The United Nations University (UNU) is the academic arm of the United Nations (UN). It
bridges the academic world and the UN system. Its goal is to develop
sustainable solutions for current and future problems of humankind in all
aspects of life. Through a problem-oriented and interdisciplinary approach it
aims at applied research and education on a global scale. UNU was founded in
1973 and is an autonomous organ of the UN General Assembly. The
University comprises headquarters Tokyo, Japan, and more than a dozen Institutes
and Programmes worldwide.
During the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Framework
Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in December 2009, the UN High
Commissioner for Refugees described climate change as a risk multiplier and an
accelerator of human mobility. Changing weather patterns, which include less
predictable seasons and increasingly erratic rainfall, are one of the most
important but least understood impacts of global warming. CARE International
and the UN University (UNU) have formed a strategic partnership to explore the
differential impacts of changing weather patterns on livelihoods, food security
and human mobility. Research will be conducted during mid-2011 in eight
countries (Guatemala, Peru, Kenya, Tanzania, India, Bangladesh, Thailand and
Emerging research indicates that environmental changes including climate
change currently play a role in human migration and displacement. As
environmental changes increase, migration pressures related to these changes
may also grow. For many areas in the world, more erratic weather, rising sea
levels and other climate change impacts will motivate voluntary migration,
forced migration, resettlement or other forms of human mobility. The
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) updates in late 2009 indicate
that some observed impacts of climate change - especially changes in rainfall
and sea level rise - are unfolding at rates not anticipated previously. It is,
therefore, possible that widely held expectations underestimate the problem. If
true, then environmentally induced migration and displacement may become the
defining humanitarian issue of coming decades.
Despite the significance of this challenge, we still have little
research-based knowledge or conceptual understanding about how climate change actually
affects human migration and displacement - despite widespread anecdotal
evidence, generalized assumptions and recent research findings. Research and
policy dialogues are beginning to address these gaps. Nonetheless, informal
assessments indicate that some of the most complicated, and important,
questions are being bypassed or explored at scales too small to yield the
´kinds of insights and understanding that are required.
Supported by MacArthur Foundation and AXA Re, the project is co-chaired by
UNU and CARE International (CARE USA, CARE France and CARE´s Climate Change
Center of Expertise). This multi-year activity aims to help stakeholders better
understand and effectively address the relationship among changing weather
patterns, food security, social inequalities and human mobility. In doing so,
it will enhance societal resilience and stability in the face of climatic and
other environmental changes. The project will undertake fieldwork in Latin
America, Africa and Asia, and will move methodological approaches for
investigating the relationship between climate change variability and climate
change, and societal phenomena like migration forward.
Countries supported by MacArthur Foundation include Guatemala, Bangladesh,
Ghana and Vietnam. Countries supported by the AXA Group (Peru, India, Thailand
and Tanzania) will also receive funds for community-based adaptation climate
Conceptualize the relationship between changing weather patterns (specifically rainfall and shifting seasons), food security, social inequalities (especially regarding gender) and different forms of human mobility.
Assess the potential for changing weather patterns to become a major driver of human migration and displacement in coming decades (from the present to 2030 or 2040).
Enable a range of stakeholders, including southern civil society organizations, to influence policies, plans and practical interventions in processes such as the UNFCCC climate talks; the work of UN humanitarian and development organizations; and specific committees such as the Economic and Financial Committee of the United Nations General Assembly; and regional discussions about human mobility.
Working Methods & Activities
joint national and international,
interdisciplinary research teams for each case study
combination of research methods (household
survey, Participatory Rural Approaches & expert interviews)
creation of an agent based model on climate
change and human coping strategies including migration
publication of eight Case Study Reports, Synthesis
Reports for policymakers and academic papers
community-based adaptation projects
develop tools to measure and monitor changes in adaptive capacity
public and business-to-business education/behavioural change.