Climate Change, Migration, and Health Research in the European Region– a call to action


Policy Brief

Lancet Migration European Regional Hub

November 9, 2021


Lancet Migration is a global collaboration between The Lancet and researchers, implementers,
and others in the field of migration and health that aims to address evidence gaps and drive policy
change, building on the recommendations of the UCL-Lancet Commission on Migration and Health
published in December 2018 ( Launched in
2021, the Lancet Migration European Regional Hub, co-hosted by the Geneva Centre of Humanitarian Studies, aims to bring together researchers, civil society, non-governmental bodies, multilateral organizations, policymakers, and migrants across the region to encourage the development of regional research projects and link academia with policy and practice to translate evidence into action. One of the core research priorities for Lancet Migration is the climate change, migration, and health nexus.

In 2019, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) defined the term “climate
migration” as “the movement of a person or groups of persons who, predominantly for reasons of
sudden or progressive change in the environment due to climate change, are obliged to leave their
habitual place of residence, or choose to do so, either temporarily or permanently, within a State or
across an international border.” On September 28th, 2021, a session was held at the 12th European
Congress on Tropical Medicine and International Health (ECTMIH) conference, ‘Lancet Migration
European Regional Hub: accelerating research for climate change-influenced migration health.’
Furthering this, during the COP26 in Glasgow, Lancet Migration co-hosted two high-level panel
discussions. Building on lessons learned from these dialogues, we call on researchers, practitioners,
and policymakers to join us in advocating for improved synergies across the migration, climate change and health nexus.

Evidence introduction

It is well recognized that climate change is detrimental to planetary health and
disproportionately affects those most vulnerable. Faced with the consequences of disasters, conflict, resource and power inequities, and limited livelihood and service opportunities, large numbers of people are being displaced from their homes. Infectious diseases, access to food and water, sanitation and hygiene, safe housing and communities, injuries, and mental health are some of the many health issues encountered as a result of forced migration. Since 2013, the European Union has identified climate change-influenced migration as a health policy issue. However, few focused research initiatives have evolved. It is not well understood to what extent health is impacted and how access to health services can be improved in the European Region in response to climate change-influenced migration. More data, both quantitative and qualitative, is needed on specific types of migration, how these are set to change in the European context, and their health implications, to understand individual experiences and needs as well as population-level impacts.

Read the full paper here.