Lessons from past forced resettlement for climate change migration


Book section


Hugo, G.


Lessons from past forced resettlement for climate change migration




Piguet, Etienne
Pécoud, Antoine
de Guchteneire, Paul

Book Title

Migration and Climate Change


Cambridge University Press


Much of the discussion around the potential impacts of climate change have centred around the issue of forced population displacement and the role for policy in resettling populations in anticipation of climate change impacts, especially inundation as a result of sea-level rises. In this context it is important to realise that the post-World War II period has seen massive planned resettlements of population from which a great deal of experience concerning what types of policies and programs are effective and what are not has been accumulated. It is necessary to distil some of the lessons from this experience to assist in the development of resettlement schemes associated with climate change related displacement. Resettlement experience has been derived not just from displacement associated with mega-projects but also from planned resettlements like Indonesia’s transmigration program, displacement from physical disasters such as the Asian Tsunami and in anticipation of physical disasters such as volcanic eruptions. The past experience has been entirely in resettlement within national boundaries and overwhelmingly on rural to rural resettlement. The lessons learned include the importance of full consultation with both origin and destination communities at all stages of the process, the necessity for the careful planning and allowing sufficient time and funding for all stages of the process. Finally, it is important to note that the last half century has seen massive redistributions of population in response to a range of economic, social, political and environmental changes over the last half century. Climate change related displacement must not be seen as something for which there is no precedent. Climate change related migration must be seen in the context of an existing migration system and policies relating to it need to take full cogniscence of past experience.


Hugo, G. (2011). Lessons from past forced resettlement for climate change migration. In E. Piguet, A. Pécoud, & P. de Guchteneire (Eds.), Migration and Climate Change (pp. 260-288). Cambridge : Cambridge University Press.