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Migration and Climate Change

Migration and Climate
No. 31
The opinions expressed in the report are those of the authors and do not necessarily
reect the views of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The designations
employed and the presentation of material throughout the report do not imply the
expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of IOM concerning the legal status of any
country, territory, city or area, or of its authorities, or concerning its frontiers or boundaries.
IOM is committed to the principle that humane and orderly migration benets migrants
and society. As an intergovernmental organization, IOM acts with its partners in the
international community to: assist in meeting the operational challenges of migration;
advance understanding of migration issues; encourage social and economic development
through migration; and uphold the human dignity and well-being of migrants.
Publisher: International Organization for Migration
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ISSN 1607-338X
© 2008 International Organization for Migration (IOM)
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recording, or otherwise without the prior written permission of the publisher.
Migration and Climate Change1
Prepared for IOM by
Oli Brown2
International Organization for Migration
Abbreviations 5
Acknowledgements 7
Executive Summary 9
1. Introduction 11
A growing crisis 11
200 million climate migrants by 2050? 11
A complex, unpredictable relationship 12
Refugee or migrant? 13
2. Climate Change and Forced Migration 16
Not such a wonderful world 16
Climate processes and climate events 17
Non-climate drivers 18
Population, poverty, and governance are key variables 19
3. Predictions 21
Climate migration is not new 21
Existing patterns of climate migration 21
“Eating the dry season” – temporary labour migration in West Africa 22
The Dust Bowl years 23
The problem of prediction 24
The climate canaries 25
The good, the bad, and the (very) ugly: Climate migrant scenarios 27
The good 27
The bad 28
The ugly 29
4. Development Implications 31
Assessing regional vulnerabilities 31
Forced migration and development 31
 4.1Theurbanood 32
4.2 Hollowed economies 32
 4.3Politicalinstabilityandethnicconict 33
4.4 Health impacts and welfare of forced migrants 34
Climate change migration: A gender perspective 34
5. Policy Responses 36
Heads in the sand 36
 5.1.Expandingthedenitionofa“refugee” 36
The EACH-FOR project 37
5.2 Adaptation in affected countries 38
5.3 Immigration policy in less affected countries 39
Fencing the border 40
6. Conclusions 41
Endnotes 43
Selected References 51
Annex 1 54
1. The Emission Scenarios of the IPCC Special Report on Emission Scenarios
IDP Internally Displaced Person
IOM International Organization for Migration
IPCC Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
LDC Least Developed Country
MDG Millennium Development Goal
OECD Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development
SRES Emission Scenarios of the IPCC Special Report on Emission
UNFCCC United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
UNHCR – TheOfceoftheUnitedNationsHighCommissionerforRefugees
UN-IEHS United Nations Institute for Environment and Human Security
visceral leishmaniasis
Many thanks to Simon Bagshaw, Philippe Boncour, Daniel Coppard, Madeleen
Helmer, Saleemul Huq, Jobst Koehler, Helené Lackenbauer, Frank Laczko, Steve Lon-
ergan, MJ Mace, Ilona Miller, Norman Myers, Damian Ryan, Michael Renner, Mike
See, and Meera Seethi for sharing their time, perspectives and experiences. A special
thanks to Frédéric Gagnon-Lebrun, Debbie Hemming, and Randy McLeman for their
invaluable advice and comments on successive drafts. And warm thanks to Christine
Campeau, Gurneesh Bhandal, and Michelle Chan for their research support.
eXeCUtive sUMMAry
In 1990, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) noted that the
greatest single impact of climate change could be on human migration—with millions
ofpeopledisplaced by shorelineerosion,coastalooding and agriculturaldisrup-
migrants (sometimes called “climate refugees”)—the most widely repeated prediction
being 200 million by 2050.
Butrepetition doesnotmakethegure anymoreaccurate.Whilethescientic
change for human population distribution are unclear and unpredictable. With so
many other social, economic and environmental factors at work establishing a linear,
causative relationship between anthropogenic climate change and migration has, to
This may change in future. The available science, summarized in the latest
assessment report of the IPCC, translates into a simple fact; on current predictions
the “carrying capacity” of large parts of the world will be compromised by climate
The meteorological impact of climate change can be divided into two distinct driv-
ers of migration; climate processes such as sea-level rise, salinization of agricultural
land,deserticationandgrowingwaterscarcity,andclimate eventssuchasooding,
policy, population growth and community-level resilience to natural disaster, are also
important. All contribute to the degree of vulnerability people experience.
The problem is one of time (the speed of change) and scale (the number of people
it will affect). But the simplistic image of a coastal farmer being forced to pack up
and move to a rich country is not typical. On the contrary, as is already the case with
political refugees, it is likely that the burden of providing for climate migrants will be
borne by the poorest countries—those least responsible for emissions of greenhouse
Temporary migration as an adaptive response to climate stress is already apparent in
many areas. But the picture is nuanced; the ability to migrate is a function of mobility
to climate change are not necessarily the ones most likely to migrate.
data, distorted by population growth and reliant on the evolution of climate change as
well as the quantity of future emissions. Nonetheless this paper sets out three broad
scenarios, based on differing emissions forecasts, for what we might expect. These
range from the best case scenario where serious emissions reduction takes place and
a “Marshall Plan” for adaptation is put in place, to the “business as usual” scenario
where the large-scale migration foreseen by the most gloomy analysis comes true,
or is exceeded.
Forced migration hinders development in at least four ways; by increasing pressure
on urban infrastructure and services, by undermining economic growth, by increasing
among migrants themselves.
However, there has been a collective, and rather successful, attempt to ignore the
scale of the problem. Forced climate migrants fall through the cracks of international
refugee and immigration policy—and there is considerable resistance to the idea of
while, large-scale migration is not taken into account in national adaptation strategies
which tend to see migration as a “failure of adaptation”. So far there is no “home” for
1. introDUCtion
A growing crisis
As early as 1990 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) noted
that the greatest single impact of climate change might be on human migration—with
disruption.3 Since then, successive reports have argued that environmental degradation,
and in particular climate change, is poised to become a major driver of population
displacement—a crisis in the making.
In the mid-1990s, it was widely reported that up to 25 million people had been
forced from their homes and off their land by a range of serious environmental pres-
sures including pollution, land degradation, droughts and natural disasters. At the time
it was declared that these “environmental refugees”, as they were called (see Box 1),
exceeded all documented refugees from war and political persecution put together.4
2001 World Disasters Report
of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
repeated the estimate of 25 million current “environmental refugees”. And in October
2005 the UN University’s Institute for Environment and Human Security warned that
the international community should prepare for 50 million environmental refugees
by 2010.5
A few analysts, of whom Norman Myers of Oxford University is perhaps the best
known, have tried to estimate the numbers of people who will be forced to move over
the long term as a direct result of climate change. “When global warming takes hold”
Professor Myers argues, “there could be as many as 200 million people overtaken by
disruptions of monsoon systems and other rainfall regimes, by droughts of unprece-
200 million climate migrants by 2050?
Professor Myers’ estimate of 200 million climate migrants by 2050 has become the
on the Economics of Climate Change.7
This is a daunting gure; representing a ten-fold increase over today’s entire
documented refugee and internally displaced populations.8 To put the number in
perspective it would mean that by 2050 one in every 45 people in the world will have
been displaced by climate change. It would also exceed the current global migrant
population. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) about
192 million people, or 3 per cent of the world’s population, now live outside their
place of birth.9
But this prediction is still very tentative. Professor Myers himself admits that his
estimate, although calculated from the best available data, required some “heroic
extrapolations”.10 Not that any criticism is implied; the simple fact is that nobody
really knows with any certainty what climate change will mean for human popula-
tion distribution. Current estimates range between 25 million and 1 billion people
by 2050.11
A complex, unpredictable relationship
mous amount of time and energy have gone into determining the meteorological
impacts of climate change in terms of raised sea levels, altered precipitation patterns
have been spent on empirical analysis of the impacts of climate change on human
Partly, this is because the relationship is so unpredictable: the science of climate
change is complex enough – let alone its impact on societies of differing resources and
varied capacity to adapt to external shocks. Partly, it is because individual migrants’
decisions to leave their homes vary so widely: deciding causality between economic
the role of climate change from other environmental, economic and social factors
requires an ambitious analytical step into the dark.
For example, Hurricane Katrina, which lashed the Gulf Coast of the United States
in August 2005 and temporarily displaced over a million people,12 is often presented
(quite rightly) as a preview of the kind of more intense and frequent extreme weather
events we can expect from climate change. But the hurricane was more than just a
meteorological event: the damage it caused was a product of poor disaster planning,
consistent underinvestment in the city’s protective levees as well the systematic
destruction of the wetlands in the Mississippi delta that might have lessened the force
ofthestorm. Labellingita “climate changeevent”over-simplies bothitscauses
and its effects.
Nevertheless, estimates of future numbers of climate change migrants are repeated
almostglibly,eitherforshockvalueorforwantofabettergure.13 This paper sets out
to challenge the predictions: by trying to pick apart the terminology, the time frame
and the degree of uncertainty implicit in them.
Section 2 looks at the ways that climate change might lead to increased migration.
Section 3 then analyses some predictions for numbers of future climate migrants,
examines some of the uncertainties with these predictions and lays out three different
tentative scenarios on future numbers of migrants. Which (if any) of these comes to
pass depends on future population growth, distribution and resilience to environmental
pressures as well as the ability of the international community to curb greenhouse
gas emissions and help the poorest countries adapt to the impacts of climate change.
Section 4 assesses the development implications of forced migration within coun-
tries and across borders. Finally, Section 5 investigates a variety of international and
domestic policy responses to the prospect of large-scale population movements caused
by climate change.
Labels are important. One immediately contentious issue is whether people
displacedbyclimatechangeshouldbedenedas“climate refugees” or as
“climate migrants”.Thisisnotjustsemantics—whichdenitionbecomes
generally accepted will have very real implications for the obligations of the
international community under international law.
