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10 Sep 2012 | HICAP

Roundtable explores links between migration and adaptation

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A roundtable at ICIMOD on 23 August brought together national stakeholders from Nepal, including representatives of government, NGOs, and international organizations, working on migration to discuss the role of labour migration in adaptation to environmental and socioeconomic changes in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region.

The roundtable was held to gather input and ideas for a study that ICIMOD is carrying out on the role of migration in adaptation to change, as part of the Himalayan Climate Change Adaptation Programme.

Interest in this topic among global stakeholders in the discourse on climate change and adaptation is increasing. And in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region, where migration and remittances play a large role in sustaining the lives of many local communities, this has opened up a whole new area for research and discussion. There is much left to be explored in this regard, and the roundtable aimed to generate input and feedback to identify knowledge gaps and guide research.

Remittances play an important role in Nepal. They not only contribute to the national economy but also provide relief and aid recovery in times of disasters. Although international migration and foreign employment often overshadow the role of internal migration and domestic remittances in the national discourse on migration in Nepal, this is one area that deserves more focus in the context of adaptation to change.

Although migration is often viewed in isolation, the roundtable aimed to develop links between migration and adaptation, including discussion on the opportunities and challenges to channelling financial remittances and more enduring social remittances to aid in adaptation and development in origin countries. The roundtable also touched on the social costs of migration; the need to make migration safer and more systematic and protect the rights of migrant workers, especially women; and the provision of information and training to migrant labourers prior to departure and recourse to legal assistance in the event of problems overseas.

As both domestic and international labour migration trends in Nepal continue to rise, the roundtable was recognized as timely and important from both national development and adaptation perspectives. The ultimate objective is to create conducive conditions that will allow people to make their own decisions on whether to stay or migrate, and should they choose to migrate, to help them reap maximum benefits from the process.

Through research on the role of migration in adaptation to change, ICIMOD aims to engage policymakers and practitioners in the region working on migration and adaptation. Hence, the engagement of key stakeholders from Nepal such as the Ministry of Labour and Employment and the Department of Foreign Employment, the International Labour OrganisationGerman Agency for International Development (GIZ)Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, and the Pourakhi Group. Similar roundtables are planned for China, India, and Pakistan with additional representation from the private sector.

Over 30 participants attended the roundtable, which was organized by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and Nepal Institute for Development Studies (NIDS).

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