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Central American Climate Migration is a Human Security Crisis

Central American migrants in Mexico City, November 9, 2018 – photo by Wotancito

By Amali Tower

In the pursuit of addressing the ‘root causes’ of migration from Central America to the U.S. southern border, the United States is motivated by a foreign policy built on seeking to improve conditions in Central America countries. However, this policy fails to fully grasp the extreme conditions that now mark contexts of forced displacement. 

The Central American Integration System (SICA) — the economic and political organization of Central American states — has expressed the need to approach forced migration through a human security and development lens, rather than a traditional hard security one, and through coordinated regional responses. SICA identifies the structural causes of migration as poverty and inequality, insufficient growth, high demographic growth in cities – with rural areas lagging, high levels of violence, a wage gap between the region and the United States, family reunification needs in the United States, and vulnerability to climate change. SICA notes that Guatemala and El Salvador, and at times Nicaragua, are among the 15 countries in the world most exposed to disasters.


The Biden Administration and Climate Security: Week 3

Reuters/Rodi Said

Last week’s big climate security action in the United States came in the form of another Executive Order from President Biden: this time on planning for the impact of climate change on migration. The order calls for:

“…a report on climate change and its impact on migration, including forced migration, internal displacement, and planned relocation.  This report shall include, at a minimum, discussion of the international security implications of climate-related migration; options for protection and resettlement of individuals displaced directly or indirectly from climate change; mechanisms for identifying such individuals, including through referrals; proposals for how these findings should affect use of United States foreign assistance to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change; and opportunities to work collaboratively with other countries, international organizations and bodies, non-governmental organizations, and localities to respond to migration resulting directly or indirectly from climate change.”


The Complexity of the Climate Change, Migration and Conflict Nexus

Reuters/Rodi Said

By Dr. Marc Kodack

Researchers are actively assessing the interactions between climate/environmental change and migration (here) and, climate change, migration, and conflict (here and here) to increase our understanding of the diverse effects that climate change will have on populations around the world. Understanding the complex interaction between climate change, migration and conflict requires a theoretical model that can be empirically supported particularly when causality is too often assumed, but not analytically demonstrated, e.g., resource scarcity driven by climate change leads to out-migration which, in turn, results in conflict with populations living in receiving areas. We are thus looking back to a 2015 article by Brzoska and Fröhlich for a comprehensive understanding of the “environmental, economic and sociopolitical consequences of climate change contributing to migration and the different functions of migration in this context.”


The Center for Climate and Security on Climate One: Migration and Resilience

Francesco Femia_2013SherriGoodman2018Hill_AliceIn case you missed it, the team of Center for Climate and Security (CCS) analysts has featured significantly in recent episodes of the excellent Climate One, a free radio program that is “broadcast on 90 public radio stations across the country and around the world, including on NPR International, Armed Forces Radio and SiriusXM.” This included a February 7 interview on climate change, migration and security with CCS Co-Founder, Francesco Femia, and another program on climate resilience and security, released on February 14, featuring CCS Senior Strategist Sherri Goodman, and CCS Advisory Board Member, Alice Hill. Click the links above to either listen to the full programs, or read the transcripts. Below are a few excerpts from the interviews. (more…)