Campaigners have long used the phrase “environmental refugee” or
“climate refugee” to convey added urgency to the issue. They argue that,
in the most literal sense of the words, such people need to “seek refuge”
from the impacts of climate change. Any other terminology, they maintain,
would downplay the seriousness of these people’s situation. Moreover, the
word “refugee” resonates with the general public who can sympathize with
the implied sense of duress. It also carries fewer negative connotations than
“migrant” which tends to imply a voluntary move towards a more attractive
However,theuseofthe word“refugee”to describethoseeeingfrom
environmental pressures is not strictly accurate under international law. The
United Nations’ 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol relating to the status of
tion: “a refugee is a person who owing to a well-founded fear of being per-
secuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular
social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality,
and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the
protection of that country”.14
There are other problems with using the term “refugee”. Strictly speaking,
categorization as a refugee is reliant on crossing an internationally recognized
border: someone displaced within their own country is an “internally displaced
person” (IDP). Given that the majority of people displaced by climate change
willlikely staywithin theirownborders,restrictingthedenitiontothose
who cross international borders may seriously understate the extent of the
problem. Second, the concept of a “refugee” tends to imply a right of return
course, impossible in the case of sea level rise and so again the term distorts
the nature of the problem. Third, there is the concern that expanding the def-
inition of a refugee from political persecution to encompass environmental
stressors would dilute the available international mechanisms and goodwill
to cater for existing refugees.
Thequestionof denitionmakesfora hotlycontesteddebate amongst
international human rights lawyers.15 However, in practice there is consider-
able resistance among the international community to any expansion of the
refugee would compel them to offer the same protections as political refu-
gees; a precedent that no country has yet been willing to set.16 Meanwhile,
the international institutions currently charged with providing for refugees,
(UNHCR), are already overstretched and are unable to cope with their cur-
rent “stock” of refugees.17 The UNHCR itself is taking on an expanded role
in the provision of care to IDPs and so is resistant to any further expansion
of its mandate.18,19
If the term “climate refugee” is problematic it is still used, in part, for
lack of a good alternative. “Climate evacuee” implies temporary movement
within national borders (as was the case with Hurricane Katrina). “Climate
migrant” implies the “pull” of the destination more than the “push” of the
source country and carries negative connotations which reduce the implied
responsibility of the international community for their welfare.
are almost invisible in the international system: no institution is responsible
for collecting data on their numbers, let alone providing them with basic
services. Unable to prove political persecution in their country of origin they
fall through the cracks in asylum law.
How then should we categorize these people? The International Organiza-
migrants are persons or groups of persons, who, for compelling reasons of
sudden or progressive changes in the environment that adversely affect their
lives or living conditions, are obliged to leave their habitual homes, or chose
to do so, either temporarily or permanently, and who move either within their
country or abroad”.20
This study mostly uses the term “forced climate migrant” in the know-
ledge that it is not a universally accepted term but in the hope that it conveys
a reasonably accurate impression of the increasing phenomenon of non-
voluntary population displacement likely as the impacts of climate change
grow and accumulate.
2. CLiMAte ChAnGe AnD forCeD MiGrAtion
Not such a wonderful world
Put simply, climate change will cause population movements by making certain
parts of the world much less viable places to live; by causing food and water supplies
storms. Recent reports from the IPCC and elsewhere set out the parameters for what
we can expect:
By 2099 the world is expected to be on average between 1.8ºC and 4ºC hotter
than it is now.21 Large areas are expected to become drier—the proportion of land
in constant drought expected to increase from 2 per cent to 10 per cent by 2050.22
Meanwhile, the proportion of land suffering extreme drought is predicted to increase
from 1 per cent at present to 30 per cent by the end of the 21st century.23 Rainfall
patterns will change as the hydrological cycle becomes more intense. In some places
this means that rain will be more likely to fall in deluges (washing away top-soil and
Changed rainfall patterns and a more intense hydrological cycle mean that
extreme weather eventssuchasdroughts,stormsandoodsareexpectedtobecome
increasingly frequent and severe.24 For example, it is estimated that the South Asian
monsoon will become stronger with up to 20 per cent more rain falling on eastern
India and Bangladesh by 2050.25 Conversely, less rain is expected at low to mid-lati-
tudes; by 2050 sub-Saharan Africa is predicted to have up to 10 per cent less annual
rainfall in its interior.26
Less rain would have particularly serious impacts for sub-Saharan African agri-
culture which is largely rain-fed: the 2007 IPCC report of the Second Working Group
estimates that yields from rain-fed agriculture could fall by up to 50 per cent by 2020.27
“Agricultural production, including access to food, in many African countries and
regions is projected to be severely compromised by climate variability and change”
the report notes.28
According to the same report crop yields in central and south Asia could fall by
30 per cent by the middle of the 21st century.29 Some sh stocks will migrate towards
the poles and colder waters and may deplete as surface water run-off and higher sea
temperatures lead to more frequent hazardous algal blooms and coral bleaching.30
Compounding this, climate change is predicted to worsen a variety of health problems
leading to more widespread malnutrition and diarrhoeal diseases, and altered distribu-
tion of some vectors of disease transmission such as the malarial mosquito.31
Meanwhile, melting glaciers will increase the risk of ooding during the wet
season and reduce dry-season water supplies to one-sixth of the world’s population,
predominantly in the Indian sub-continent, parts of China and the Andes.32 Melting
glaciers will increase the risk of glacial lake outburst oods particularly in moun-
tainous countries like Nepal, Peru and Bhutan.
Global average sea level, after accounting for coastal land uplift and subsidence, is
projected to rise between 8 cm and 13 cm by 2030, between 17 cm and 29 cm by 2050,
and between 35 cm and 82 cm by 2100 (depending on the model and scenario used).33
Large delta systems are at particular risk of ooding.34 The area of coastal wetlands
is projected to decrease as a result of sea level rise. For a high emissions scenario and
high climate sensitivity wetland loss could be as high as 25 per cent and 42 per cent
of the world’s existing coastal wetlands by the 2050s and 2100s respectively.35
According to Nicholls and Lowe (2004), using a mid-range climate sensitivity
projection, the number of people ooded per year is expected to increase by between
10 and 25 million per year by the 2050s and between 40 and 140 million per year by
2100s, depending on the future emissions scenario.36
The avalanche of statistics above translates into a simple fact—that on
current trends the “carrying capacity” of large parts of the world, i.e. the
ability of different ecosystems to provide food, water and shelter for human
populations, will be compromised by climate change.
Climate processes and climate events
Robert McLeman of the University of Ottawa, unpacks the drivers of forced migra-
tion into two distinct groups.37 First, there are the climate drivers. These themselves
are of two types – climate processes and climate events. Climate processes are slow-
growing water scarcity and food insecurity. Sea level rise patently makes certain coastal
areas and small island states uninhabitable. Cumulatively they erode livelihoods and
change the incentives to “stick it out” in a particular location. Some women in the
Sahel, for example, already have to walk up to 25 kilometres a day to fetch water. If
their journey gets longer they will simply have to move permanently.38
On a national level sea level rise could have serious implications for food security
and economic growth. This is a particular concern in countries that have a large part
of their industrial capacity under the “one metre” zone. Bangladesh’s Gangetic plain
and the Nile Delta in Egypt, which are breadbaskets for both countries, are two such
examples. Egypt’s Nile Delta is one of the most densely populated areas of the world
and is extremely vulnerable to sea level rise. A rise of just 1 metre would displace at
least6millionpeopleandood4,500km2 of farmland.39
Climate events, on the other hand, are sudden and dramatic hazards such as mon-
soon oods, glacial lake outburst oods, storms, hurricanes and typhoons. These
force people off their land much more quickly and dramatically. Hurricanes Katrina
and Rita, for example, which lashed the Gulf Coast of the United States in August
and September 2005 left an estimated 2 million people homeless.40 The
2000 World
Disasters Report
estimated that 256 million people were affected by disasters (both
weather-related and geo-physical) in the year 2000, up from an average of 211 mil-
lion per year during the 1990s – an increase the Red Cross attributes to increased
“hydro-meteorological” events.41
Non-climate drivers
Equally important though are the non-climate drivers. It is clear that many natural
disasters are, at least in part, “man-made”. A natural hazard (such as an approaching
storm) only becomes a “natural disaster” if a community is particularly vulnerable to
its impacts. A tropical typhoon, for example, becomes a disaster if there is no early-
warning system, the houses are poorly built and people are unaware of what to do in
the event of a storm. A community’s vulnerability, then, is a function of its exposure
to climatic conditions (such as a coastal location) and the community’s adaptive
capacity (the capacity of a particular community to weather the worst of the storm
and recover after it).
Different regions, countries and communities have very different adaptive capaci-
ties: pastoralist groups in the Sahel, for example, are socially, culturally and technic-
ally equipped to deal with a different range of natural hazards than, say, mountain
dwellers in the Himalayas.42 National and individual wealth is one clear determinant
of vulnerability enabling better disaster risk reduction, disaster education and
speedier responses. In the decade from 1994 to 2003 natural disasters in countries of
high human development killed an average of 44 people per event, while disasters in
countries of low human development killed an average of 300 people each.43
On a national scale, Bangladesh has very different adaptive capacities and
disaster resilience to the United States. In April 1991 Tropical Cyclone Gorky hit the
Chittagong district of south-eastern Bangladesh. Winds of up to 260 kilometres per
hour and a six-metre high storm surge battered much of the country killing at least
138,000 people and leaving as many as 10 million people homeless.44 The following
year in August 1992, a strongerstorm,thecategoryveHurricaneAndrew,hitFlorida
and Louisiana with winds of 280 kilometres per hour and a 5.2-metre storm surge.
But, while it left US$ 43 billion in damages in its wake, it caused only 65 deaths.45
Climate change will challenge the adaptive capacities of many different communi-
ties, and overwhelm some, by interacting with and exacerbating existing problems of
food security, water scarcity and the scant protection afforded by marginal lands. At
some point that land becomes no longer capable of sustaining livelihoods and people
will be forced to migrate to areas that present better opportunities. The “tipping
points” will vary from place to place and from individual to individual. Natural
disasters might displace large numbers of people for relatively short periods of time,
but the slow-onset drivers are likely to displace permanently many more people in
a less-headline grabbing way.
