Why is COP25 on climate change also a summit on human mobility?

Why is COP25 on climate change also a summit on human mobility?

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP25) is the most important annual event on this issue, as it allows its parties to advance in the design and implementation of measures to mitigate and adapt to climate change. This will be the last Convention before the Paris Agreement in 2020 enters into force and should allow for the completion of its regulation and to review the progress of the parties' commitments. After the change of venue announced at the beginning of November, COP25 will take place in Madrid from December 2 to 13, 2019, under the presidency of the Chilean government.

However, the Convention is also a summit on human mobility for several reasons. First of all, it is important to remember that human mobility has progressively entered the scope of COP discussions, in particular from the 2010 Cancun Adaptation Framework, which calls for measures to address three forms of climate mobility: displacement induced by climate change, migration, and planned relocations. And secondly, because the approval of the Paris Agreement also represents a before and after in this process, as it recognizes the situation of climate migrants and establishes a Task Force to specifically address the issue of human mobility related to climate change.

The Task Force has contributed to integrating migration into climate change discussions, pointing out the importance of addressing the impact of environmental and climate degradation on population movements. Scientific evidence has accompanied this process: the reports of the intergovernmental panel of experts on climate change have progressively incorporated migration into their analyzes. A recent study published in Nature Communications triples the estimation of vulnerabilities against sea level rise. According to this report, a conservative estimate of 190 million people will live in areas submerged by high tides by 2100. This situation makes the planning of human mobility necessary from areas that are not going to be habitable in the future.

Each COP in recent years has integrated a greater number of events and discussions related to human mobility in its different components. The Task Force presented its recommendations during Katowice COP24 in 2018. These recommendations were officially approved and identify a set of opportunities to reduce, minimize and address displacement related to the adverse impacts of climate change. The Task Force will present its activities during COP25, as well as a work plan for the coming years.

Integrating human mobility in the COP and more generally in discussions on climate change is essential to prevent forced migration and support people who will be forced to leave their communities due to phenomena such as sea level rise, desertification , the melting of glaciers, the acidification of the ocean, droughts and hydrometeorological threats. By bringing together all parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the COPs represent the ideal platform to advance these discussions and achieve international consensus to address climate migration.

How do Venezuelans live in Costa Rica during the pandemic?

How do Venezuelans live in Costa Rica during the pandemic?
Categoria: Emergencies & Humanitarian Action
Autor: Guest Contributor

Currently, more than 5 million Venezuelans have left their country due to the complex socio-political context. Of those, at least 4 million are in Latin American and Caribbean countries, according to data collected from governments by the Regional Interagency Coordination Platform for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela (R4V).

According to estimates made by IOM Costa Rica, by the end of June,  29,850 Venezuelans approximately were in that Central American country. The socioeconomic situation, health, regularization mechanisms and other characteristics that affect integration in a host country were impacted by the pandemic.

To better understand this population, IOM Costa Rica implemented the Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) to profile the Venezuelan population. This shows that the majority of the Venezuelans who took part in the survey were in the age range between 35 and 44 years; they were women (63%); they had university studies; and they were asylum seekers. In addition, most of them had been in the country between 3 months and a year and planned to stay permanently.

The DTM is a tool that can help policymakers to unravel mobility trends and outline current and future evidence-based scenarios so that the initiatives and strategy to assist both refugees and migrants, as well as host communities, can be planned with more information. These are some of the main findings of the study to understand the characteristics and needs of Venezuelans in the country:

  • Residence: 87% of those survey respondents indicated that they reside with another Venezuelan. Of these, 26% reside with a minor and 19% with an older adult. Most of them live in apartments.
  • Employment situation: At the time of the survey, most of the participating Venezuelans were unemployed (59%), and those who were working did so mainly in the informal sector. This is not a minor fact if we recall how it was said before that in general they have university studies.
  • Difficulties: Given the high unemployment rate, it is not surprising that one of the main difficulties indicated by the survey respondents was the lack of economic resources (78%), compared to other problems such as lack of documentation, lack of access to health, lack of food or water, among others.
  • Assistance: The surveyed population indicates that the main organizations that have assisted them are IOM (51%), UNHCR (44%), Alianza VenCR (31%), HIAS (23%), RET International (20%), the Jesuit Service (5%), among others.


The future of the mobility patterns of the Venezuelan population amid the pandemic

The regional profile of Venezuelan refugees and migrants in Latin America and the Caribbean, recently published by IOM together with the Migration Policy Institute, indicates that, as a result of the new conditions brought about by the pandemic, Venezuelan refugees and migrants will be affected by food insecurity, limited access to health services and difficulty in finding work. On the other hand, there are different estimates of the number of Venezuelan returnees and there is no confirmed count of how many are moving through the region with the intention of returning to their country.

Although assistance to human mobility has many aspects, in the context of a pandemic, health care becomes a particularly important aspect both for the refugee and migrant population, as well as for their host communities, since ensuring all members of a society the necessary medical access has an impact that goes beyond the person being cared for. In some countries, working formally facilitates access to this type of services; but in the case of Venezuelans, as they are mostly in the informal sector (due in many cases to the lack of documentation or regular status), access to health is complicated despite it being a human right.

This publication also suggests that in parallel to the organization and efforts made by governments and civil society to address the problems that afflict refugees and migrants in the region in general, and the Venezuelan population in particular, it is necessary to have international support. This is important, among other aspects, to collect solid data to help formulate public policies, as well as to strengthen the positive aspects that migration can bring, for example, in its economic dimension.