SIHMA | Scalabrini Institute For Human Mobility In Africa

Civil Society Action Committee Webinar on Climate Change and Migration

SIHMA attended the second round, second webinar on Climate Change and Migration in the People’s Migration Challenge webinar series, hosted by the Civil Society Action Committee in 2021. 

Webinar Host and Partners

The Civil Society Action Committee which is a ‘global platform for civil society engagement on migration policy and governance’ [1] held a series of about People’s Migration Challenge webinars in this round [2]. Civil Society Action Committee’s membership includes organisations working with migration and refugees. The Committees members include among others: Amnesty International, Caritas Internationalis, International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC), International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA), International Detention Coalition (IDC), NGO Committee on Migration (NGO CoM), Save the Children (StC) and the Scalabrini International Migration Network (SIMN), Terre des Hommes (TdH) and the United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth (UN-MGCY) [1]. SIHMA is one of the organisations, along with the Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town that form part of the Scalabrini International Migration Network (SIMN) which is one of the members mentioned above.

Webinar: Climate Change and Migration

The webinar was on Tuesday 29 June 2021 and entailed a follow-up discussion built on action points raised in the previous webinar on Climate Change and Migration and addressed what should be included on the agenda from the point of view of civil society, regarding the challenges migrants face due to climate change. 

People’s Migration Challenge is a series of webinars that creates a platform where civil society, migrants and other stakeholders can come together to cooperate and discuss solutions to issues related to migration. The platforms five main areas are as follows:

  1. Migration, COVID-19, and the New Social Contract
  2. Race and Ethnicity in Migration
  3. Regular Pathways and Irregular Migration
  4. Detention and Return
  5. Climate Change and Migration

While the first webinar on Climate Change and Migration had speakers scheduled in the program, the second gave the opportunity to all participants to contribute and share their insights. This led to a great discussion on many of the actions points. 

Generally the discussion looked at: How do we move towards a more progressive policy regarding climate change and migration? ; What do we, civil society, want to be on the agenda? ; and Based on the first webinar, the following action points were identified and discussed [4]:

  • Climate change intersects with other pressures and vulnerabilities:
    Climate change is only one of many challenges migrants face. It is therefore important to understand how all these challenges combined affect migrants in a context-specific way.
  • Ensuring women’s participation and agency:
    Migrant women and girls must be represented in decision-making to ensure that they are able to adapt and be safe.
  • Global and regional governance: Strengthening rights and protections:
    Migrants’ human rights should be protected and ensured in countries of origin, transit, and destination. To make this happen, governments must create regional migration policy frameworks as outlined in the Global Compact for Migration, Objective 2 and 5:  

Objective 2: “Minimize the adverse drivers and structural factors that compel people to leave their country of origin” [3].
Objective 5: “Enhance availability and flexibility of pathways for regular migration” [3]

  • National governance: Building whole-of-government and whole-of-society, human-centred responses:
    Policies that address the broader impacts of displacement and migration over the medium- and longer-term must be adapted. Short-term responses do not give much attention to recovery or sustainable futures for those who are affected. 
  • Naming and reflecting climate grief in our approaches:
    Emotional and psychological effects of climate and displacement must be accounted for in the development of policies. Spiritual needs, as well as the hardship of losing their land and connection with their cultures are important issues to address in the process of recovery. 
  • Agricultural sustainability, livelihoods, and mobility:
    We must acknowledge that there are limits to adaptation regarding climate change. Making a livelihood within agriculture and other land-based professions can turn out to be impossible. This can cause internal migration, and urban and regional planning should include options for alternative livelihoods. 
  • Increasing resources for climate impacted communities, including for migration governance:
    Financial resources are needed to manage adaptation, climate resilience, and disaster risk reduction in impacted communities, as well as to strengthen migration governance and ensure safe climate-related mobility. Unfortunately, not enough financial support is reaching those who need it. This action point was widely discussed because of the big gap in climate finance. Who should receive finances? Is it more important that resources reach a local or national level? Who can fund, and what about debt relief? Should countries responsible for climate change and carbon emissions take the bill? 
  • Improving data available to strengthen risk reduction and improve migration governance:
    It is essential to know what communications infrastructure governments and communities have available to make sure that early warning systems and other efforts to risk reduction are effective. Are there gaps that need to be filled? In addition, collection of data on slow- and sudden-onset disaster risk needs to be collected to improve migration governance. 

One topic that was heavily discussed during the webinar was lived experience data compared to classic data. We hear stories from people all over the world regarding their challenges with climate change. Is there room for lived experience data in this discourse?

  • Including the lived experience of indigenous people in the Climate Change and Migration discourse: Cultural approaches to sustainable living and mitigation in regard to climate change, used by indigenous people, should be included in adaptation strategies. 

The last round of webinars on all five areas will be held in September. You can find out more about People’s Migration Challenge and watch previous webinars on their website: 


James Chapman      and       Victoria Jensen

SIHMA                                   SIHMA
Project manager                    Communications and Research Intern 



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