Improving data on human mobility in the context of environmental change, disasters and climate change: Priorities for action

Despite important progress over the past years, data collection on human mobility (e.g. displacement and migration) in the context of disasters and environmental and climate change is still disparate and facing several challenges, in particular when it comes to slow-onset environmental change and national and local-level dynamics. While figures on displacement in the aftermath of disasters are global in coverage, these data are not comprehensive and continue to undercount the full extent of movements. The lack of time series and geospatially referenced data makes it difficult to assess situations as they evolve over time.

In addition, new methods such as innovation through big data provide opportunities that can further be strengthened in trying to estimate the extent of movements in contexts of disasters and degrading environment. These new methods can fill gaps, indicate where people have moved from and to and enhance the timeliness of this information. In some cases, these new methods could be used to inform life-saving early warnings.

Against this background, IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre, the Platform on Disaster Displacement (PDD) and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) organized a technical expert meeting on “Improving data on human mobility in the context of environmental change, disasters and climate change: Priorities for action” in Berlin on 25 and 26 April.

The workshop’s aim was to take of stock of existing gaps in data collection on displacement within countries and across borders as well as disparate data collection on slow-onset environmental change. In addition, participants discussed how new methods such as innovation through big data could contribute to estimating the extent of movements in contexts of disasters and degrading environments.

As a result, an action plan was developed to address those gaps and will feed into other upcoming meetings and the work of the PDD.