Peru Faces Challenge of Climate Change-Driven Internal Migration

“We recognize migration due to climate change as a very tangible issue that needs to be addressed,” Pablo Peña, a geographer who is coordinator of the Emergency and Humanitarian Assistance Unit of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Peru, told IPS.

In an interview with IPS at the UN agency’s headquarters in Lima, Peña reported that according to the international Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, the number of people displaced within Peru’s borders by disasters between 2008 and 2022 is estimated at 659,000, most of them floods related to climate disturbances.

In this Andean country of 33 million inhabitants, there is a lack of specific and centralized data to determine the characteristics of migration caused by environmental and climate change factors.

Peña said that through a specific project, the IOM has collaborated with the Peruvian government in drafting an action plan aimed at preventing and addressing climate-related forced migration, on the basis of which a pilot project will begin in October to systematize information from different sources on displacement in order to incorporate the environmental and climate component.

“We aim to be able to define climate migrants and incorporate them into all regulations,” said the expert. The project, which includes gender, rights and intergenerational approaches, is being worked on with the Ministries of the Environment and of Women and Vulnerable Populations.

He added that this type of migration is multidimensional. “People can say that they left their homes in the Andes highlands because they had nothing to eat due to the loss of their crops, and that could be interpreted, superficially, as forming part of economic migration because they have no means of livelihood. But that cause can be associated with climatic variables,” Peña said.

In a 2022 report, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) identified Peru as the country with the highest level of food insecurity in South America.