Migration as adaptation to freshwater and inland hydroclimatic changes? A meta-review of existing evidence

Martina Angela Caretta, Valeria Fanghella, Pam Rittelmeyer, Jaishri Srinivasan, Prajjwal K. Panday, Jagadish Parajuli, Ritu Priya, E. B.Uday Bhaskar Reddy, Cydney Kate Seigerman, Aditi Mukherji

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Due to its potential geo-political and environmental implications, climate migration is an increasing concern to the international community. However, while there is considerable attention devoted to migration in response to sea-level rise, there is a limited understanding of human mobility due to freshwater and inland hydroclimatic changes. Hence, the aim of this paper is to examine the existing evidence on migration as an adaptation strategy due to freshwater and inland hydroclimatic changes. A meta-review of papers published between 2014 and 2019 yielded 67 publications, the majority of which focus on a handful of countries in the Global South. Droughts, floods, extreme heat, and changes in seasonal precipitation patterns were singled out as the most common hazards triggering migration. Importantly, most of the papers discuss mobility as part of a portfolio of responses. Motivations to migrate at the household level range from survival to searching for better economic opportunities. The outcomes of migration are mixed — spanning from higher incomes to difficulties in finding employment after moving and struggles with a higher cost of living. While remittances can be beneficial, migration does not always have a positive outcome for those who are left behind. Furthermore, this meta-review shows that migration, even when desired, is not an option for some of the most vulnerable households. These multifaceted results suggest that, while climate mobility is certainly happening due to freshwater and inland hydroclimatic changes, studies reviewing it are limited and substantial gaps remain in terms of geographical coverage, implementation assessments, and outcomes evaluation. We argue that these gaps need to be filled to inform climate and migration policies that increasingly need to be intertwined rather than shaped in isolation from each other.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100
JournalClimatic Change
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Human Geography

Free keywords

  • Adaptation
  • Climate migration
  • Freshwater and inland hydroclimatic changes
  • Human mobility
  • Meta-review


Dive into the research topics of 'Migration as adaptation to freshwater and inland hydroclimatic changes? A meta-review of existing evidence'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this