Cities will face pressures from climate impacts and climate-induced migration

Cities face a range of pressures caused by forced migration, whether it is induced by the climate crisis or by other related causes. Conversely, internally displaced people and migrants can positively contribute to thriving economies and stronger social cohesion. This C40-MMC initiative builds city capacity to address the challenges and opportunities of addressing climate and migration jointly through ambitious advocacy and action.

Whether cities are the origin, transit point or destination for climate-induced migration, cities will face increasing pressures both from climate impacts and climate-induced movements in the coming years. For example, in the US alone, sea level rise could displace 13 million people by the end of the century – the largest mass migration in North America. As of 2017, 58 percent of refugees and at least 80 percent of Internally Displaced Persons live in urban areas. 

The climate migration ‘nexus’ and climate-induced migration flows will impact cities, their infrastructures and services and their socio-economic health. If not acknowledged, managed and understood, these flows could affect cities’ capacity to recover from the global COVID-19 pandemic and thrive in a post-pandemic world. Mayors and local leaders play a critical role in addressing these challenges; their actions to mitigate or adapt to the climate crisis can either facilitate the integration and inclusion of migrants and displaced people in cities or further entrench their vulnerabilities and increase their exposure to inequality and climate risks. City leaders need to both safeguard the safety and well-being of those moving, as well as ensure that all urban policies, including environmental ones, are inclusive of migrants and do not exacerbate existing discriminations.

Recognising the resource gap influencing cities’ ability to address challenges and opportunities

Driven by the partnership of C40’s Inclusive Climate Action Programme and the Mayors Migration Council, this initiative recognises a gap in cities’ access to key resources that influences their ability to tackle the challenges and opportunities of addressing climate and migration jointly. With this recognition, the initial phase of the partnership focused on understanding the climate migration nexus and the role of cities and mayors within it: how cities are currently addressing these policy areas and cross-cutting challenges together, and how they can take more ambitious and effective action.

Building on this understanding, the second phase of the partnership will scale up its efforts in supporting mayors to take on critical advocacy initiatives at the local, regional and global level. Such initiatives will lead cities towards unlocking data, funding and governance resources that will support and showcase mayors as the effective leaders they are in preparing and responding to climate-induced migration and in delivering inclusive and equitable climate action for displaced people.

Project partners and supporters

  • The Mayors Migration Council is a mayor-led advisory and advocacy organisation that helps cities shape national and international policy on migration and displacement. Guided by a Leadership Board including the mayors of Amman, Bristol, Freetown, Kampala, Los Angeles, Milan, Montreal, Sao Paulo and the former mayor of Athen, the MMC’s mission is to ensure that global responses to migration and displacement both reflect and address realities on the ground for the benefit of migrants, the displaced, and the communities that receive them.
  • The project is funded by the Open Society Foundations, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and the Robert Bosch Foundation. 

The members of C40-MMC Global Mayors Task Force on Climate and Migration are:
Co-Chair of the Task Force Mayor of Freetown, Sierra Leone, Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr; Co-Chair of the Task Force Mayor of Dhaka North, Bangladesh, Atiqul Islam; Mayor of Barcelona, Spain, Ada Colau; Mayor of Bristol, England, Marvin Rees; Mayor of Dakar, Senegal, Soham El Wardini; Mayor of Houston, United States, Sylvester Turner; Mayor of Lima, Peru, Jorge Muñoz Wells; Mayor of Los Angeles, United States, Eric Garcetti; Mayor of Milan, Italy, Giuseppe Sala.