Population, poverty, and governance are key variables
Migration, even forced migration, is not usually just a product of an environmental
“push” from a climate process like sea level rise. Except in cases of climate events,
social or economic. There has to be the hope of a better life elsewhere, however much
of a gamble it might be. Past environmental migratory movements, such as in the US
Dust Bowl years in the 1930s (see Box 3), suggest that being able to migrate away
from severe climatic conditions, in this case prolonged drought, requires would-be
in the destination area and the funds to be able to move. 46
It also should be mentioned, and this is absent from much of the campaigning
literature, that climate change will make some places better able to sustain larger
ture rises, i.e. 2 to 3ºC over the 21st century rather than rise of 4 to 5 degrees or more.
This is for three main reasons. First, higher temperatures will likely extend growing
seasons and reduce frost risk in mid to high-latitude areas such as Europe, Australia
and New Zealand and make new crops viable (already vineyards are spreading north in
Britain).47 Second, the “fertilization effect” of more CO2 in the atmosphere is predicted
to increase crop yields and the density of vegetation in some areas.48 And third, altered
rainfall patterns mean that rain might increase in areas previously suffering water stress.
A 2005 study, for example, predicts that a warmer north Atlantic and hotter Sahara
will trigger more rain for the Sahel.49 It is not inconceivable then that there might be
migration in order to take advantage of the effects of climate change.
In other words, climate change might provide both “push” and “pull” for some
population displacement. This is not to downplay the seriousness of climate change:
above 4 or 5ºC the predicted impacts of climate change become almost universally
negative.50 But it is to make that point that the role of climate change in population
displacement is not a linear relationship of cause and effect, of environmental “push”
and economic “pull”.
Non-climatic drivers remain a key variable. It is, after all, population growth, in-
come distribution and government policy that push people to live on marginal lands
intherst place.Inother wordsacommunity’svulnerabilitytoclimate changeis
not a constant – it can be increased or decreased for reasons that have nothing to do
with greenhouse gas emissions.51 In this sense it is the non-climatic drivers (that put
vulnerable people in marginal situations) that can be as important a determinant of
the problem as the strength of the “climate signal” itself.
As Steve Lonergan of the University of Victoria, Canada, noted in 1998, “there
is too often an uncritical acceptance of a direct causal link between environmental
degradation and population displacement. Implicit in these writings is the belief that
environmental degradation—as a possible cause of population displacement—can
be separated from other social, economic or political causes. It must be recognized
that the degradation of the environment is socially and spatially constructed; only
through a structural understanding of the environment in the broader political and
cultural context of a region or country can one begin to understand the “role” it plays
as a factor in population movement”.52
Intuitively we can see how climate change might play a role in future movements
plex. And it is hard to persuade decision makers to take the issue seriously without
3. PreDiCtions
“Prediction is very difcult, especially about the future.”
Niels Bohr, Danish physicist (1885-1962)
Climate migration is not new
Archaeological evidence suggests that human settlement patterns have responded
repeatedly to changes in the climate.53,54 There is evidence that the emergence of the
desiccation. The complex societies of Egypt and Mesopotamia, for example, emerged
as people migrated away from desiccating rangelands and into riverine areas. The
resulting need to organize densely packed populations in order to manage scarce re-
Much later, during the 4th century CE, growing aridity and frigid temperatures from
a prolonged cold snap caused the Hun and German hordes to surge across the Volga
and Rhine into milder Gaul and eventually led to the sack of Rome by the Visigoths.
Likewise, the 8th century Muslim expansion into the Mediterranean and southern
Europe was, to some extent, driven by drought in the Middle East.56
Existing patterns of climate migration
Migration is (and always has been) an important mechanism to deal with climate
stress. Pastoralist societies have of course habitually migrated, with their animals, from
water source to grazing lands in response to drought as well as part of their normal
mode of life. But it is becoming apparent that migration as a response to environmental
change is not limited to nomadic societies.
In western Sudan, for example, studies have shown that one adaptive response
labour to tide the family over until after the drought.57 Temporary migration in times
of climate stress can help top-up a family’s income (through remittances from paid
work elsewhere) and reduce the draw on local resources (fewer mouths to feed).
When climate stresses coincide with economic or social stresses, the potential for
West Africa, the distance that people migrate is a function of their family’s resources;
work in local cities (see Box 2). Known locally as “eating the dry season” it occurs
today in many parts of drought-stricken West Africa.
In the West African Sahel recent studies have cast light on the use of tem-
porary migration as an adaptive mechanism to climate change. The region has
suffered a prolonged drought for much of the past three decades and one way
that households have adapted is by sending their young men and women in
search of wage labour after each harvest.58 But how far they travel depends,
in part, on the success of the harvest.
to Europe in search of work. While the potential rewards in terms of remit-
tances are high, it is a highly speculative gamble – in addition to dangerous
journey, the rewards are uncertain. In addition the chances are the migrant
will not be back in time for the next year’s planting.
But in a drought year, when harvests are poor, the young men and women
tend to stay much closer to home, instead travelling to nearby cities for paid
work so as to reduce the drain on the household’s food reserves and top-up
household income. In such years the risk of losing the “migration gamble”
is simply too great.59
Years in the US, migrants from the Great Plains tended to be tenant farmers without
strongancestralornancialtiestotheland(seeBox3).60 The decision to migrate is
normally taken at a household level (unless the state is clearing an area) – and relies
to meet their immediate needs and often when their communities or governments have
proven incapable of giving assistance.
Migration, especially when it is a response to slower-acting climate processes
(rather than a sudden climatic event like a hurricane), typically requires access to
money, family networks and contacts in the destination country. Even in the most
extreme, unanticipated natural disasters – migrants, if they have any choice, tend to
travel along pre-existing paths – to places where they have family, support networks,
homes within the boundaries of their own countries. Evacuees from Hurricanes Rita
and Katrina, for example, did not stream across the border to Mexico but typically
found temporary refugee with family members elsewhere in the country.61
During the 1930s, multiple years of below-average rainfall and above-
average temperatures in the Great Plains of the United States coincided with
a nation wide economic slump (the Great Depression) and resulted in the
widespread failure of small farms, particularly those on marginal lands. It is
believed that up to 300,000 “Okies” left the region during the “Dust Bowl”
decade– many of them migrating to California.62
Migrants to California from the Great Plains mostly consisted of intact
nuclear families of above-average education, from a range of occupational
backgrounds, and who had extended family support waiting for them in
California. They also tended to be tenant farmers without the same ancestral
investment in their land as the landowners who were more likely to stay
The clichéd image of a coastal farmer getting inundated by rising sea levels and
being forced to pack up and move to a rich country is simply not born out by ex-
perience. The 2004 Asian Tsunami, for example, killed more than 200,000 people
and displaced twice as many. But those people were largely not displaced to OECD
countries. Instead the burden of displacement (and of providing for evacuees) is
overwhelmingly born by the local region.
to seek refuge in places where they have existing cultural or ethnic ties. So Bangla-
deshis might seek refuge in India or Pakistan, Indonesians from Sumatra would look
to Malaysia and so on.64 Likewise, inter-continental migration is most likely to follow
pre-existing paths and old colonial relationships. So the United Kingdom might be an
obvious destination for Pakistanis and West Indians, France for would-be migrants
from Francophone West Africa and Australia and New Zealand for some groups in
In short, people have had to move for environmental reasons for thousands of years.
But recent examples provide useful, albeit sobering, analogues for the likely impact
theworstooding inlivingmemory,inundatingtwo-thirds ofthecountry fortwo
months, devastating its infrastructure and agricultural base and leading to fears about
the country’s long-term future in a world of higher ocean levels and more intense
cyclones.65Theoodsleftanestimated21millionpeoplehomeless.66 Meanwhile the
and triggered the largest ever peace-time deployment of the People’s Liberation Army
to provide humanitarian aid and rebuild critical infrastructure.67 However, it is one
The problem of prediction
Although meteorological science and climate modelling techniques have progressed
dramatically over the past decade, we still cannot accurately predict the impact of
climate change on our weather systems. Amongst much else there is uncertainty
about the way rainfall patterns will change and continuing debate on whether global
on establishing the biophysical extent and nature of anthropogenic climate change.
Less time and energy have gone into predicting the impact of future climate change
on human societies in any more than the most general terms. The complex interactions
between different meteorological and social factors make cause and effect models
to date are little more than well-educated guesswork. Developing more solid predic-
tions will require a lot of hard number-crunching that is only really starting now.69
These predictions are complicated by three factors:
First, forced climate migration will take place against a background of
unprecedented changes in the number and distribution of the world’s population.
The global population is currently growing at a rate of 1.1 per cent and is
predicted to reach 9.075 billion by 2050 (from its 2005 level of 6.54 billion).
Meanwhile, there is an accelerating move to urban areas. Already 49 per cent of
the world’s population live in cities, and the growth rate of the urban population
is nearly double (2%) that of total population growth.70
These trends are especially pronounced in low and middle-income countries.
Between 2005 and 2010 Burundi, for example, is expected to have a
population growth rate of 3.7 per cent and an urban growth rate of 6.8 per
cent.71 Meanwhile, the Sahelian region of northern Nigeria, perhaps the area
of the country most susceptible to climate change, is already characterized
by high population growth (about 3.1%) and rapid urbanization (about 7%).72
Clearly it would be absurd to attribute the entire urban drift to climate change,
but disaggregating what role climate change might play in added rural-urban
migration is speculative.
• Second,wehavenorealbase-linegureforcurrentmigratorymovements.Nor
is there much capacity in developing countries or the international community
to gather this sort of data, particularly for internal migration. What limited
capacity exists is focused on tracking cross-border migration. Given that a
majority of forced climate migrants will stay within their own borders (see
page 22) the machinery to collect data on these movements simply does not
yet exist. Recent initiatives such as the EACH-FOR project of the European
Commission are only now beginning to try to address this statistical gap (see
Box 5).
