The health impacts of climate-related migration

Author: 
Patricia Schwerdtle; Kathryn Bowen; Celia McMichael
Publisher: 
BMC Medicine
Status: 
Free
Year of Publication: 
2018

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Abstract

Background: Changes in climate, in conjunction with other drivers of mobility, shape human migration. While there is an increasing focus on the adaptive potential of migration, the health impacts of climate-related migration, including planned relocation and forced displacement, have not been thoroughly examined. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated that migration is currently, and will increasingly be, influenced by environmental degradation and climate change, and that it needs to be addressed in a focused and coordinated manner.

Discussion: This paper examines the links between climate change, migration, and health, considering diverse migration responses, including immobility, forced displacement and planned migration, as well as the associated health risks and opportunities in different contexts. Using case studies, the paper illustrates strategies to reduce the health risks associated with climate change-related migration.

Conclusion: While there is an increasing body of research examining the climate change–migration nexus, a dual approach is now required. This approach must include debate and further research regarding the health consequences and responses associated with climate migration as well as immediate strengthening of health systems to make them both climate resilient and migrant inclusive.

Keywords: Climate change, Migration, Displacement, Relocation, Public health, Governance, Adaptation, Human mobility, Environmental change