Migrant networks and climate change adaptation

Migration is an important means to cope with the impacts of climate-related shocks. Several factors, among which the presence of networks of prior migrants, aid this adaptation mechanism. A new article on Nature Climate Change by Cristina Cattaneo explains how.

Climatic shocks such as extreme weather events, which are exacerbated by climate change, are a possible driving force of migrations. Moving within or outside national borders is an important adaptation strategy to cope with climate change impacts. But migrating is not always possible, mainly for its monetary and psychological costs.

On the basis of the literature available on the topic, the article “Migrant networks and adaptation“, recently published on Nature Climate Change and authored by the scientist Cristina Cattaneo, highlights that the existing networks of prior migrants significantly affects the ability to use migration as an adaptation strategy.

“Research shows that an existing migrant network in the country of destination potentially increases the chance of leaving a community after an extreme weather event” affirms Dr. Cattaneo, who is head of the Climate Migration Unit at the RFF-CMCC European Institute on Economics and the Environment. But in the article, she also affirms that when the size of the established network is limited, the same weather shock reduces emigration potentials. “Further studies in this field are important because we need an indication of where vulnerable populations might become locked into their geography”, concludes Cattaneo. “Certain populations may become trapped in vulnerable locations as a consequence of climate shocks”.

For more information, read the article on Nature Climate Change:

Cattaneo C., Migrant networks and adaptation, Nature Climate Change, VOL 9, December 2019, 907–910, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-019-0646-y

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