Third, what happens in the second half of the 21st century depends to a great
extent on what we do today. Until 2050 the degree of inertia in the climate
system means that climate change over the next 50 years is largely pre-
determined.73 However, the extent and nature of climate change after then is
reliant on current emissions. Consequently, many analysts think that it is highly
speculative to try to push predictions past 2050.74
The climate canaries
Nonetheless, there has been a somewhat breathless competition in the world’s
canary, will mark the beginning of a period of irreversible climate impacts. Four cases
have been quite extensively highlighted in the past few years: the Cartaret islands
in Papua New Guinea, the residents of Lateu village in Vanuatu, the relocation of
Shishmaref village on Sarichef island in Alaska, and the submergence of Lohachara
island in India’s Hooghly river.
In2005itwas ofciallydecided toevacuate the1,000 residentsoftheCarteret
Islands, a group of small and low-lying coral atolls administered by Papua New
Guinea. Storm-related erosion and salt water intrusion had rendered the population
almost entirely dependent on outside aid. Ten families at a time are now being moved
to the larger island of Bougainville, 100 kilometres away.75
A second group of about a hundred residents of Lateu, on the island of Tegua on
Vanuatu, were relocated farther inland, again following storm-damage, erosion and
salt damage to their original village. In both cases, the declaration of their status as
“therstclimatechangerefugees” wastimedto coincidewiththe UnitedNations
Climate Convention meeting in November 2005.76
Shishmaref village lies on Sarichef island just north of the Bering strait. A combi-
nation of melting permafrost and sea-shore erosion at a rate of up to 3.3 metres a year
have forced the inhabitants to relocate their village several kilometres to the south.77
It is thought that climate change has directly exacerbated the sea-erosion by thinning
the sea ice which used to reduce the force of local tides and erosive currents.
inhabited island due to climate change. Researchers reported that Lohachara island
ishing islands in the delta, the loss of the islands and other coastal land in the delta
has left thousands of people homeless. 78
consensusthat thesefourcasesaredenitivelytheresultofanthropogenicclimate
change. Fred Terry, director of the UNDP’s programme in Bougainville argues that in
offered by the reef, whilst natural subsidence and tectonic movement might also explain
the islands’ inundation. In fact plans to evacuate the residents have been discussed
since the early 1980s, but were interrupted by the war on the neighbouring Papua
New Guinean island of Bougainville.79 Likewise, Lohachara island, a sandbar in the
Hooghly delta (and so inherently unstable), was eroded by river currents, weakened
by mangrove destruction, and submerged by tectonic titling and local subsidence.80
So far the publicized examples of forced migration caused by anthropogenic
climate change are more anecdotal than empirical, affecting a few hundred or thou-
sand people at a time. The urge to grab the headlines has tended to obscure the fact
thousands of years. But while the evidence for a distinctively anthropogenic “climate
change signal” in forced migration so far is circumstantial, it is mounting. And with
all available scenarios predicting accelerating climate change impacting growing
populations and more people living on marginal land, forced climate migration is
certain to increase. The important questions are; by how much? and with what im-
plications for development?
The good, the bad, and the (very) ugly: Climate migrant scenarios
The impact of climate change as a driver of future forced migration depends on
several factors:
the quantity of future greenhouse gas emissions;
the rate of future population growth and distribution;
the meteorological evolution of climate change;
the effectiveness of local and national adaptation strategies.
The IPCC has devised a series of scenarios, called the Emission Scenarios of
the IPCC Special Report on Emission Scenarios (or SRES for short), which set out
a range of different future emissions scenarios varied according to demographic,
technological and economic developments. There are six basic “storylines”; each
of which aggregates different rates of population and economic growth as well as
the future “energy mix”. For reference, these storylines are described in Annex 1.
They range from the most-greenhouse gas intensive (A1F1 – where energy is mostly
derived from fossil fuels and economic growth is rapid) to the less-intensive B1 sto-
ryline (where the world economy moves towards less-resource intensity and cleaner
technology). All the scenarios assume no additional climate change initiatives such
as the emissions targets under the Kyoto Protocol. Three of the SRES scenarios are
used here as starting points to imagine three highly speculative scenarios for future
climate-induced migration.81
The good
likelihood. The B1 storyline describes a world whose population peaks mid-century
around 9 billion and declines thereafter towards 7 billion. There is a rapid change in
economic structures towards a service and information economy with a reduction in
“The emphasis is on global solutions to economic, social and environmental sustain-
ability, including improved equity, but without additional climate initiatives”.82
In addition (and this is where this scenario diverges from the B1 storyline) we can
imagine that a serious post 2012 regime is put in place by the international community
to reduce carbon emissions. The BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China)
join as full members and work to cut their own emissions. Atmospheric concentra-
tions of CO2 stabilize around 600 ppm by end of century leading to temperature rise
over the century of around 1.8 degrees and sea level rise of from 18 to 38 cm.83 In
addition a “Marshall plan” for adaptation helps countries deal with the worst impacts
of climate change.
Nonetheless, according to the Stern report, such a temperature rise would still lead
to a 20 to 30 per cent decrease in water availability in some vulnerable regions such
as Southern Africa and the Mediterranean countries. It would also result in declining
crop yields in tropical regions. In Africa crop yields could be cut by between 5 to
10 per cent.84 Meanwhile up to 10 million more people would be affected by coastal
Inthiscase theheadlinegurefor climatemigration(the 200million“climate
refugees” by 2050) might, in hindsight, seem like an exaggeration. Instead we could
expect increased migration of between 5 and 10 per cent along existing routes (see
page 21). There would be increased rural to urban migration but it would prove largely
manageable, if not indistinguishable, within existing patterns of migration.
The bad
Our second scenario uses the “A1B” storyline as its starting point. A1B envisages a
world of very rapid economic growth, with a global population that peaks mid-century
gies. The scenario predicts economic convergence among regions, increased social and
cultural interactions and a substantial reduction in regional differences in per capita
income. In this scenario the world’s energy is sourced from a balance between fossil
intensive and non-fossil energy sources.86 We can imagine that international efforts to
reduce greenhouse gas emissions are delayed, patchy and not particularly effective.
Some effort and funds are invested into adaptation, but not enough.
The estimate for temperature rise over the 21st century for the A1B storyline is
2.4ºC (with a likely range from 1.7ºC to 4.4ºC). Atmospheric concentrations of CO2
by the end of the century are 850 ppm (three times pre-industrial levels).87 With higher
temperatures the practical implications of climate change are much greater. Under
this scenario sea level rise would be between 21 cm and 48 cm and precipitation in
sub-tropical areas would fall by up to 20 per cent.88 According to the Stern report,
a 3ºC temperature rise would mean 1 to 4 billion people would suffer water short-
ages and between 150 to 550 additional million people would be at risk of hunger.
between 11 and 170 million additional people each year.89 Marginal lands would
become increasingly uninhabitable, with dramatic increases in internal rural to ur-
ban migration and also emigration to richer countries, particularly of young, skilled
people. Meanwhile, millions of people would be temporarily displaced by individual
extreme weather events.
The ugly
The third scenario uses the A1F1 storyline as its starting point. A1F1 is similar
to A1B in that it forecasts rapid economic growth and a global population that peaks
mid-century and falls thereafter. However, unlike A1B, energy in the A1F1 world
continues to be overwhelmingly sourced from fossil-fuel supplies – and is a “busi-
ness as usual scenario” without any Kyoto emission reductions or serious attempts at
adaptation.90 On this trend, atmospheric concentration of CO2 by 2099 will be 1,550
Such CO2 levels would result in a temperature rise over the century of 4.0ºC (with
a likely range from 2.4ºC to 6.4ºC) and sea level rise from 29 cm to 59 cm.91 Accord-
ing to the Stern report a temperature rise of 4.0ºC would result in a 30 to 50 per cent
decrease in water availability in Southern Africa and Mediterranean. Agricultural
yields would decline by 15 to 35 per cent in Africa and entire regions, such as parts
of Australia, would fall out of production.92 With high climate sensitivity, the number
ofpeople oodedperyearcouldbe asmanyas160millionbythe 2050sand420
million by the 2100s.93
Under this scenario, predictions of 200 million people displaced by climate change
might easily be exceeded. Large areas of southern China, South Asia, and the Sahe-
lian region of sub-Saharan Africa could become uninhabitable on a permanent basis.
Climate forced migration would be unmistakeable with tens of millions of people at
The above scenarios all assume a roughly linear evolution of climate change.
But the picture would change again in the case of abrupt climate change such as the
collapse of the Gulf Stream or melting of the Greenland or Antarctic ice sheets. The
IPCC estimates that the elimination of the Greenland ice sheet would lead to a con-
tribution to a sea level rise of about 7 m.94 The Stern report estimated that the melting
or collapse of the ice sheets would raise sea levels and eventually threaten 4 million
km² of land which is currently home to 5 per cent (around 310 million people) of the
world’s population.95
4. DeveLoPMent iMPLiCAtions
There is irony in the fact that it is the developing countries—the least responsible
for emissions of greenhouse gases—will be the most affected by climate change. If the
situation with refugees from war and political persecution is any indication they will
also bear the greatest burden of providing for forced climate migrants. For example,
in2000, the20countrieswiththehighestratios ofofcialrefugeeshadanannual
per-capita income of just US$ 850.96
Assessing regional vulnerabilities
Numerically and geographically, South and East Asia are particularly vulnerable
to large-scale forced migration. This is because sea level rise will have a dispropor-
tionate effect on their large populations living in low-lying areas. Six of Asia’s ten
mega-cities are located on the coast (Jakarta, Shanghai, Tokyo, Manila, Bangkok and
Mumbai).97 China, meanwhile, has 41 per cent of its population, 60 per cent of its
wealth and 70 per cent of its megacities in coastal areas.98
Millions more are vulnerable in Africa, particularly around the Nile Delta and
along the west coast of Africa. Changed patterns of rainfall would have particularly
serious impacts for food security in sub-Saharan Africa. According to the latest IPCC
report reduced rainfall could lower crop yields by as much as 20 per cent by 2020,
leading to increased malnutrition.99
Small island states around the world are particularly vulnerable to sea level rise
because in many cases (the Bahamas, Kiribati, the Maldives and the Marshall Islands)
much of their land is less than three or four metres above present sea level.100 One
1999analysisestimated that, by 2080,oodriskfor people livinginsmallisland
states will be 200 times greater than if there had been no global warming.101 Other
island states tend to have high levels of development and high density population
around their coasts. Half the population of the Caribbean, for example, lives within
1.5 km of the shoreline.102
Forced migration and development
Over the short term, climate change forced migration will make the Millennium
Development Goals (MDGs) harder to achieve.103 Over the long term, large-scale
climate change migration could roll back much of the progress that has been made so
far. Particularly threatened is the uninterrupted provision of the education and health
services that underlie goals 2 (universal primary education) and goals 4 and 5 (reducing
child and maternal mortality and combating HIV/Aids, malaria and other diseases).
