More than 140 million people could migrate by 2050 to three regions of the developing world to escape the effects of climate change, such as declining agricultural production, water scarcity and rising sea levels warns the World Bank.
In a report released Monday (March 19th), the World Bank has estimated that potential climate migrants in sub-Saharan Africa will reach 86 million, South Asia 40 million, and Latin America 17 million if nothing is done by this deadline. “Every day, climate change becomes a greater economic, social and existential threat,” commented Kristalina Georgieva, the World Bank’s second in command. “We are seeing it in cities facing unprecedented water crises, in coastal areas experiencing the wave of destructive storms, in agricultural areas that can no longer produce essential crops.”
A migration engine
She emphasizes that climate change has become irresistibly “a driving force for migration”, forcing individuals, families and even whole communities to look for more sustainable places. Internal climate migrations within the same region are already a reality and these “climatic migrants” would add to the millions already displaced for political, economic or social reasons.
The authors of the report conducted three case studies. One on Ethiopia where population growth could reach 85% by 2050 and migrations could increase due to lower harvests. Another study was conducted in Bangladesh, where “climate migrants” are likely to outnumber all other types of IDPs (internally displaced persons) by 2050. The last study focuses on Mexico, where migration from vulnerable areas to Climate change to urban areas is expected to increase.
We must act on many fronts
However, we can prevent these displacements of populations linked to climate change from degenerating into a humanitarian crisis that could threaten the development of certain countries, says the World Bank. The researchers argue that their numbers could be reduced by as much as 80% if policies act “on many fronts” by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, integrating these population displacements into development plans, or by investing to better understand the processes of internal climate migration.