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Reports & guides | 7 February 2014

Moving Stories: climate and migration


The voices of people who move in the context of environmental change are currently absent from the debate about how this issue is addressed.

Moving Stories highlights these powerful, inspiring and often traumatic stories. Testimonies from ten regions across the world have been compiled from local news reports, academic journals and interviews recorded by civil society groups. The stories highlight different kinds of movement affected by slow– and rapid–onset disasters. The stories show us that movement linked to environmental change happens very differently in different parts of the world. The stories also reveal that individual decisions to move or stay vary widely even in response to the same disaster.

“I go to get registered [as an IDP] and they dismiss me. I don’t want to live here. I don’t want my children out on the streets. In my village I have little but I look after my family.”

There is no “typical” migrant. Moving Stories demonstrate the reality of migration and environmental change. A number of stories show how people have used moving seasonally and temporarily, rather than permanently, as a way of adapting to changing environmental conditions. Several stories demonstrate that remittances from other migrants have increased the resilience of people affected by disasters. Most importantly these testimonies give a human voice to this complex and controversial issue.

“…times have changed … The rain is coming later now, so that we produce less. The only solution is to go away, at least for a while. Each year I’m working for 3 to 5 months in Wyoming. That’s my main source of income.”

We don’t have all the answers. But we hope the Moving Stories project helps us to ask better questions about how this issue is addressed. How can moving become an empowering way for some people to adapt to climate change? What is the role of remittances in building resilience to climate change? Will our existing legal frameworks for protecting the rights of people who move be up to the job in a generation’s time?

“About five years ago the sea ice used to take longer to melt. It lasted about 10 months but now it’s only 8 months. This harms our way of life, our way of hunting, our way of fishing, and our way of travelling from one place to another.”
Nunavut, Canada.

These are all unanswered questions. The Moving Stories project and our other work in this area is designed to help everyone consider these questions. If the voices of affected communities are absent from the debate, we have no hope of finding solutions for the people who need them most

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