Purpose – This study aims to assess policies and mechanisms in Caribbean and Pacific small island
developing states (SIDS) that address climate-induced migration and displacement. The migration of
communities away from vulnerable regions is highly likely to be an adaptation strategy used in low-elevation
SIDS, as the impacts of climate change are likely to result in significant loss and damage, threatening their
very territorial existence. SIDS must ensure that residents relocate to less vulnerable locations and may need
to consider international movement of residents. Ad hoc approaches to migration and displacement may
result in increased vulnerability of residents, making the development and enforcement of comprehensive
national policies that address these issues a necessity.

Design/methodology/approach – Interviews with United Nations Framework Convention on Climate
Change (UNFCCC) negotiators for SIDS as well as analysis of secondary data, including Intended Nationally
Determined Contributions, are utilized to determine policies and mechanisms in place that focus on climateinduced
migration and displacement.

Findings – While climate change is acknowledged as an existential threat, few SIDS have policies or
mechanisms in place to guide climate-induced migration and displacement. Potential exists for migration and
displacement to be included in policies that integrate disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation
along with national sustainable development plans. Regional bodies are beneficial to providing guidance to
SIDS in the development of nationally appropriate frameworks to address climate-induced migration and

Originality/value – Existing gaps in policies and mechanisms and challenges faced by SIDS in developing
strategies to address climate-induced migration and displacement are explored. Best practices and
recommendations for strategies for SIDS to address migration and displacement are provided.

Keywords: Small island developing states, Climate-induced migration, Loss and damage

Paper type: Research paper

Publication Year
2 017
Adelle Thomas, Lisa Benjamin
Resource Type
Emerald Insight