Climate change affects migration
Taken from a viewpoint of the founding and current member of the Asian Disaster Reduction and Response Network, Merlie “Milet” Mendoza who enunciated in details her topic during the Information Officers’ Summit on Climate Change Advocacy conducted by the Philippine Information Agency and Department of Environment and Natural Resources Caraga on Wednesday in this city, she expressed that climate change can be attributed to both natural and human interventions, therefore, the culpability should not be indicated to natural causes of climate change alone.
As defined by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) environmental migrants refer to the persons or groups of persons, for compelling reasons of sudden or progressive change in the environment that adversely affects their lives or living conditions, are obliged to leave their habitual homes.
“There are four paths by which environmental change may affect migration: intensification of natural disasters; increased warming and drought that affects agricultural production, reducing people’s livelihoods and access to clean water; rising sea levels that render coastal areas uninhabitable; and competition over natural resources that may lead to conflict, which in turn precipitates displacement,” enumerated Mendoza.
Mendoza cited that the determining factors for migration include vulnerability or resilience to these situations, that is, the capability to cope or adapt to them will determine the degree to which people are forced to migrate and the availability of alternative livelihoods or other coping capacities in the affected area generally determines the scale and form of migration that may take place.
Mendoza likewise explained that the first stage of climate change-induced migrationor the premigration is when actions to prevent, mitigate, and help individuals adapt to environmental hazards take place and “when prevention of the underlying causes of environmentally induced migration is the most critical need but it will require considerable political will, time, and resources to take the steps that are needed to protect the environment.”
Adaptation and disaster risk reduction
As clearly described by Mendoza, adaptation refers to “initiatives and measures to reduce the vulnerability of natural and human systems against actual or expected climate change effects while disaster risk reduction involves systematic efforts to analyze and manage the causal factors of disasters, including through reduced exposure to hazards, lessened vulnerability of people and property, wise management of land and the environment, and improved preparedness for adverse events.”
“Identifying vulnerabilities is essential in each case since the “characteristics and circumstances of a community, system or asset make it susceptible to the damaging effects of a hazard,” said Mendoza.
Therefore, the challenge is that “attention needs to be given to both sides of the environment and migration nexus: identifying adaptation strategies that allow people to remain where they currently live and work, and identifying resettlement strategies that protect people’s lives and livelihoods when they are unable to remain.”
Humanitarian perspective of reducing vulnerabilities
Over two decades of peacebuilding experience, humanitarian and development worker Milet Mendoza shared that while performing emergency response, “we shall take into consideration the need to reduce vulnerabilities and to strengthen the community’s disaster response capacities and capabilities.”
Mendoza stressed that to the extent possible, communities shall take active involvement and it is desired for them to get organized to draw strength within and help each other.
She told the participants of said summit about how publicity and advocacy activities should be managed. “We shall recognize disaster victims as dignified humans, not hopeless objects, whose rights must be upheld at all times. Our presence, work, and assistance shall in no way cause further harm to, or prolong suffering of the community we seek to serve,” bared Mendoza.
“When engaging in climate change advocacy, recognize the role as complement to the primary role of the government in mitigation and adaptation and disaster and emergency management. We shall coordinate efforts for the maximum benefit,” Mendoza remarked. (VLG/PIA-Caraga)