Marshall Islands Climate & Migration Project

Marshallese Migration: The role of climate change and ecosystem services


Conceptual Framework


Research Questions

This research project will study the multi-causal nature of Marshallese migration and its effects on migrants themselves and communities in source and destination areas. 

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Climate Migration Impact Chain

Central to the conceptual framework is the fact that people do not migrate because of climate change as such, but because of the way climate change affects their livelihoods, food security, and well-being. Often these impacts of climate change on people are mediated through climate impacts on ecosystems and the services these provide.

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The project will conduct a quantitative and qualitative analysis of what has motivated migration from outer islands of RMI to Majuro, the main atoll population center, and from RMI to the state of Hawai‘i and the continental US.

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The research team completed fieldwork in the Marshall Islands, Hawaiʻi, and the continental US using innovative social science methods to assess local perceptions of climate change and migration.

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Mapping Migration Flows. 

The team will use geo-spatial data on migration, at the island level, combined with indicators of climate change and ecosystem services (such as altitude, groundwater, soil, agriculture, salinity, and rainfall) to create thematic maps that depict the links between climatic stressors, ecosystems services, and migration patterns. 


Preliminary Findings

Research Results.


It is hoped that the research conducted can uniquely contribute to understanding how climate variability and change impacts migration and to identifying best practices for managing the consequences of potential climate-induced migration in the Freely Associated states, a topic that has been largely absent from climate discussions in the U.S. context.