Climate – Migration
Groundswell : Preparing for Internal Climate Migration
World Bank Group, March 2018 :: 256 pages
This report, which focuses on three regions—Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Latin America that together represent 55 percent of the developing world’s population—finds that climate change will push tens of millions of people to migrate within their countries by 2050. It projects that without concrete climate and development action, just over 143 million people—or around 2.8 percent of the population of these three regions—could be forced to move within their own countries to escape the slow-onset impacts of climate change. They will migrate from less viable areas with lower water availability and crop productivity and from areas affected by rising sea level and storm surges. The poorest and most climate vulnerable areas will be hardest hit. These trends, alongside the emergence of “hotspots” of climate in- and out-migration, will have major implications for climate-sensitive sectors and for the adequacy of infrastructure and social support systems. The report finds that internal climate migration will likely rise through 2050 and then accelerate unless there are significant cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and robust development action.
The scale of internal climate migration will ramp up by 2050 and then accelerate unless concerted climate and development action is taken.
Under all three scenarios in this report, there is an upward trend of internal climate migration in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Latin America by 2050. In the worst-case or “pessimistic” scenario, the number of internal climate migrants could reach more than 143 million (around 86 million in Sub-Saharan Africa, 40 million in South Asia, and 17 million in Latin America) by 2050 (Figure 1). The poorest people and the poorest countries are the hardest hit.
In the “more inclusive development” scenario, internal climate migration across the three regions could drop to between 65 and 105 million. The “more climate-friendly” scenario projects the fewest internal climate migrants, ranging from 31 million to 72 million across the three regions.
Across all scenarios, climate change is a growing driver of internal migration. Climate change impacts (crop failure, water stress, sea level rise) increase the probability of migration under distress, creating growing challenges for human development and planning. Vulnerable people have the fewest opportunities to adapt locally or to move away from risk and, when moving, often do so as a last resort. Others, even more vulnerable, will be unable to move, trapped in increasingly unviable areas.
Internal climate migration will intensify over the next several decades and could accelerate after 2050 under the pessimistic scenario due to stronger climate impacts combined with steep population growth in many regions.
Countries can expect to see “hotspots” of climate-induced in- and out- migration. This will have significant implications for countries and future development planning.
The report projects that climate-driven “out-migration” will occur in areas where livelihood systems are increasingly compromised by climate change impacts. These “hotspots” are increasingly marginal areas and can include low-lying cities, coastlines vulnerable to sea level rise, and areas of high water and agriculture stress (Figure 2 for East Africa). In the northern highlands of Ethiopia for example, deteriorating water availability and lower crop yields will drive climate migrants from rainfed cropland areas. Even Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s largest city, could see slower population growth due to its reliance on increasingly unpredictable rainfall. The major cities of Dhaka in Bangladesh and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania will also experience dampened population growth due to rising sea level and storm surges.
Climate “in-migration” hotspots across the three regions emerge in locations with better climatic
conditions for agriculture as well as cities able to provide better livelihood opportunities. For example, the southern highlands between Bangalore and Chennai in India, the central plateau around Mexico City and Guatemala City, and Nairobi in Kenya are likely to become areas of increased climate in-migration.
Both types of hotspots emerge by 2030, and their number and spatial extent increase considerably by 2050. Planning and early action could help shape these hotspots: they are not pre-destined…
Migration can be a sensible climate change adaptation strategy if managed carefully and supported by good development policies and targeted investments…
Internal climate migration may be a reality but it doesn’t have to be a crisis. Action across three major areas could help reduce the number of people being forced to move in distress…