World Bank study says “climate migrants” will be moving from vulnerable areas to escape water scarcity, crop failure, sea-level rise and storm surges. Niti Singh Reports

A recent World Bank study brings out the relationship between migration and climate change. The report “Groundswell—Preparing for Internal Climate Migration”, outlines the worsening impacts of climate change in three densely populated regions of the world. It says over 140 million people will move within their countries’ borders by 2050, creating a human crisis that threatens the development process.

These “climate migrants” would be additional to the millions of people already moving within their countries for economic, social, political or other reasons, the report warns.

However, concerted action – that includes global efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions and robust development planning initiatives at the country level – may lessen this worst-case scenario, by as much as 80 percent, or more than 100 million people.

The report is the first and the most comprehensive study of its kind to focus on the nexus between slow-onset climate change impacts, internal migration patterns and, development in three developing regions of the world: Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Latin America.

It mentions that by 2050, people will be forced to move from increasingly non-viable areas of their countries due to growing problems like water scarcity, crop failure, sea-level rise and storm surges.

World Bank Chief Executive Officer Kristalina Georgieva warns: “We have a small window now, before the effects of climate change deepen, to prepare the ground for this new reality,” Georgieva said.

“Without the right planning and support, people migrating from rural areas into cities could be facing new and even more dangerous risks,” said the report’s team lead Kanta Kumari Rigaud. “We could see increased tensions and conflict as a result of pressure on scarce resources,” Rigaud says, adding, “While internal climate migration is becoming a reality, it won’t be a crisis if we plan for it now.”

The report recommends the following key actions:

  • Cutting global greenhouse gas emissions to reduce climate pressure on people and livelihoods, and to reduce the overall scale of climate migration
  • Transforming development planning to factor in the entire cycle of climate migration (before, during and after migration)
  • Investing in data and analysis to improve understanding of internal climate migration trends and trajectories at the country level.