It is undisputed that climate change causes extreme weather events, that pose a real threat to populations and contributes to long-term changes in temperature or precipitation, creating consequences for the living conditions of people. In order to address the stakes raised by these changes, the Centre organized two events dedicated to climate change, health and migration in 2016.
On June 10, 2016, around 80 participants gathered at the French embassy in Berlin to attend the conference “Climate Migration and Health“, co-organized by the Centre Virchow Villermé and the science department of the Embassy. The aim of the conference was to highlight the links between climate change, the consequences for living conditions and the impact on health and health systems in the countries of origin and in Europe. The impact of climate change related to migratory movements and public health were also addressed.
The health experts emphasized during the panel discussion that migrants who fled to Germany and France did not pose a threat to the health systems, and reinforced need in continuing efforts to enable them to access medical and psychosocial treatment. Experts also explained that in general climate-induced migration takes place mainly within countries, and also history shows that extreme weather events have resulted only sporadically in significant migratory movements. Women are, as examples of areas in Sub-Sahara show, the most vulnerable and the most affected group. Programs and offers of help from non-profit and governmental organizations were presented.
On November 9, 2016, around 70 participants joined the side event organized by CVV at the COP22 in Marrakech, “Climate Change, Human migration & Health”. This event organized in collaboration with the USPC research group “Politiques de la Terre”, the University of Geneva, and the University Cadi Ayad and in partnership with international organizations, academia and the private sector, aimed at giving a comprehensive approach of the topic.
Two round tables were organized. The first one explored the theme of “Migration as an adaptation strategy against climate change” and the second one the impacts of climate change on health. The conference offered a holistic view of the complex interactions between these topics. The difficulties of defining migration were stressed and the fact that migration and health related to climate change arouses misperceptions was highlighted. Migration as a positive adaptation strategy on the part of those affected by climate change was also discussed.
In the field of research as well as in the media, the issues of climate change, migration and health are rarely linked. To encourage this dialogue and in addition to these conferences the Centre continues to produce interdisciplinary MOOCs on the topic.