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A combined cognitive and spatial model to map and understand climate-induced migration

Induced migration due climate change impacts have gained attention on recent years. SEI team analyzes this connection developing a spatial multi-criteria model that establish people’s motivations to migrate, including climate change factors.

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Cárdenas-Vélez, M., Barrott, J., Betancur Jaramillo, J.C. et al. A combined cognitive and spatial model to map and understand climate-induced migration. Environ Dev Sustain (2023).

Climate change impacts on populations have increased the number of affected people and climate migrants worldwide. Although the nexus between climate change and migration is not monolithic, analyses of individual-level factors at the local scale that reveal the specific drivers of migration are lacking. Here, SEI team shows that people are motivated by individual calculations, prioritizing economic and social factors when deciding to migrate.

Data from 53 structured interviews is used to decompose the assessment of the decision-making process of people deciding to migrate from a region highly vulnerable to climate change, assessing the internal and external migratory potential. The assessment of migration potential evidenced that potential migrants react and make decisions based on perceptions and preferences among economic, social, environmental, and cultural factors when migrating and value these factors differently.

The spatial multi-criteria model developed reports disaggregation in that people prioritize economic factors, such as unemployment, job opportunities, and lack of income, over other migration-related factors, while environmental factors are generally considered underlying. The results demonstrate that migration is not monolithic but a mixture and amalgam of multiple interacting factors, which causes people to migrate or stay in one place despite vulnerability and climate change impacts.

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Open access

SEI authors

Mario Cárdenas

Research Associate

SEI Latin America

Ivonne Lobos Alva

Team Leader: Sustainable Transitions; Senior Expert

SEI Latin America

Profile picture of Julia Barrott
Julia Barrott

Impact and Learning Officer

Global Operations

SEI Oxford

Efraim Hernández

Research Associate

SEI Latin America

Juan Camilo Betancur Jaramillo

Research Assistant

SEI Latin America

Daniela Maestre

Research Assistant

SEI Latin America

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