Forced migration hinders development in at least four ways; by increasing pressure
on urban infrastructure and services, undermining economic growth, increasing the
migrants themselves.
What impact climate change migration ultimately has on development depends,
of course, on which of the above storylines (page 26) plays out: it is clear that 200
million people displaced by climate change would be much more detrimental to
development than 10 million. There is also a large difference in development out-
comes between those displaced by long-term climate processes (sea level rise) and
mask this distinction.
4.1 The urban ood
Increasing food and water scarcity due to climate change in rural areas will
accelerate the dramatic rural-urban drift in the developing world. Urban areas offer
access to the cash economy (rather than subsistence farming) and can make it easier
to provide services. However, rapid and unplanned urbanization has serious implica-
tions for urban welfare and urban service provision.
Already, one-third of the world’s urban population, about 1 billion people, live
in slums: in poor quality housing with limited clean water, sanitation and education
services.104 By 2030 it is estimated that this number will rise to 1.7 billion people.105
High population densities and high contact rates help to spread disease, while health
and education services are often inadequate. In India, for example, unplanned urban-
ization has been associated with the spread of dengue fever.106
4.2 Hollowed economies
Mass migration disrupts production systems and undermines domestic markets. In
addition, the loss of “human capital” in the form of the labour force and investment
in education undermines economic growth. This can establish a self-reinforcing of
limited economic opportunity that contributes to future migration.
The “brain drain” effect from developing countries is already a serious problem.
were young, skilled families with some money and strong social networks – the very
kind of people that are essential components of successful communities. “The places
they left behind”, says Ottawa University’s Robert McLeman, “became increasingly
ward spiral from which some communities never recovered. Future climate-migration
holds a similar potential to have negative long-term consequences for socio-economic
stability in affected areas”.107 Climate change could accelerate the brain drain as it
move away.
4.3 Political instability and ethnic conict
Large-scale population displacement will redraw the ethnic map of many countries,
bringing previously separate groups into close proximity with each other and in com-
petition for the same resources. In the context of poor governance, poverty and easy
access to small arms these situations can easily turn violent. In Nigeria, 3,500 square
kilometres (1,350 square miles) of land are turning into desert every year, making
deserticationthecountry’sleadingproblem.As the desertadvances,farmers and
herdsmen are forced to move, either squeezing into the shrinking area of habitable or
forced into the already overcrowded cities.108 There is also a fairly widely-held belief
that the current crisis in Darfur has its origins in the extended drought that brought
pastoralists into competition with farmers.109
Large population movements are already recognized by the UN Security Council
as constituting a potential threat to international peace and security, particularly if
there are existing ethnic and social tensions.110 According to John Ashton, the UK’s
climate change envoy, “Massive migrations, particularly in the arid or semi-arid areas
in which more than a third of the world’s people live, will turn fragile states into failed
states and increase the pressure on regional neighbours – a dynamic that is already
apparent in Africa”.111
4.4 Health impacts and welfare of forced migrants
Population displacement undermines the provision of medical care and vaccin-
ation programmes; making infectious diseases harder to deal with and more deadly.
It is well documented that refugee populations suffer worse health outcomes than
and gender-based violence.112
Forced migration in response to climate stresses can also spread epidemic disease.
Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is one example. VL is a widespread parasitic disease with
a global incidence of 500,000 new human cases each year. In northeastern Brazil,
periodic epidemic waves of VL have been associated with migrations to urban areas
after long periods of drought.113
Far from being gender-neutral, climate change, and the use of migration
is a “strong relationship between poverty and vulnerability to environmental
change, and the stark fact that women, as a group, are poorer and less power-
ful than men”.115
For example, when rural families attempt to address environmental stress
by having a member of their family migrate to the city to earn an income and
thus shift direct reliance on climate-dependent natural resources, the effect
on women and gender dynamics is complex. On the one hand, women left
behind by male migrants may experience more autonomy and have greater
decision-making power because they become de facto household heads after
their husbands migrate.116 Male outmigration can also enhance the economic
situation of the household left behind through remittances,117 which have
growndramatically inrecent yearsandexceedofcialdevelopmentaidin
some developing countries.118
On the other hand, however, male outmigration can exacerbate the poverty
of rural women. As Sylvia Chant explains, “the fragile resource base of some
de facto female-headed units may be compounded by low reserves of labour
or the inability to mobilize labour on account of social taboos regarding
women’s access to machinery and participation in certain agricultural tasks.”119
Furthermore, Chant notes, for example in both Bangladesh and Pakistan, that
even with male outmigration, “women may not be able to take major decisions
over household production or livelihoods in the home village itself without
In Africa, many men are migrant workers (or work seekers) in their own
or other countries but faced with natural disasters and a diminishing resource
base, women may seek to migrate as well, usually to urban centres.121 While
lone women migrants will face similar challenges to their male counterparts
inndingemployment,affordable housing, andaccessingsocialservices,
This is evident in the case of women from the village of Kallayaran in Peru,
where, as unskilled peasant labour, they have limited opportunities to work
domestic services.123
to climate change, the nature of migration as a result, and repercussions for
gender dynamics and women’s lives, it is essential nonetheless to recognize
that climate change will have gender specic impacts, and, critically,to
mainstream a gender perspective into climate change discussions.
5. PoLiCy resPonses
Heads in the sand
Despite the serious development implications of large-scale forced climate migra-
tion international capacity and interest in dealing with it is limited.124 Bold speeches and
elaborate commitments to the pursuit of noble goals like refugee rights, environmental
protection and sustainable development typically fall prey to narrow geopolitical
interests when the time for action comes. The result is that forced climate migrants
fall through the cracks of international refugee and immigration policy. There is no
Instead, there is a collective, and rather successful, attempt to ignore the scale of
the problem. Until now the international community has largely focused on mitigating
climate change by setting emissions targets for OECD countries and agonising about
how to bring it new members to a post-Kyoto 2012 framework. More recently, greater
attention has been paid to helping countries adapt to the impacts of climate change.
But this approach to adaptation is fundamentally based on the idea of adapting “in
situ”. Migration is seen as a failure of adaptation.
Potential progress can be divided into three, quite distinct, areas. I say “potential”
here as there has not been real progress on any front – yet. First is the legal-political
is the extent to which forced migration is being incorporated into current domestic
plans for climate change adaptation. Third is whether the OECD countries are willing
to open their “immigration gates” to climate migrants.
5.1. Expanding the denition of a “refugee”
Therehavebeensomeattempts tobroadenthe existingdenitionofapolitical
refugee to include those displaced for environmental reasons or to write a new con-
of an environmental refugee means that, unless they’re relocated by extreme weather
events,theirdisplacementdoesnottriggeranyaccessto nancialgrants,foodaid,
tools, shelter, schools or clinics.
As a result there is no structural capacity in the international system to provide
for environmental migrants. Climate migrants are not recognized as a problem in any
binding international treaty nor is there an international body charged with providing
for climate migrants, or even counting them. Instead the default response of OECD
donor countries to extreme weather events is to give humanitarian aid and invest in
early warning systems.
In 2005 the Director of the UN University Institute for Environment and Human
Security, Janos Bogardi, argued, “there are well-founded fears that the number of
peopleeeinguntenable environmental conditionsmaygrowexponentially asthe
world experiences the effects of climate change and other phenomena. This new
In August 2006 a meeting of NGOs and some affected countries was held in the
law. Inclusion within current refugee law would bring the existing weight of interna-
tional law and precedent to act on the issue – and would trigger certain obligations
on the part of other countries being forced to act refugees. However, since then the
process has faltered and it is hard to foresee any realistic consensus on an expanded
The Environmental Change and Forced Migration Project (EACH-FOR)
is an attempt to address the statistical gap in our understanding of climate
migration. Funded by the European Commission its multi-disciplinary team
is made up of seven different research organizations spread across Europe.
Over two years starting in mid 2007 they aim to support European policy with
5.2 Adaptation in affected countries
As climate change advances, individual countries will have to make a series of
managed retreats from eroding shorelines there. The resources and foresight at the
climate change, including how many of its population are forced to move.
Domestic policy remains a key variable in disaster risk reduction and population
distribution (page 19). With the right kind of adaptation countries can reduce their
vulnerability to the impacts of climate events and manage the evolution of climate
processes. Cuba, for example, lies directly in a hurricane path but suffers less from
hurricanes than its neighbours because of careful preparation, effective early warning
systems and widespread storm education.
But few countries are putting any plans in place for the prospect of large-scale
forced climate migration. The UNFCCC has supported the development of National
Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPA) which are supposed to help the LDCs
identify and rank their priorities for adaptation to climate change.129 However, none of
the 14 submitted so far (Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burundi, Cambodia, Comoros, Djibouti,
Haiti, Kiribati, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritania, Niger, Samoa, Senegal) mentions
migration or population relocation as a possible policy response.130
Of course migration may be the only possible adaptive response in the case of
large parts of the country. Andrew Simms of the New Economics Foundation points
out that domestic level responses are, in some cases, an absurd proposition given that
the national level might be under water.131
Migration is typically seen as a failure of adaptation, not a form of it. There are
precedents though. Between 1984-5 the Ethiopian government resettled tens of thou-
sands of people from drought-stricken areas.132 Two decades later the Asian Tsunami
gave new impetus to plans in the Maldives to organize a “staged retreat” from their
outlying islands. The plan is to concentrate the islands’ 290,000 residents on several
dozen, slightly higher islands than the 200 islands that the population is currently
spread across.133
5.3 Immigration policy in less-affected countries
Another determinant of forced migration will be immigration policies in countries
less affected by climate change, in particular the OECD countries. Some analysts are
beginning to argue that immigration is both a necessary element of global redistribu-
tive justice and an important response to climate change; that greenhouse gas emitters
should take an allocation of climate migrants in proportion to their historical emissions.
