Understanding Climate-Related Mobility in Contexts of Urbanization

This roundtable examined the challenges of climate-related mobility and processes of urbanization in the Global South.

- America/New York

The roundtable discussion focused on policy and practice efforts aimed at:

  • Better understanding the relationships between climate-related mobility and urbanization processes in the Global South
  • Tackling the structural inequalities that undermine adaptation to climate change
  • Exploring opportunities for South-South cooperation to address the consequences of climate change
  • Addressing the policy implications of climate-related mobility to cities.

The online event was aimed at UN agencies, Member States, NGOs, civil society organizations, academia, and others with an interest in better understanding the policy implications of climate-related mobility.

Partners: The event was organized by the United Nations University Centre for Policy Research (UNU-CPR) in partnership with the MIDEQ Hub.

A recording of the discussion is available here


According to the World Bank’s Groundswell report, climate change could force 216 million people to migrate within their own countries by 2050. Whilst mobility can be an effective strategy for adaptation to climate change, misleading claims about climate-induced mass migration from the Global South to the Global North (e.g. Africa to Europe) continue to surface in media and public policy domains.

Contrary to popular belief, most climate-related mobility is likely to take place in the Global South, and mainly within rather than between countries. People rarely move beyond borders if they migrate for reasons related to climate change. Rather, they tend to move to cities within their own countries because of the perceived employment, education, and healthcare opportunities that urban areas offer. As engines of economic development and sites of social dynamism, cities are particularly attractive for people in climate-vulnerable rural areas where climatic events such as droughts and heatwaves complicate existing livelihood opportunities that were already challenged by poverty, economic inequality, and population growth.

Focusing on cities and processes of urbanization requires us to embed our understanding of climate related mobility within broader developmental processes and structural inequalities. Even when people migrate for reasons related to climate change, political and economic structures, and sociocultural norms play an important role in shaping migration decisions, often reflected in migration patterns that have existed for many years.


Dina Ionesco

Senior Advisor on Migration
Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) & Vulnerable Twenty Group (V20)

Sarah Rosengaertner

Global Lead of Knowledge & Practice
Global Centre for Climate Mobility

Roman Hoffmann

Research Scholar
International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

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