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News Report Climate Change, Water Stress, Conflict and Migration

It gives me great pleasure to present you herewith the report of the symposium Climate Change, Water Stress, Conflict and Migration, held September 21st 2011 (International Peace Day) at the International Institute of Social Studies in The Hague.

The symposium was organised under the aegis of the United Nations mandated University for Peace (UPEACE, headquartered at Costa Rica) by the Netherlands Alliance for UPEACE.

The theme of the symposium was the interrelation between climate change, conflict and migration, with a special focus on the water dimension of the processes involved in these relations, as it is observed – and to be expected – that growing demand for (fresh) water and decreasing availability of good quality water will increase social and political tensions which the international community will have to address.

Climate change, together with changes in life-styles, consumption patterns and demographic developments will aggravate these tensions if and when adequate preventative and/or curative measures are not taken.

The basic objective of the symposium was to formulate recommendations for these measures in the fields of policy, international law, capacity development to face concrete situations, and to derive recommendations from observed best practices.

The results of the outcome of the symposium were summarised in a letter which I sent as Chair of the Netherlands Alliance for UPEACEto Mr Maas Goote, Chief Netherlands negotiator at the 17th Conference of the Parties of the UN Climate Change Convention (COP17) in December2011 in Durban, South Africa. This letter is included in the report (page 113).

Major speakers at the symposium were Prof. Dr. Rolain Borel, Head of the Department of Environment, Peace and Security at UPEACE (overall keynote); Major General (ret.) Muniruzzaman, President of the Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies (BIPSS), Bangladesh, on the security perspective in its various dimensions; Dr. Tamer Afifi, from the United Nations University, Institute for Environment and Human Security, Bonn, Germany, on the climate change and migration perspective; and Mr. Alexander Flavell of the Brussels’ Office of the International Organisation for Migration, who gave an overview of international migration policy. Dr.Wybe Douma, senior researcher at the T.M.C. Asser Institute, The Hague, introduced the various international legal regimes dealing with the problematique, of which a proper and practically usable definition of ‘’environmental migrants’’ remains a challenge for future discussions.

In the report you will also find a summary of a panel of experts with field experiences in, amongst others, the (exemplary!) way pastoralists are coping with their water stressed environment and in the way the functions of nature should be used and protected as indispensable tools in adapting to climate change and its impact on water.

We are most appreciative of the support received from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign AffairsCordaid (Netherlands Catholic Organisation for Relief and Development Aid), the Netherlands National Commission for UNESCO and the World Wide Fund for Nature/Netherlands. TheInternational Institute of Social Studies is to be thanked for its kind hosting of the symposium.

Coordination of programme, speakers and the writing of the background paper was in the hands of the Institute for Environmental Security/The Hague Office. The lion’s share of the work was carried out by Ms Cristy Cedillo, project officer at the institute in 2011 for the symposium.

In March 2012 the Alliance for UPEACE, in close cooperation with the University for Peace, established the UPEACE Centre The Hague with offices in the Peace Palace. Future symposia and conferences on peace issues related to the themes of Climate Change, Water Stress, Conflict and Migration will be organized by this new Centre.

It is my hope that you will enjoy reading the report and it goes without saying that we welcome any comments or additional information you may want to share with us in relation to the report or the topics addressed at the symposium. If you wish to receive more copies of the report please contact Ms Petra van der Ham at The report may also be downloaded here.


Climate change, water stress, conflict and migration – new publication

The presentations during the conference on climate change, water, conflict and migration, held on 21 September 2011 in The Hague, the Netherlands, have been bundled as papers. The publication is freely available for download.


 Climate change, water stress, conflict and migration



Climate change, conflict and migration: the water context
(conference summary)
– Karin Thomas, Marguerite de Chaisemartin and Michael van der Valk

Climate change, water stress, conflict and migration
Taking stock of current insights through a vulnerability lens
– Leon Hermans

Climate change, water stress, conflict and migration
(background paper)

Climate change-induced migrations
A research and capacity-building agenda from a human security perspective
– Rolain Borel

Water stress, conflict and migration in South Asia
– Major General ANM Muniruzzaman (retd)

Environment, climate change and human displacement

 From literature, through empirical evidence to policymaking
– Tamer Afifi

Letter to the Netherlands Chief Negotiator UN Climate Talks, Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment
– Marius Enthoven


The publication is a contribution of the Netherlands to the International Hydrological Programme (IHP) of UNESCO. 


» Migration and Climate Change (a related UNESCO publication)

Contact information Marius Enthoven Chairman Alliance for UPEACE (email:
News type Inbrief
File link
Source of information University of Peace, The Hague
Keyword(s) Climate Change, Water Stress, Conflict, mirgation, peace
Geographical coverage Netherlands,
News date 29/08/2012
Working language(s) ENGLISH