73rd Session of the General Assembly on Follow-up to & implementation of the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway & the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of SIDs
STATEMENT BY THE INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR MIGRATION
AT THE 73TH SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY SECOND COMMITTEE
AGENDA ITEM 20 (b): Follow-up to and implementation of the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway and the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States
New York – 16 OCTOBER 2018
Chair, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Climate change and disasters are amongst the greatest challenges facing the international community today. Their adverse impacts affect not only our natural environment but also people’s daily lives, reshaping migration patterns in all regions of the world.
Sudden-onset disasters have grown in frequency and intensity due to the adverse effects of climate change – it is estimated that 26 million people are pushed into poverty each year by the impacts of these disasters, and in 2017, 18 million people were displaced by weather-related events within their own countries. This is more than the number of people forced to move due to conflict and war.
Slow onset environmental degradation can also lead to migration, for instance when people’s livelihoods become threatened due to the degradation of agricultural land or the depletion of fishing resources due to ocean acidification.
All regions of the world are affected by the adverse impacts of climate change, but Small Islands Developing States (SIDS), Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) bear a disproportionate burden. These countries are least able to recover from the impacts of climate stresses on their economies, significantly hampering their progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In terms of mobility, this translates into increasing levels of forced migration. For instance, it is estimated that between 2008 and 2017, some 320,000 people were displaced in the Pacific because of natural
disasters. There are also reasons to be concerned for the future, considering that more than 3 million people from SIDS countries are currently residing in low-elevation coastal zones, threatened by sea level rise and coastal erosion.
IOM strives to develop and implement solutions to support climate migrants as well as states having to respond to migration challenges in a changing climate. Developing adequate policies that integrate both climate and migration concerns is critical to addressing these issues at both national and regional levels.
We are therefore encouraged by the increased policy awareness and consensus on the need to develop concrete solutions to climate migration challenges, with vital work currently ongoing within major multilateral frameworks, such as the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.
The Global Compact for Migration (Global Compact) represents another policy milestone, as the final text outlines specific commitments to address drivers of environmental migration and respond to the challenges experienced by both migrants and states. As we begin working towards its adoption and implementation, we need to think practically about how to translate its political commitments into practice.
The SAMOA Pathway also addresses several migration issues, and calls for a number of actions to be taken on climate change and disaster-risk reduction. However, the migration and climate change nexus is not explicitly addressed in the SAMOA Pathway, and, as we work towards its mid-term review, it is critical to ensure that climate and migration matters are given greater visibility, in line with the commitments in the UNFCCC and the Global Compact.