Environment and international migration and their relationship with development are among the most pressing issues on the contemporary global agenda. They have been the focus of major international attention recently with the release of the Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the holding of the first Global Forum on Migration and Development in Belgium in July 2007. Despite the enhanced profile of environment and migration and their relationship with development, little of this increased attention has been concerned with the complex and multidirectional relationships between them. In both research and policy, environment and international migration’s linkages with economic development have evolved separately. Yet it is apparent that their interrelationships are of considerable significance for understanding social, economic and environmental change and for developing effective interventions to reduce poverty and move toward sustainability.
This paper explores the conceptual framework of the interrelationships between migration, environment and development through an analysis of the current literature. It offers an in depth analysis of the various permutations of this relationship: a) environment as a cause of migration, in particular environmental disasters and environmental degradation; b) climate change and migration; c) displacement by large projects; d) impacts of migration on destination environments. The implications these have for policy are considered.