Policy making on climate change and migration has become a routine agenda point of global climate change politics. In particular, the period between the Cancun climate negotiations of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2010 and the Paris negotiations in 2015 was very important for the emergence of the nexus of climate change and migration as a policy priority. This article conducts a genealogy of policy making on climate change and migration and finds that the period between Cancun and Paris constitutes a distinct era of policy making. This analysis is structured around four areas where shifts have taken place that contribute to delineating this era from others, either through shifts in relation to the eras preceding or succeeding it, or in terms of substantial shifts and dislocations that have taken place during this era. These areas are: (1) the institutional settings for policy making; (2) the actors involved in policy making; (3) the language employed; (4) the mobilisation of knowledge. This analysis is an important undertaking for denaturalising policy making on climate change and migration and promoting understandings of it as contingent, as well as historically, socially, politically, and institutionally situated.
- Global policy being made on climate change and migration is not self-evident, therefore cannot be taken for granted and should be interrogated.
- 2010–2015 (the time period between the Cancun and Paris conferences of the UNFCCC) constitutes a distinct era of policy making on the climate change and migration nexus, where its position on global policy agendas was assured. Post-Paris policy making will necessarily build on this basis.
- Actors outside of the UNFCCC and even outside of the UN family have played important roles in an increasingly organised advocacy effort surrounding climate change and migration. The inclusion of these actors is likely to continue, and they must be considered when looking at policy making processes holistically.
- Global policy making has until now mainly been carried out under the auspices of the UNFCCC. Policy making is likely to continue in this forum post-2015, with a Task Force being established to make recommendations on preventing displacement.
- A new forum for policy making has opened up in 2016, with the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants including climate change as a potential driver of mobility. This opens up a space for inclusion of climate change in the forthcoming global compact on refugees and/or the global compact on safe, orderly and managed migration.