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International migration and climate adaptation in an era of hardening borders


Climate change will almost certainly generate higher rates of migration and displacement within low-income countries, but will it also generate more international migration? This depends on the receptiveness of destination countries, many of which are currently restricting immigration, criminalizing asylum seekers and using emergent technologies to tighten borders. Should these trends persist, migration to higher-income countries will decline, trapping people in deteriorating situations and reducing adaptive capacity in low-income countries. The United Nations Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration provides an alternative pathway for international migration that builds capacity and sustainability for a climate-disrupted future. The implications of current trends for migrants, policymakers and researchers are detailed in this Perspective.

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Research on climate-related migration by R.M. is supported by an Insight Grant from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

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Correspondence to Robert McLeman.

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Peer review information Nature Climate Change thanks Ricardo Safra de Campos and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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McLeman, R. International migration and climate adaptation in an era of hardening borders. Nat. Clim. Chang. 9, 911–918 (2019).

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