BY MATHEW CARR
Sept. 13, 2021 — LONDON: The number of climate migrants is seen plunging 80% should lawmakers urgently put in place policy to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, according to a new World Bank report.
Without policies to aggressively reduce emissions and protect vulnerable people, there may be 216 million climate migrants by 2050, according to the bank’s updated Groundswell report on internal climate migration, which includes projections and analysis for three new regions, namely, East Asia and the Pacific, North Africa, and Eastern Europe and Central Asia. It builds on the novel and pioneering modeling approach of the 2018 Groundswell report, which covered Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Latin America.
Clever policies could reduce the number of migrants to 44 million in the middle of the century instead, said Kanta Kumari Rigaud, Lead Environmental Specialist, World Bank, speaking today at an online media briefing. Migration hotspots are seen emerging by 2030 and then potentially intensifying and spreading.
“The scale of the issue of migration patterns is not predestined, but with the right actions, we could reduce the scale by as much as 80%,” she said. Understanding the scale, the trends and the patterns of climate migration is critical to inform policy, she said.
In Morocco, water scarcity could drive movements of people out of inland areas into coastal urban areas that are already growing, said Viviane Clement, Senior Climate Change Specialist at the bank.
“Things like long-term strategies for water-resource management or adapting climate-sensitive sectors” such as agriculture are examples of policies that are needed, Clement said.
In Vietnam, climate change could drive people into coastal areas that are becoming even more prone to damaging events such as cyclones, she said. In cities in central Asia, governments need to prepare job opportunities for a potential influx of people into urban areas, she said.
Top policy recommendations: Kumari Rigaud
- “We must cut greenhouse gases, immediately, rapidly and at scale”
- Green resilience development. “This becomes the first line of defence against the impacts.”
- Lawmakers need to prepare now for likely future movements of people rather than failing to anticipate them
- Invest in evidence-based research
(UPDATES with press release)
WORLD BANK PRESS RELEASE
Climate Change Could Force 216 Million People to Migrate Within Their Own Countries by 2050
Decisive collective action could reduce climate migration by as much as 80 percent
WASHINGTON, September 13, 2021—The World Bank’s updated Groundswell report released today finds that climate change, an increasingly potent driver of migration, could force 216 million people across six world regions to move within their countries by 2050. Hotspots of internal climate migration could emerge as early as 2030 and continue to spread and intensify by 2050. The report also finds that immediate and concerted action to reduce global emissions, and support green, inclusive, and resilient development, could reduce the scale of climate migration by as much as 80 percent.
Climate change is a powerful driver of internal migration because of its impacts on people’s livelihoods and loss of livability in highly exposed locations. By 2050, Sub-Saharan Africa could see as many as 86 million internal climate migrants; East Asia and the Pacific, 49 million; South Asia, 40 million; North Africa, 19 million; Latin America, 17 million; and Eastern Europe and Central Asia, 5 million.
“The Groundswell report is a stark reminder of the human toll of climate change, particularly on the world’s poorest—those who are contributing the least to its causes. It also clearly lays out a path for countries to address some of the key factors that are causing climate-driven migration,” said Juergen Voegele, Vice President of Sustainable Development, World Bank. “All these issues are fundamentally connected which is why our support to countries is positioned to deliver on climate and development objectives together while building a more sustainable, safe and resilient future.”
The updated report includes projections and analysis for three regions: East Asia and the Pacific, North Africa, and Eastern Europe and Central Asia. It builds on the novel and pioneering modeling approach of the previous World Bank Groundswell report from 2018, which covered Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Latin America.
By deploying a scenario-based approach, the report explores potential future outcomes, which can help decision-makers plan ahead. The approach allows for the identification of internal climate in- and out- migration hotspots, namely the areas from which people are expected to move due to increasing water scarcity, declining crop productivity, and sea-level rise, and urban and rural areas with better conditions to build new livelihoods.
The report provides a series of policy recommendations that can help slow the factors driving climate migration and prepare for expected migration flows, including:
- Reducing global emissions and making every effort to meet the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement.
- Embedding internal climate migration in far-sighted green, resilient, and inclusive development planning.
- Preparing for each phase of migration, so that internal climate migration as an adaptation strategy can result in positive development outcomes.
- Investing in better understanding of the drivers of internal climate migration to inform well-targeted policies.