Climate change, migration and vulnerability to trafficking


This webinar discussed a new, groundbreaking report that details the extent and impact of climate change on distress migration and human trafficking.

Last updated 30 May 2022
A group of woman wearing bright clothes and masks huddle under umbrellas, with a flooded river behind.

Women wait for relief distribution in the Lakhimpur district, Assam, India in September 2020. The Kakoi river in the background gets flooded when it rains in the nearby hills, causing floods and severe soil erosion (Photo: Indian Red Cross Society, via Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0)

Climate change is increasing in frequency and intensity adding pressure to an already stressed system, placing the most vulnerable countries and communities at even greater risk of harm.

Faced with devastation, people are forced to migrate in despair within and across borders to protect their lives, escape from hunger, and earn livelihoods - making them vulnerable to human trafficking and slavery.

A new report from IIED, developed in partnership with PHIA Foundation and Aide et action, is among the first to provide an empirical and compelling evidence base on the links between climate change, migration and trafficking, and unpacks the underlying drivers that should be targeted by policymakers to deal with this nexus.

This groundbreaking report provides the extent and impact of climate change on distress migration and human trafficking in two diverse areas impacted by slow onset and rapid onset climatic events. This research was undertaken with funding support from the South Asia Research Hub under the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), UK.

IIED and Anti-Slavery International are exploring how climate-driven migration and displacement puts people at an increased risk of trafficking and slavery.

This new evidence brings the increasingly complex and interrelated nature of climate crises into sharp focus with the view to inform the United Nations climate negotiaions (COP27) and high-level bodies such as the World Bank and the UN on the need to address climate change as a factor of distress migration, displacement and trafficking.

This high-level launch event shared the findings from the report and featured a panel discussion with real-life experiences of how climate impacts are resulting in forced labour, bonded labour, debt bondage and exploitative working conditions.

About the speakers


  • Clare Shakya, director, Climate Change research group, IIED
  • Catherine Turner, head of programmes and advocacy, Anti-Slavery International

Welcome address

  • Sally Taylor, director of development, climate, science and technology, British High Commission, New Delhi

Keynote speakers

  • Siobhán Mullally, UN special rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children 
  • Cecilia Silva Bernardo, climate negotiator for Angola and for the least developed countries


  • Josh Meyer (moderator), domestic security correspondent, USA Today, and member of the advisory board for the Journalism Centre on Global Trafficking
  • Mamta Kohli (opening comments), senior social development advisor, FCDO
  • Ritu Bharadwaj, senior researcher, Climate Change research group, IIED
  • Johnson Topno, regional head of programme, Partnering Hope into Action (PHIA Foundation), India
  • Umi Daniel, director of migration and education, Aide et Action South Asia, India
  • Devanshu Chakravarti, researcher and independent consultant 

Keynote speakers 

  • Daljeet Kaur, climate and environment advisor, FCDO

Next steps and thanks

  • Anirban Ganguly, South Asia Research Hub (SARH) under FCDO

Event coverage

A recording of the event is available below or on IIED's YouTube channel, where viewers are also able to use timestamps to go straight to specific speakers.

IIED events newsletter

Sign up to our mailing list for updates and invitations to events throughout the year, including webinars, critical themes and debriefs.