26 Nov Waltz with development: insights on the developmentalization of climate-induced migration
Waltz with development: insights on the developmentalization of climate-induced migration
Migration & Development
The idea of migration as an adaptation strategy has gained traction in the debates on climate change and mobility. It emphasises migrants’(economic) agency and praises remittances as source of funding for household and community resilience. The environmental determinism of the previously dominant narratives on ‘climate refugees’ gives way to more accurate understanding of how environmental conditions interact with migration processes, thereby facilitating a convinced engagement by the migration and development communities. This article interrogates the discourses on migration as adaptation through the long-standing ‘migration and development’ debates. We show that, despite their aura of novelty within climate policy, the ‘new’ discourses build on ‘old’ foundations – i.e. the optimistic swings of the “migration anddevelopment pendulum” (de Haas 2012). Moreover, the ‘migration as adaptation’ thesis has not come with a deeper engagement with the structural inequalities that (re)produce socio-ecological vulnerabilities, impeding the mobility of some while forcing others into displacement. Rather, it mirrors the neoliberal version of the classical optimist take on the migration-development nexus, through which mainstream international agendas have tried to foster development and discipline mobility in the last few decades. The extent to which this proves a positive turn in climate (migration) policy is up to debate.