Water and Migration: A Global Overview

Authored by: Nidhi Nagabhatla, Panthea Pouramin, Rupal Brahmbhatt, et al.

Categories: Humanitarian Emergencies
Sub-Categories: Climate and Environment, Migration
Year: 2020
Citation: Nagabhatla, Nidhi, et al. “Water and Migration: A Global Overview.” United Nations University, May 2020.

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Executive Summary

The report aims to start unpacking relationships between water and migration. The data used in this Report are collected from available public sources and reviewed in the context of water and climate. A three-dimensional (3D) framework is outlined for water-related migration assessment. The framework may be useful to aggerate water-related causes and consequences of migration and interpret them in various socioecological, socioeconomic, and sociopolitical settings. A case study approach is adopted to illustrate the various applications of the framework to dynamics of migration in various geographic and hydrological scenarios. The case studies reflect on well-known examples of environmental and water degradation, but with a focus on displacement /migration and socioeconomic challenges that apply. The relevance of proxy measures such as the Global Conflict Risk Index, which helps quantify water and migration interconnections, is discussed in relation to geographic, political, environmental, and economic parameters.

The narratives presented in the Report also point to the existing governance mechanisms on migration, stating that they are fragmented. The report examines global agreements, institutions, and policies on migration to provide an aggerated outlook as to how international and inter-agency cooperation agreements and policies either reflected or are missing on water and climate crises as direct or indirect triggers to migration. Concerning this, the new directives related to migration governance. The Report recommends an enhanced focus on migration as an adaptation strategy to maximize the interconnectedness with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It calls for the migration discourse to look beyond from a preventative and problematic approach to a perspective emphasizing migration as a contributor towards achieving sustainable development, particularly SDGs 5, 6, 13, and 16 that aim strengthening capacities related to water, gender, climate, and institutions. Overall, the synthesis offers a global overview of water and migration for researchers and professionals engaged in migration-related work. For international agencies and government organizations and policymakers dealing with the assessment of and response to migration, the report aims to support the work on migration assessment and the implementation of the SDGs.