Climate change and migration

The World Bank’s publication Groundswell: Preparing for Internal Climate Migration looks at sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Latin America and considers how climate change will force people to move inside their own countries as their livelihoods are undermined.  It concludes that the numbers affected will be in the tens of millions in each region, and that the problem will escalate without “concerted climate and development action”.

I touched on all this in my book Aid Performance and Climate Change, writing that “climate change will inevitably cause the displacement of large numbers of people, from small islands and coastal zones mainly due to sea-level rise, salt intrusion and storm exposure, and within continental systems mainly due to drought and desertification, with flooding, disease, fire, and other hazards adding to the pressures.  Population movements may be involuntary and sudden, or voluntary and slow, but will interact with policies, plans and laws at an increasing rate.  The chaos in Europe resulting from the 2015-2016 mass arrival of desperate people displaced by conflict in south-west Asia draws attention to the need for careful contingency planning and the resourcing of adaptive measures.

“This would apply, for example, to such scenarios as the irreversible flooding of major cities, the creeping emigration of people who abandon life in water-stressed areas, and the failure of entire national economies among small-island developing states and deltaic countries.  The starting point for planning will be different in each case, depending for instance on cultural, geographic, and historical factors (which will affect how easily a group of people can be accommodated in a new setting), and whether a policed national boundary limits the movement of displaced people.  In all cases, while it is tempting to deny the problem and its causes, this response is not viable so coherent and acceptable solutions will need to be prepared for and budgeted.”

There is much here to think about for everyone, everywhere (including Europe).

© Julian Caldecott