UN International Migration Review Forum 2022 Remarks

May 23, 2022

Watch the UN International Migration Review Forum side event, “Facilitating Safe and Regular Migration Pathways in a Changing Climate: Lessons from GCM Implementation,” here.

The Climate, Migration, and Displacement Platform (CMDP) was invited to be a stakeholder speaker at the policy debate at the International Migration Review Forum 2022. Kayly Ober, senior advocate and program manager of Refugees International’s Climate Displacement Program and steering group member of the CMDP, wrote remarks for the occasion. Due to time constraints, she was not able to deliver them.

Below is a transcript of those remarks:

As a platform that has been advocating for climate and migrant justice for many years, we know that climate change is not a future challenge – it’s an intensifying crisis.

Indeed, we are in the midst of a climate crisis.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Working Group II report makes clear: the magnitude of existing and coming climate change impacts is much larger than previously acknowledged and is already contributing to displacement and humanitarian crises around the world.

It’s a matter of utmost urgency that we act.

To address adverse drivers. 

To ensure that rights-respecting regular pathways in the context of climate change and disasters exist. 

We’re making progress on the former, less so on the latter.

But we know it’s possible. 

Just this morning I moderated an event with a number of States that have demonstrated this. Argentina, for example, just days ago, passed a law for special humanitarian visas for Mexican and Central American nationals displaced due to “socio-natural disasters.”

We applaud this. 

And we look forward to keeping track of how this policy gets implemented and actually reaches those who need it most. 

At the same time, we also note that no progress has been made on rights-respecting regular pathways in the context of slow-onset events. 

It’s urgent that States act on this challenge with equal vigor.

We must move past “analyzing,” “assessing,” “exploring” options – options are needed now.

As the Mayor of Dhaka North made clear this morning and the Mayor of Freetown reiterated at this very debate: climate change is not an abstract issue. It’s already influencing migration decisions. Local organizations, local governments are on the frontlines.

Given this, we would like to make a plea for States to consult with migrants and people at displacement risk today. To ask them how you can support the ways in which they envision migrating as an adaptation response. To ask them what migration pathways they need. 

We are in the midst of a climate crisis. Let’s act like it.

Photo courtesy of Helena Olea, Alianza Americas