Navigating the Future: Harnessing Data-Driven Insights on Climate Mobility to Build a Common Agenda

On September 26, 2023, the Program on Refugees, Forced Displacement, and Humanitarian Responses at Yale MacMillian Center hosted David Lönnberg, Senior Advisor for Youth and Outreach, and Sarah Rosengaertner, Lead for Knowledge and Practice, of the Global Centre for Climate Mobility (GCCM). Drawing on their experiences overseeing the Africa Climate Mobility Initiative (ACMI) and the Greater Caribbean Climate Mobility Initiative (GCCMI), Lönnberg and Rosengaertner discussed their data-driven insights on climate mobility trends. 

Using an evidenced based approach to promote policy, the GCCM focuses on people-centered climate action and sustainable development. Lönnberg and Rosengaertner outlined the program’s goals to build knowledge, advance policy, and accelerate diplomacy. They practice an anticipatory approach to climate mobility that minimizes loss, allows for collaboration with policymakers, and guides the development of resources in climate mobility hotspots.  

The aim of the African Climate Mobility Initiative is to unite forces among levels of governance and across the continent to plan and prepare for the impacts of climate mobility. As a continent, Africa suffers disproportionately from climate change, however Lönnberg and Rosengaertner’s report found that climate change literacy rates are low across the continent, inhibiting safe decision making as climate risks rise. Lönnberg and Rosengaertner also found that even though people across Africa recognize they are suffering from climate disruptions, a majority do not consider moving as an option, and 23 percent lack the necessary means to relocate even if they would like to. The model also demonstrated that people were far more likely to move based on economic downturn than climate disruptions. Additionally, the ACMI’s report determined that across the continent, women are more reluctant to relocate than men, and people under the age of 24 are more willing to move than older generations. Their report predicted that by 2050, there will be 11 and 12.5 million cross-border migrants in Africa, with only 0.5 to 1.2 million of these migrants due to climate change. By 2050, the report demonstrated that up to 113 million people will relocate within their home country due to climate disruptions. Lönnberg and Rosengaertner explained that their most useful research lies in hotspot analysis, which tracks where large groups are likely to move in and out of between 2020 and 2050. Using these conclusions, they advise national, state and local governments on prospective population shifts within their territories.  

Currently the ACMI is working within Uganda, where they predict major population shifts in the coming years. Lönnberg and Rosengaertner presented that Uganda’s prominent climate hazard is drought. They anticipate there will be drastic movement out of the country coupled with internal relocation. The next steps for the ACMI in Uganda are engaging with a diverse group of stakeholders to develop mobility accommodations, pilot intervention in hotspot locations, and increase climate literacy.  

Lönnberg and Rosengaertner launched the Greater Caribbean Climate Mobility Initiative (GCCMI) in 2022. In the coming two years, they hope to draw conclusions about mobility hotspots within the Caribbean. By 2024, Lönnberg and Rosengaertner plan to begin consultations with individual countries in the region. The GCCMI’s research process and modeling will follow that of the African Climate Mobility Initiative.  

Written by Sarah Markey, an undergraduate at the Jackson School of Global Affairs at Yale

Tuesday, September 26, 2023