Environmental Change and Migration Between Europe and Its Neighbours

  • Mark Mulligan
  • Sophia Burke
  • Caitlin Douglas
Part of the Global Migration Issues book series (IOMS, volume 2)


We examine migration by means of literature review and extensive spatial analyses for countries throughout northern, eastern and southern Europe as well as the Mediterranean countries of north Africa. We conduct a spatial analysis of the current environmental state and likely changes as a result of climate change, sea level rise, land use change and land degradation for these areas. These projected changes are then used to better understand the likely impacts on economy, and society and thus the ‘push’ and ‘pull’ factors for environmental migration both within countries (urbanisation and land abandonment) and between countries, in particular between Northern and Southern Europe.

Results indicate a highly spatially complex environmental baseline, especially in the Mediterranean countries and a spatially complex pattern of projected environmental change and associated risk of environmental hazard. This baseline is coupled with highly clustered and urbanised populations and complex spatial patterns of economic and infrastructural sensitivity and vulnerability to change. The perhaps-surprising outcome of the European distribution of population, environment and environmental change is that those countries with the greatest potential impacts of environmental change over the next 100 years are not necessarily the poorer countries of the southern and eastern Mediterranean but rather the wealthier countries around the Alps and the low-lying Netherlands.

Migration is dominantly a social and economic process in which environmental drivers and environmental change are filtered through the economic, social, cultural and political situations in the countries of emigration and immigration. The history of European migration shows that environmental factors can have an influence on how many migrate and when but where they migrate to depends fundamentally on economics, social, political and cultural factors.


Ecosystem Service Flood Risk Land Degradation Shuttle Radar Topography Mission Nile Delta 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Some of the research for this chapter was carried out as part of the UK Government Office for Science Foresight Programme on Migration and Global Environmental Change and is described in Burke et al. (2011).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyKing’s CollegeLondonUK
  2. 2.Ambiotek Community Interest CompanyLeigh-on-SeaUK

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