cited November 17, 2009.
  107. Warner, K., Afifi, T., Dun, O., Stal, M., Schmidl, S., & Bogardi, J. (2008). Human security, climate change and environmentally induced migration. In T. Dokos (Ed.), Climate change: Addressing the impact on human security (pp. 62–84), Athens: Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy and Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2007–2008.Google Scholar
  108. Webster, P. J., Holland, G. J., Curry, J. A., & Chang, H.-R. (2005). Changes in tropical cyclone number, duration, and intensity in a warming environment. Science, 309, 1844–1846.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  109. World Commission on Dams. (2000). Puk Mun dam, Mekong river basin, Thailand. In Paper prepared for the World Commission on Dams Secretariat of the World Commission on Dams, Cape Town.Google Scholar
  110. Yamanaka, K. (2000). Nepalese labour migration to Japan: From global warriors to global workers. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 23, 62–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  111. Yusuf, A. A., & Francisco, H. A. (2009). Climate change vulnerability mapping for Southeast Asia. Singapore: Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia.Google Scholar
  112. Zahran, S., Brody, S. D., Grover, H., & Vedlitz, A. (2006). Climate change vulnerability and policy support. Society and Natural Resources, 19, 771–789.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social SciencesThe University of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia

Personalised recommendations