(This is our initial reaction. We will be publishing reaction from various experts later this week.)
What does it actually say?
The outcome of the Paris negotiations creates a “task force” whose job will be to “develop recommendations for integrated approaches to avert, minimize and address displacement related to the adverse impacts of climate change”
What happens next?
More negotiations. Who is on the task force? Who leads it? What can and can’t it do? This will all have to be developed and agreed at future talks.
However, here are a few key points we feel should shape the task force:
- It should be lead by countries most vulnerable to displacement linked to climate change.
- Within the leadership of those countries, there should be a strong role for civil society groups who are already working with migrants and displacees.
- The priorities of people who move (rather than other vested interests) must shape the remit and priorities of the task-force.
Is it everything we could have hoped for?
That depends on what you were hoping for. Two points seem clear:
- Before Paris there was no agreement at all, let alone anything that mentioned displacement or migration linked to climate change. Now there is an agreement between nearly 200 countries to tackle climate change, and included in that agreement is a commitment to address displacement linked to climate impacts.
- On the other hand the text of the final deal is not as ambitious as many had hoped. This applies to the text of migration and displacement too. Because of these more ambitious previous drafts, it is also the case that the Paris outcome is not as ambitious as it could have been when it comes to migration or displacement.
Whether you feel optimistic or defeated by this will mainly depend on what you thought might happen.
What don’t we know?
Several previous drafts of the document referred to displacement and migration. Or even to displacement, migration and relocation. It’s not entirely clear why the final draft only talks about displacement and what the implications of this might be. However, it could narrow the remit of the task force to only looking at instances where people are very clearly forced to move by climate-linked disasters. This could exclude work exploring people whose movement appears more like migration, or work looking at migration as a way of adapting to climate impacts. Having said that, the remit of the task force is left open enough that it could also include these issues. We simply don’t know yet.
What does it all mean?
Obviously it doesn’t mean an end to displacement caused by climate impacts. It could mean the start of a process that does any number of things that might help people who move due to climate change. Exactly what those things are is not spelled out in the agreement. No doubt states, international agencies and civil society groups are formulating their ideas of what they want, and how to pursue those through the new task force. The actual shape of this task force and what it does will be thrashed out over the next few years.
Alex Randall is the project manager of the Climate Change and Migration Coalition. He is author of a number of the Coalition’s reports, as well as numerous blogs and comment pieces.
Image: Adapted from David Stanley (CC BY 2.0) from Flickr.