Andrew Simms of the New Economics Foundation argues, “Is it right that while some
states are more responsible for creating problems like global climate change, all states
should bear equal responsibility to deal with its displaced people?”.134
It has been widely reported that New Zealand has agreed to accept the inhabitants
country uninhabitable.135 However, this is an urban myth: New Zealand only accepts
which makes no reference to environmental degradation. No other country has yet
been willing to set a precedent by explicitly accepting climate migrants under a
refugee category.
Sweden is the only country even to get close. Swedish immigration policy men-
tions environmental migrants as a special category as a “person in need of protection”
who is unable to return to his native country because of an environmental disaster.
However, the extent to which this includes climate change impacts has not yet been
as an example of an “environmental disaster” whereas natural disasters are not
However, there are increasing examples of immigration concessions for victims of
natural disasters – albeit on an ad hoc basis. For example, in 2003 the US immigration
service extended for two more years the Temporary Protection Status it granted to
which devastated large parts of Central America.137 The Regional Conference on
Migration, which is also known as the “Puebla Process”, played an important role in
process is an ongoing regional forum for migration in North and Central America and
the Dominican Republic which fosters regular and constructive dialogue on migration
issues between the member states.138
After the 2004 Tsunami, Switzerland, Canada, and Malaysia temporarily suspended
involuntary returns of failed asylum seekers to affected areas of India, Sri Lanka,
Thailand and Indonesia. Likewise Australia put a high priority on processing tempo-
rary visas for victims and fast-tracking existing applications. The European Union,
for its part, proposed offering temporary asylum to child victims of the disaster so
as to allow them several months in Europe to recover from the trauma.139 Whether
or not this adds up to an evolving norm of soft law is highly debateable, but it does
show some “greyness” at the edges of immigration policy.
There is a dilemma here. Relaxing immigration rules as part of a concerted policy
to “release the population pressure” in areas affected by climate change could acceler-
ate the brain drain of talented individuals from the developing world to the developed
– and worsen the “hollowing out” of affected economies, which is itself a driver of
migration. On the other hand, shutting borders in both source and destination coun-
of access to the international labour market.
At the other extreme is India’s 4,095 kilometre fence along the Bangladeshi
estimates at 20 million people annually).140 Construction started in 2002 and
future forced climate migrants.141
6. ConCLUsions
Environmental, economic and political degradation are connected – though the
or, more likely, each drives the other in a vicious cycle of reinforcing degradations”.142
Migration to the United States is an example, “though nominally economic migrants,
nually from Mexico are in part driven by declining ecological conditions in a country
Anthropogenic climate change exacerbates existing environmental, economic and
social vulnerabilities. It follows that adaptation to climate change has to be broader
than tackling the marginal increased impact of anthropogenic climate change. Focusing
on the impacts of climate change without factoring in the local context is leading to
some bizarre policy distortions. For example, in the Philippines, policymakers have
beguntoacknowledge theoodthreats posedbya projectedannualsealevel rise
from climate change of 1 to 3 millimetres per year. But at the same time they are
water extraction which is lowering land surface by several centimetres to more than
a decimetre per year.144
On current climate change scenarios, a certain amount of forced climate migration
is “locked in”. But how much depends on the international community’s mitigation
and adaptation plans now. It is clear that the international community has to face up
to the prospect of large-scale displacement caused by climate change. There is a need
for international recognition of the problem, a better understanding of its dimensions
and a willingness to tackle it. This should take several forms:
1. The international community needs to acknowledge formally the predicament
a refugee under international law that included environmental degradation as
and environmental) refugees, some kind of international recognition is required
to cement the issue on the international agenda.
2. Development and adaptation policies in potential source countries of forced
climate migrants need to focus on reducing people’s vulnerability to climate
change, moving people away from marginal areas and supporting livelihoods
would offset some of the predicted impacts of climate change. In Pakistan,
for example, irrigated agriculture uses 85 per cent of the country’s fresh water
supply but leakage and evaporation means that it is only 50 to 65 per cent
3. A great deal more research is needed to understand the causes and consequen-
ces of climate migration and to monitor numbers. Practitioners, meanwhile,
should develop better communication and working relationships between the
different human rights, population, environmental and migration organizations
that share a mandate to respond to population displacement.146
4. Finally, the international community needs to help generate incentives to keep
skilled labour in developing countries but also to allow developing countries to
regulation of labour migration, adaptation to climate change and capacity
building in vulnerable countries are inherently intertwined. Migration will
be used by some households in vulnerable countries as a means of adapting
to climate change. Clearly there has to be a balance of policies that promotes
the incentives for workers to stay in their home countries whilst not closing
the door of international labour mobility.
1. This paper draws heavily from a thematic paper prepared for the 2007/2008 Human De-
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due to several ambitious repatriation programmes and an overall decline in new conflicts.
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AnneX 1 : the eMission sCenArios of the iPCC
sPeCiAL rePort on eMission sCenArios (sres)147
A1. The A1 storyline and scenario family describes a future world of very rapid
economic growth, global population that peaks in mid-century and declines thereafter,
themes are convergence among regions, capacity building and increased cultural and
social interactions, with a substantial reduction in regional differences in per capita
income. The A1 scenario family develops into three groups that describe alternative
directions of technological change in the energy system. The three A1 groups are dis-
tinguished by their technological emphasis: fossil intensive (A1FI), non-fossil energy
not relying too heavily on one particular energy source, on the assumption that similar
improvement rates apply to all energy supply and end use technologies).
A2. The A2 storyline and scenario family describes a very heterogeneous world. The
underlying theme is self reliance and preservation of local identities. Fertility patterns
across regions converge very slowly, which results in continuously increasing popula-
tion. Economic development is primarily regionally oriented and per capita economic
growth and technological change more fragmented and slower than other storylines.
B1. The B1 storyline and scenario family describes a convergent world with the
same global population, that peaks in mid-century and declines thereafter, as in the
A1 storyline, but with rapid change in economic structures toward a service and
information economy, with reductions in material intensity and the introduction of
clean and resource efcient technologies. The emphasis is on global solutions to
economic, social and environmental sustainability, including improved equity, but
without additional climate initiatives.
B2. The B2 storyline and scenario family describes a world in which the emphasis
is on local solutions to economic, social and environmental sustainability. It is a world
with continuously increasing global population, at a rate lower than A2, intermedi-
ate levels of economic development, and less rapid and more diverse technological
change than in the B1 and A1 storylines. While the scenario is also oriented towards
environmental protection and social equity, it focuses on local and regional levels.
The SRES scenarios do not include additional climate initiatives, which means
that no scenarios are included that explicitly assume implementation of the United
Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change or the emissions targets of the
Kyoto Protocol.
1. Myths and Realities of Chinese Irregular Migration
Ronald Skeldon, December 2000
2. Combating Trafcking in South-East Asia: A Review of Policy and
Programme Responses
Annuska Derks, December 2000
3. The Role of Regional Consultative Processes in Managing International
Amanda Klekowski von Koppenfels, May 2001
4. The Return and Reintegration of Rejected Asylum Seekers and Irregular
Migrants: An Analysis of Government Assisted Return Programmes in
Selected European Countries
Khalid Koser, May 2001
5. Harnessing the Potential of Migration and Return to Promote Development
Savina Ammassari and Richard Black, August 2001
6. Recent Trends in Chinese Migration to Europe: Fujianese Migration in
Frank N. Pieke, March 2002
7. Trafcking for Sexual Exploitation: The Case of the Russian Federation
Donna M. Hughes, June 2002
8. The Migration-Development Nexus: Evidence and Policy Options
Ninna Nyberg-Sorensen, Nicholas Van Hear and Poul Engberg-Pedersen,
July 2002
9. A Review of Data on Trafcking in the Republic of Korea
June J.H. Lee, August 2002
10. Moroccan Migration Dynamics: Prospects for the Future
Rob van der Erf and Liesbeth Heering, August 2002
11. Journeys of Jeopardy: A Review of Research on Trafcking in Women and
Children in Europe
Elizabeth Kelly, November 2002
12. Irregular Migration in Turkey
Ahmet Içduygu, February 2003
13. Bordering on Control: Combating Irregular Migration in North America and
Philip Martin, April 2003
14. Migration and Development: A Perspective from Asia
Graeme Hugo, November 2003
IOM Migration Research Series
15. Is Trafcking in Human Beings Demand Driven? A Multi-Country Pilot Study
Bridget Anderson and Julia O’Connell Davidson, December 2003
16. Migration from Latin America to Europe: Trends and Policy Challenges
Adela Pellegrino, May 2004
17. The Development Potential of Zimbabweans in the Diaspora: A Survey of
Zimbabweans Living in the UK and South Africa
Alice Bloch, January 2005
18. Dynamics of Remittance Utilization in Bangladesh
Tom de Bruyn, January 2005
19. Internal Migration and Development: A Global Perspective
Priya Deshingkar and Sven Grimm, February 2005
20. The Millennium Development Goals and Migration
Erica Usher, April 2005
21. Migration and Development: New Strategic Outlooks and Practical Ways
Forward: The Cases of Angola and Zambia
Dr Savina Ammassari, May 2005
22. Migration and Development: Opportunities and Challenges for Policymakers
Macha Farrant, Anna MacDonald, Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah, April 2006
23. Migration, Human Smuggling and Trafcking from Nigeria to Europe
Jorgen Carling, September 2006
24. Domestic Migrant Remittances in China: Distribution, Channels and
Rachel Murphy, September 2006
25. Remittances in the Great Lakes Region
Tom de Bruyn and Johan Wets, October 2006
26. Engaging Diasporas as Development Partners for Home and Destination
Countries: Challenges for Policymakers
Dina Ionescu, November 2006
27. Migration and Poverty Alleviation in China
WANG Dewen and CAI Fang, March 2007
28. A Study of Migrant-Sending Households in Serbia Receiving Remittances
from Switzerland
Nilim Baruah and Jennifer Petree, April 2007
29. Trafcking in Human Beings and the 2006 World Cup in Germany
Jana Hennig, Sarah Craggs, Frank Laczko and Fred Larsson, April 2007
30. Migration, Development and Natural Disasters: Insights from the Indian
Ocean Tsunami
Asmita Naik, Elca Stigter and Frank Laczko, June 2007
31. Migration and Climate Change
Oli Brown, January 2008
This study was conducted in three provinces
in Cambodia Koh Kong, Kampong Som
and Siem Reap. The research investigates the
process and mechanisms of trafcking within
Cambodia for two target groups: commercially
sexually exploited women and girls (CSEWGs)
and child domestic workers (CDWs). The
objective of the research was to understand
how the pull factors in different provinces lead
to migration and trafcking. It also sought to
clarify how the process of migration could
itself lead to trafcking.
