Migration, Climate Change and Remittances in Central America
Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of International Migration and Mercy Corps, with the support of the Carnegie Foundation, are presently engaged in research on the relationship between climate change, migration and remittances in Central America. Professors Elizabeth Ferris and Katharine Donato are spearheading the initiative on the ISIM side, with support from graduate students, especially Laura Montes and Gulzeyin Khalibaeva.
Migrants have always sent remittances back to their families and these remittances, in fact, dwarf both official development assistance and foreign direct investment. After sudden-onset disasters, remittances increase and are often used to support recovery. This research, however, focuses on whether remittances could be used before a disaster to help families and communities – either to help them weather the disaster or to move to safer locations.
The project has several components, beginning with a Literature Review which synthesizes and analyzes findings from prior studies. This is supplemented by interviews with migrants from Northern Triangle countries to the US. The interviews focus on the reasons Central Americans are leaving their countries as well as on the remittances they send back home.
Secondly we are organizing a series of Round Tables with policy-makers on Central American migration, climate change and remittances.
Thirdly, we will test the potential of remittances in supporting climate resilience through a pilot project. While the economic effects of remittances at both the national and household levels are fairly well understood, including in post-disaster recovery, this phase of the project will explore how they can be used to mitigate climate disaster risk and improve resilience. For example, if remittances can be linked to climate early warnings systems, by which service providers may reduce transfer fees ahead of impending disasters (e.g. droughts, hurricanes) or donors and governments may commit to matching diaspora investments during these critical periods, such efforts may contribute to significant improvements in resilience and disaster risk reduction. Working with a money transfer company, we are developing a prototype for a remittance product/tool that would be specifically geared towards reducing climate-related risks and strengthening resilience.
Literature Review & Interviews
- Climate Change, Migration and Remittances in Central America
- Climate Information and Remittances in Guatemala
- Información Climática y Remesas en Guatemala
- Summary of Interviews conducted in support of the Mercy Corps-ISIM research project on Climate Change, Migration and Remittances in Central America
- Climate change and migration in Central America: Implications for development and humanitarian actors.
- Policy responses to Central American climate migration: a policy roundtable organized by Mercy Corps and Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of International Migration
- How do we know when people move because of environmental hazards/climate change?