South-East Asia is commonly cited as being among the most vulnerable regions in the world to the impacts of climate change, environmental degradation and disasters resulting from natural hazards. Societies and economies will face increased climate risk without accelerated adaptation and mitigation efforts.
Increased human mobility is one of several likely outcomes that could result from these challenges. In its most recent, Sixth Assessment Report, for example, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has noted that climate change has started to drive voluntary and involuntary migration and will continue to do so in the near future. Existing evidence points to deteriorating economic conditions and livelihoods being one of the main drivers for climate-induced migration (IPCC AR6 report).
Within the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), Thailand remains the major country of destination, given its stronger economic position. Migrant workers play a strong role in various sectors of the Thai economy. Many of these sectors, such as agriculture, tourism and fisheries, may in turn be vulnerable to climate change, thus driving additional internal displacement. Climate change impacts both migrant and host populations by leading to increased urbanization and pressure on limited resources, potentially limiting access to food and water sources and giving rise to negative impact on both physical and psychosocial health.
IOM is carrying out additional advocacy and research to better identify the linkages between impact of climate change and migration. IOM’s objectives in this domain remain focused to generate evidence to highlight the links between climate change and migration and working with stakeholders to design appropriate policy and operational interventions to support climate change adaptation and migrants impacted by climate change at local, national and regional level.
Provided that environmental migration is adequately managed and facilitated the negative consequences associated with migration such as increasing pressure on infrastructure and services as well as declining health and educational outcomes among migrants can be minimized. Migrants have a wealth of experiences and skills that can positively contribute to the resilience of Thailand and their remittances to their families back home offers a critical injection of cash flow which can help preserve local communities and support investments in building resilience.
IOM Thailand is working to raise awareness on the new trends and migration patterns brought about by climate change and liaising with government counterparts at national and provincial levels to better understand how migrants can contribute and be part of the resilience strategies of Thai communities.
The Organization pursues three broad objectives in managing environmental migration, intervening at each stage of the migration cycle:
To minimize forced and unmanaged migration as much as possible;
Where forced migration does occur, to ensure assistance and protection for those affected and to seek durable solutions;
To facilitate the role of migration as an adaptation strategy to climate change.
IOM Strategic Aims
Governments and authorities are empowered, policymakers’ and practitioners’ capacities are enhanced to address complex migration, environment and climate matters;
Responses to support migrants and vulnerable communities are enabled and improved;
Human mobility matters are integrated in key policy areas dealing with climate, environment and land.