IOM publications are available from:
International Organization for Migration, Research and Publications Unit
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Out of Sight, Out of Mind?
Child Domestic Workers and Patterns
of Trafcking in Cambodia
2007, Softcover, 78 pages, ISBN 978-92-9068-240-X, English
IOM and the African Capacity-building
Foundation (ACBF) organized a workshop
in Dakar on Migration, Development and
Poverty Reduction, attended by representatives
of over 20 countries. The discussions centred
on the potential contribution of migrants to
development and various ways to strengthen
their impact. The discussions resulted in a
series of proposals for the High-level Dialogue,
held at UN Headquarters in New York, in
September 2006.
and Poverty Reduction
IOM publications are available from:
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17 route des Morillons, CH-1211 Geneva 19 Switzerland
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2007, Softcover, 74 pages, ISBN 978-92-9068-368-1, English, Français
The research presented in this volume uses case
studies from around the world to examine the
ways in which migration inuences development.
The studies reveal that it is seldom the simple
act of migration but rather the conditions under
which migration takes place that determines
the developmental impact of migration. In
stead of engaging in normative discussions
about whether migration should contribute to
development, whether remittances should be
put to more developmental uses, whether return
should be promoted, or whether development
cooperation should engage in collaborative efforts with migrant and
refugee diasporas, the chapters focus attention on the kinds of questions
policymakers and practitioners should take into consideration when
background analyses for such decisions are made.
IOM publications are available from:
International Organization for Migration, Research and Publications Unit
17 route des Morillons, CH-1211 Geneva 19 Switzerland
Tel: +41.22.717 91 11, Fax: +41.22.798 61 50, E-mail:
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10% of sales price for handling and postage.
The list of IOM publications may be found on the IOM website:
Living Across Worlds:
Diaspora, Development
and Transnational Engagement
2007, Softcover, 211 pages, ISBN 978-92-9068-404-6, English, US$ 26.00
World Migration 2008
focuses on the labour
mobility of people in today’s evolving global
economy. It provides policy ndings and prac-
tical options with a view to making labour
migration more effective and equitable and to
maximizing the benets of labour migration
for all stakeholders concerned. The ndings
and options are drawn from IOM’s policy and
programme experience, the most recent works
of leading scholars and researchers, partner
international organizations, government mi-
gration policy and practice, the private sector,
and civil society. The report also analyses migration ows, stocks and
trends and surveys current migration developments in the major regions
of the world.
World Migration 2008:
Managing Labour Mobility in the
Evolving Global Economy
IOM publications are available from:
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Tel: +41.22.717 91 11, Fax: +41.22.798 61 50, E-mail:
Payment must accompany orders and can be made by international bank draft or money
order in US dollars payable to International Organization for Migration, Geneva. Please add
10% of sales price for handling and postage.
The list of IOM publications may be found on the IOM website:
2008, Softcover, 300 pages, ISBN 978-92-9068-405-3, ISSN 1561-5502,
English, Français, Español, US$ 80.00
Available in April 2008
IOM Migration Research Series (MRS)
Editor: Frank Laczko
Chief, Research and Publications Division
International Organization for Migration
17 route des Morillons
C.P. 71 CH-1211 Geneva 19
Tel: +41.22.717 91 11
Titles in the series are available from:
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Fax: +41.22.798 61 50, E-mail:
i The MRS order form is found on the IOM website: http:/
Single issue: US$ 16-25 + US$ 2 postage
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This report focuses on the possible future scenarios for climate change, natural
disasters and migration and development, looking to increase awareness and
nd answers to the challenges that lie ahead.
The report states that even though it is dened as a growing crisis, the
consequences of climate change for human population are unclear and
unpredictable. In 1990, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
(IPCC) noted that the greatest single impact of climate change could be on
human migration—with millions of persons displaced by shoreline erosion,
coastal ooding and agricultural disruption. Since then various analysts have
tried to put numbers on these ows of climate migrants, the most widely
repeated prediction being 200 million by 2050.
The study points out that the scientic basis for climate change is increasingly
well established, and conrms that current predictions as to the “carrying
capacity” in large parts of the world will be compromised by climate change.
ISSN 1607-338X
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... Rural to urban movement in response to climate change is neither a new phenomenon nor an historically negative trend. 57 It is in fact believed that the "emergence of the first large, urban societies was driven by a combination of climatic and environmental desiccation." 58 Moreover, migration to urban centers and the "resulting need to organize densely packed populations in order to manage scarce resources in restricted areas has been identified as one of the main driving forces behind the development of the first civilizations." ...
While conflict, crime, and terrorism are persistent geopolitical and human security threats, climate change can be a threat multiplier, affecting geopolitical stability on local, regional, and global scales. This paper provides a qualitative assessment of the literature and geopolitical trends related to climate change, migration, and ethnocentrism in order to evaluate the current situation and future potentials for climate-driven conflict, crime, terrorism, and ethnocentric extremism. The paper concludes that as climate change becomes a major driver of environmental degradation, natural disasters, mass migrations, and urbanization, this will escalate the impetus for violence against migrants, the exploitation of migrants, and anti-migrant politics. Potential implications in terms of terrorism and extremism are discussed.
... Indeed, crop failures and resulting food riots will vary from region to region. 67,68 Collectively, however, the exodus of forced migrants and climate refugees will endure. 69,70 In such circumstances, essential investments in climate adaptation in agriculture would be discouraged, preserving vulnerabilities, increasing the frequency of crop failures, and reinforcing the feedback loop (see diagram 4). ...
Full-text available
The global system of food and agriculture is constrained by finite resources, it is prone to operational instability, it fails to prevent famine and micronutrient deficiencies, and it is a prime contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, climate change and ecosystems collapse. If left unattended, the system may engender further global catastrophic risks (GCRs). However, interventions employed by the food science, technology and policy communities are ineffective, if not counterproductive. Incremental modifications to the system will neither achieve food security nor avoid ecological degradation. This paper draws on primary and secondary sources, expert interviews and system dynamics models, to analyze and illustrate how the food system is organized and functions in self-undermining, self-debilitating dynamics, disrupting yields and supply chains, and resulting in GCRs. Based on this analysis, and informed by system dynamics literature, a set of interventions is proposed with the potential to mitigate the triple ecological-nutritional-social risks engendered by modern food and agriculture.
... Such climate change effects and environmental degradation can undermine local livelihoods, forcing young people to abandon the rural areas in which they were brought up. Brown (2008) distinguishes between 'climate processes' (sea-level rise, desertification and growing water scarcity) and 'climate events' (flooding, storms and glacial lake outburst floods). That said, much remains unknown and scientists have not reached a consensus on future climate impacts, making it difficult to predict their effect on migration. ...
... Greenhouse gas triggers climate change, and it has a vital effect on humankind and other living beings (Vries, 2012). Due to global warming, many habitable areas are under risk, and it is expected that due to climate change, the number of migrants will increase (Brown, 2008). Here, it is possible to mention that the migration issue is a critical one for the world society. ...
Full-text available
Firat Barçadurmuş: Sustainabilitism: An approach to sustainability Robert Rajczyk: Framing the New Southbound Policy in Western media Natalia Stępień-Lampa: The political context of reforms and the condition of the Polish school during the first term of rule of Law and Justice Roshan Sheikh: Human Rights violation in Indian-administered Kashmir and role of United Nations, 1989—2019
... Some scholars argued that rural and urban employment helps the affected people recover as long as household resettlement capacities and skills allow (Barnett and Webber 2010;Piguet, 2010). Others opposed that household decisions for rural outmigration for jobs are usually radical outcomes of climate impact, rather than decisions made before devastating impacts occur, and indicate worsened livelihoods (Brown et al., 2007;Brown, 2008;Warner and Afifi 2014;Adger et al., 2015). Whether local climatic variabilities are indeed behind the globally rising internal and crossborder migration is also debated (Hunter et al., 2015;Hoffman, 2020;Mueller et al., 2020;New York Times, 2020). ...
Full-text available
Tanzania is one of the East African countries most vulnerable to climate change impacts. Droughts and floods in 2015–16 had devastating effects on food production, crop failures and livestock deaths reaching record levels. One of the underlying projects of the Tanzanian government to mitigate these impacts is the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridors of Tanzania (SAGCOT), an area spanning the country’s largest river basin, the Rufiji, where it collaborates with national and transnational companies to intensify irrigated crop production. Irrigation, drought-tolerant seeds, and employment are three of the key government-advised strategies to help smallholders increase crop yield, adapt to climate change, and alleviate poverty through the corridor. However, little research is available on whether these goals have been achieved. This paper aims to contribute to the literature by assessing harvest and income levels following the 2015–16 drought. Through fieldwork conducted in 2016–17 in Usangu, a key paddy production area in the Great Ruaha Basin within SAGCOT, data is collected from documents and 114 informants. This study finds that irrigation did not significantly contribute to rising paddy production in the case study. Prioritizing the downstream national park and the energy sector, the government periodically cut down the water access of the case-study irrigation scheme, which exacerbated water stress. Moreover, though farmers widely shifted to intensive farming and used hybrid seeds, mainly, the high-income groups ensured and increased the crop yield and profit. The-low income groups encountered crop failure and, due to rising production costs, debt. Many of them left farming, impoverished, and sought to secure subsistence through wage laboring. This study discusses the shortcomings of the transitions from traditional to intensive farming and from farming to employment as climate change adaptation strategies and draws critical policy-relevant conclusions.
