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UNHCR’s guest speaker Benjamin Schraven on Climate Migration

Migration is already a dominant issue in European societies and will therefore play a key role in the upcoming elections. However, the importance of the topic will not diminish in the future, quite the contrary: climate change is becoming an increasingly important reason for people to leave their homes to escape unbearable living conditions. Researcher Benjamin Schraven, who explained the importance of the topic to the UNHCR delegates at their third session, is working on precisely this phenomenon.

Climate migration is so special because it represents the culmination of two huge challenges. The exact terminology for distinguishing climate change from other demographic, economic or cultural migration factors has not yet been clarified. However, the influence of the new factor migration is undeniable.

Picture Source: Pixabay

Schraven criticises the narratives surrounding migration for being responsible for a "securitized discourse": this only considers the traditional understanding of security in terms of border integrity or internal security of states. However, the security of the people themselves is mostly being ignored. Although climate change will not significantly cause new conflicts, it will very likely fuel already existing ones. Schraven explains that such scenarios would be less likely in democratic and therefore consensus-oriented systems. However, according to him, such effective protection regimes do not exist, particularly in the affected regions. Although international law offers several starting-points for the prevention and regulation of climate migration, the situation is complicated due to numerous actors in a “polycentric field”.

Ultimately, climate change will increasingly act as a multiplier of crises. In conclusion, Schraven called upon the delegates not to meet these challenges with alarmism, but with a sober analysis in order to live up to the responsibility of the global community.

Jan Ecker


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