Thursday, January 17, 2019
GAO Report: Climate Change: Activities of Selected Agencies to Address Potential Impact on Global Migration
The U.S. General Accountability Office has released a report that might be of interest to students of migration and climate change. The report is entitled Climate Change: Activities of Selected Agencies to Address Potential Impact on Global Migration.
The report summarizes its findings as follows:
From fiscal years 2014 through 2018, a variety of executive branch actions related to climate change—such as executive orders and strategies—affected the Department of State (State), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Department of Defense (DOD), including their activities that could potentially address the nexus of climate change and migration. For example, a fiscal year 2016 presidential memorandum—rescinded in 2017—required agencies to develop implementation plans to identify the potential impact of climate change on human mobility, among other things. In general, however, climate change as a driver of migration was not a focus of the executive branch actions. For example, a fiscal year 2014 executive order—also rescinded in 2017—requiring agencies to prepare for the impacts of climate change did not highlight migration as a particular concern.
State, USAID, and DOD have discussed the potential effects of climate change on migration in agency plans and risk assessments. For example, State and USAID required climate change risk assessments when developing country and regional strategies, and a few of the strategies reviewed by GAO identified the nexus of climate change and migration as a risk. However, State changed its approach in 2017, no longer providing missions with guidance on whether and how to include climate change risks in their integrated country strategies. In doing so, State did not include in its 2018 guidance to the missions any information on how to include climate change risks, should the missions choose to do so. Without clear guidance, State may miss opportunities to identify and address issues related to climate change as a potential driver of migration.
The three agencies have been involved in climate change related activities but none were specifically focused on the nexus with global migration. For example, USAID officials said that the agency's adaptation efforts, such as its Pastoralist Areas Resilience Improvement through Market Expansion project in Ethiopia, were the most likely to include activities, such as enhancing resilience, that can indirectly address the issue of climate change as a driver of migration.
A U.S. Agency for International Development Project in Ethiopia Includes Activities to Enhance Resilience That Can Indirectly Address Climate Change as a Driver of Migration