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Migration, immobility and displacement outcomes following extreme events

Black, R., Arnell, N. W., Adger, W. N., Thomas, D. and Geddes, A. (2013) Migration, immobility and displacement outcomes following extreme events. Environmental Science & Policy, 27 (supp. 1). S32-S43. ISSN 1462-9011

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.envsci.2012.09.001


There is growing international concern at the rise in the severity of impact and frequency of extreme environmental events, potentially as a manifestation of global environmental change. There is a widely held belief that this trend could be linked with a future rise in the migration or displacement of human populations. However, recent approaches to migration influenced by environmental change call into question the notion that migration can be ascribed in a singular way to particular environmental causes or events. This paper undertakes a systematic review of evidence on population movements associated with weather-related extreme events. The paper demonstrates that in the face of extreme environmental events, it is important to distinguish between three outcomes – migration, displacement, and immobility – each of which interact and respond to multiple drivers. It also proposes a further insight: that both those who move, and those who do not move, may find themselves trapped and vulnerable in the face of such extreme events. A review of evidence suggests that short-term displacement that goes hand-in-hand with loss of life, destruction of property and economic disruption poses significant risks not because it is ‘environmental migration’, but because it represents a failure of adaptation to environmental change.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Interdisciplinary Research Centres (IDRCs) > Walker Institute
Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:31820

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