Gaps and Opportunities in the Climate Change, Migration and Health Nexus: Insights from a Questionnaire Based Study of Practitioners and Researchers
This is an open access article.
While climate change and migration are separately recognised as public health challenges, the combination of the two – climate change-induced migration which is predicted to increase through this century – requires further research to ensure population health needs are met. As such, this paper aims to identify initial gaps and opportunities in the nexus of climate change, migration and health research.
We conducted a questionnaire based study of academics and practitioners working in the fields of climate change, migration and health. Open-ended responses were thematically analysed.
Responses from 72 practitioners collected in October 2021 were categorised into a thematic framework encompassing i) gaps and opportunities: across health care and outcomes, impact pathways between climate change and migration, most at risk groups (specific actors) and regions, and longitudinal perspectives on migrant journeys; alongside ii) methodological challenges; iii) ethical challenges, and iv) advancing research with better funding and collaboration. Broadly, findings suggested that research must clarify the interlinkages and drivers between climate change, migration, health (systems), and intersecting factors including the broader determinants of health. Study of the dynamics of migration needs to extend beyond the current focus of rural-urban migration and international migration into high income countries, to include internal displacement and immobile/ trapped populations. Research could better include considerations of vulnerable groups currently underrepresented, people with specific health needs, and focus more on most at-risk regions. Research methodology could be strengthened through better data and definitions, clear ethical guidelines, and increased funding and collaboration.
This study describes gaps, challenges and needs within research on the nexus of climate change, migration and health, in acknowledgement of the complexity of studying across multiple intersecting factors. Working with complexity can be supported by using the framework and findings to support researchers grappling with these intersecting themes.