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Evaluating Climate-Related Migration Forecasting Models

Screenshot of cover of Research Technical Assistance Center Evaluating Cliamte-Related Migration Forecasting Models climate change foresight research brief
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By Kerilyn Schewel, Sarah W. Dickerson, B. Madson, Gabriela Nagle Alverio

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Climate change will have significant impacts on all aspects of human society, including population movements. In some cases, populations will be displaced by natural disasters and sudden-onset climate events. In other cases, climate change will slowly reshape the economic, social, and political order, which will influence how and where people migrate. Planning for the wide spectrum of future climate-related impacts on mobility is a key challenge facing development planners and policymakers.

Human migration brings challenges and opportunities to both sending and receiving societies. Migration is a key adaptation strategy vulnerable households can use to cope with climate change; the money migrants send home enhances the resilience of households staying in origin areas. Destination societies will experience benefits or strain from in-migration depending on key investments—in housing, jobs, infrastructure, and social services. Planning for these investments requires an understanding of where people might go.

This project evaluated prevailing and promising modeling approaches for forecasting climate-related migration for the next 30 years. We reviewed 20 forecasting models relevant to USAID’s strategic interests and analyzed 9 models in-depth to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of different modeling approaches. Our report benefited from the insight and expertise of eight climate-related migration experts and modelers.

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Policy Brief, Climate & Sustainability