As climate migration has garnered the interest of research and policy communities over the last two decades, the focus has been on whether, how and where climate stresses might precipitate out‐migration, and how to assist and protect those affected. Less attention has gone to the places that receive climate migrants, and how their arrival might affect adaptation at destination. Against the backdrop of increasingly severe climate disruptions, this paper examines the likelihood of climate‐related movements going into urban areas, and the challenges that this may entail for those who move and for urban governance. With much of climate migration projected to feed into existing urbanization trends, we see the need for data and research to help bolster the agency of communities and cities to plan and act locally, and across geographies, for inclusion and resilience, and to advocate collectively for enabling policy frameworks and increased national and international support.
Melt (2019), Jeff Murray’s debut novel is set in the near future of 2048. It depicts how the Anthropocene has wrought massive changes to seascapes, islandscapes, and landscapes, especially those of the tropical Pacific. The novel follows the plight of the people of Independence, a fictional low-lying Pacific island, who, due to rising sea levels and tropical storms, seek to migrate to New Zealand. However, migration is an option for rich countries, and the island community remains climate refugees on their ecologically crumbling island in a new world of mass climate migration. This paper focuses on cultural seascapes and landscapes of the Anthropocene, disruptions in human-nature relationships, and the possibility of human adaptation through climate migration. We read Melt with reference to the ecocritical theories of Cheryll Glotfelty, Lawrence Buell, and M. R. Mazumdar.
Full-text available
This article elaborates on the theoretical foundations as well as the empirical outputs of climate-related migration and formulates a contemporary framework in analyzing this subject. There has been a paradigm shift from securitizing climate-related migration towards an emphasis on adaptation, resilience and justice. While it is still possible to talk about security-oriented discourses based on the realist approach, climate change has increasingly been recognized as a 'threat multiplier' rather than a sole primary threat. In the meantime, the liberal approach has embraced adaptation, resilience and climate justice discourses about climate refugees. On the empirical front, climate-related migration is observed mainly in South Asia, the Pacific and Africa.
Full-text available
This paper analyses the implications of climate change for the conduct of monetary policy in the euro area. It first investigates macroeconomic and financial risks stemming from climate change and from policies aimed at climate mitigation and adaptation, as well as the regulatory and fiscal effects of reducing carbon emissions. In this context, it assesses the need to adapt macroeconomic models and the Eurosystem/ECB staff economic projections underlying the monetary policy decisions. It further considers the implications of climate change for the conduct of monetary policy, in particular the implications for the transmission of monetary policy, the natural rate of interest and the correct identification of shocks. Model simulations using the ECB’s New Area-Wide Model (NAWM) illustrate how the interactions of climate change, financial and fiscal fragilities could significantly restrict the ability of monetary policy to respond to standard business cycle fluctuations. The paper concludes with an analysis of a set of potential monetary policy measures to address climate risks, insofar as they are in line with the ECB’s mandate.
Full-text available
Vulnerability to environmental degradation and natural hazards is articulated along social, poverty, and gender lines. Just as gender is not sufficiently mainstreamed in many areas of development policy and practice, so the potential impacts of climate change on gender relations have not been studied, and remain invisible. In this article we outline climate change predictions, and explore the effects of long-term climate change on agriculture, ecological systems, and gender relations, since these could be significant. We identify predicted changes in natural hazard frequency and intensity as a result of climate change, and explore the gendered effects of natural hazards. We highlight the urgent need to integrate gender analyses into public policy-making, and in adaptation responses to climate change.
This book describes the direct and indirect global impacts of climate change. It includes 30 chapters divided into 7 parts. Part I (Introduction) includes 2 chapters describing anthropocene and the impact of climate change on global health. Part II includes 4 chapters focusing on the primary health effects of climate change: heat- and cold-related mortality and morbidity; occupational heat exposure and effects; and climate extremes, disasters and health. Part III includes 6 chapters covering the secondary health effects of climate change: global warming and malaria in tropical highlands; dengue distribution and transmission dynamics; Lyme disease; human parasitic disease; allergens and allergic diseases; and wildfires and air pollution. Part IV includes 3 chapters describing the tertiary health effects of climate change: famine, food security and hunger; migration and population health; and association between climate change, conflict and ill-health. Part V includes 8 chapters discussing the health impacts of climate change in different regions (East Asia, South Asia, Latin America, Small Island States (Pacific Islands, Caribbean and Indian Ocean Islands), Europe, Arctic and Africa). Part VI includes 5 chapters discussing cross-cutting issues related to climate change: food and energy; biomass fuels, poverty and gender; mental health and cognition; housing and public health; and scenarios. Lastly, Part VII includes 2 chapters on health activism and adaptation to climate change. This book provides invaluable evidence for public health professionals, those responsible for protecting populations from the effects of extreme events, and public health and development communities.
In the face of recurrent droughts in the West African Sahel, conflicts between resource users have increased in number and have become more destructive. This raises concerns for long-term security of resident populations under conditions of climate change. This study of 27 communities in northern Nigeria finds that traditional institutions used in conflict management may be capable of moderating future conflicts that emerge due to climate change. These traditional institutions prioritise the maintenance of social and ecological systems, as opposed to the punishment of offenders that is the focus of western-style conflict resolution systems. Given their demonstrated effectiveness, traditional systems should be fostered within the context of sustainable development and be mainstreamed into national development policies.
Meteorological drought in the Hadley Centre global climate model is assessed using the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI), a commonly used drought index. At interannual time scales, for the majority of the land surface, the model captures the observed relationship between the El Niño-Southern Oscillation and regions of relative wetness and dryness represented by high and low values of the PDSI respectively. At decadal time scales, on a global basis, the model reproduces the observed drying trend (decreasing PDSI) since 1952. An optimal detection analysis shows that there is a significant influence of anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gasses and sulphate aerosols in the production of this drying trend. On a regional basis, the specific regions of wetting and drying are not always accurately simulated. In this paper, present-day drought events are defined as continuous time periods where the PDSI is less than the 20th percentile of the PDSI distribution between 1952 and 1998 (i.e., on average 20% of the land surface is in drought at any one time). Overall, the model predicts slightly less frequent but longer events than are observed. Future projections of drought in the twenty-first century made using the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) A2 emission scenario show regions of strong wetting and drying with a net overall global drying trend. For example, the proportion of the land surface in extreme drought is predicted to increase from 1% for the present day to 30% by the end of the twenty-first century.
The spatial patterns, time history, and seasonality of African rainfall trends since 1950 are found to be deducible from the atmosphere’s response to the known variations of global sea surface temperatures (SSTs). The robustness of the oceanic impact is confirmed through the diagnosis of 80 separate 50-yr climate simulations across a suite of atmospheric general circulation models. Drying over the Sahel during boreal summer is shown to be a response to warming of the South Atlantic relative to North Atlantic SST, with the ensuing anomalous interhemispheric SST contrast favoring a more southern position of the Atlantic intertropical convergence zone. Southern African drying during austral summer is shown to be a response to Indian Ocean warming, with enhanced atmospheric convection over those warm waters driving subsidence drying over Africa. The ensemble of greenhouse-gas-forced experiments, conducted as part of the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, fails to simulate the pattern or amplitude of the twentieth-century African drying, indicating that the drought conditions were likely of natural origin. For the period 2000–49, the ensemble mean of the forced experiments yields a wet signal over the Sahel and a dry signal over southern Africa. These rainfall changes are physically consistent with a projected warming of the North Atlantic Ocean compared with the South Atlantic Ocean, and a further warming of the Indian Ocean. However, considerable spread exists among the individual members of the multimodel ensemble.
Climate change faces new threats to the international community. On the one hand, sea rise could be a factor of instability in many regions while, on the other hand, droughts could affect international rivers such as the Jordan River or the Nile River therefore increasing the political instability of their basin. Against this background, the goal of this paper is to determine which path the international community should take in order to definitively tackle climate change threats to international peace: an ex-post approach or an ex-ante approach. The ex-post approach analyzes the international legal and political framework in which future climate change related problems may be addressed by the international community. The first task is to determine whether climate change and its consequences may be considered as a threat to international peace and security in the light of Art. 39 of the United Nations Charter. The second task is to assess if the current legal and political framework of the international community can deal with these climate change related problems. In particular, the paper will see if the system provided for in Chapter 7 of the United Nations (UN) Charter, which deals with threats to peace and international security, would be able to face such international problems. Whatever results the ex-post approach study will give us, it constitutes an effort to improve the international community's response to an environmental problem once it has already occurred. The ex-ante approach focuses on the factors that provoke climate change and how to deal with them. It is now clear that the acceleration of climate change is primarily provoked by mankind through certain activities, such as the burning of oil. According to this approach, the international community must change its economic behavior and in some cases prioritize environmental interests over commercial interests. The legal relationship between the climate change regime and the international trade regime is a crucial issue within this context. In sum, the international community should follow the ex-ante approach. However, taking into account the current status of international affairs, this is not likely to happen in the short term. For this reason, I consider it vital that legal and political scholars take action within the ex-post approach in order to improve the current international community response to climate change threats, in particular by improving the maintenance of international peace and security system provided for in the UN Charter.
The recent history of resettlement in Ethiopia is briefly reviewed and the caused, flow patterns and some demographic impacts of the 1984/85 government-sponsored resettlement migration are examined with the objective of identifying motivations and constraints in the migration process, analysing changes in population distribution and examining policy implications. Famine was the major push factor in migration, but traditional reactions of peasants to drought and overpopulation caused more drought victims to leave their homes spontaneously for relief and transit centres than as recruits of the government-sponsored resettlement programme. However, motivation to migrate and distances travelled to centres showed strong regional variation, indicating the severity of the famine and traditional adaptive strategies. Changes in rural population density were significant in several awrajas (districts) but were reduced by return migration. Problems associated with this emergency resettlement programme are reflected in difficulties during programme implementation, generally low agricultural production of settlers and high rates of return migration. Further studies are needed on the ecological impact of settler migration in both sending and receiving areas, peasant coping behaviour, as well as the evolution of new settler migration patterns in the new settlement areas in W Ethiopia.