Climate change will lead to uncontrollable rise in migration: Study
NEW DELHI: Climate change will cause “uncontrollable” escalation in migration in South Asia, including India, three major international organisations working on the issue warned today.
Ahead of the Global Forum on Migration and Development, which is scheduled to start from Friday in Dhaka in Bangladesh, the study ‘Climate Change Knows No Borders’ by ActionAid, Climate Action Network South Asia and Bread for the World (Brot Fuer Die Welt) cautioned about the devastating and increasing impact of climate change on migration.
The study, which looks at climate change and its impact on migration in South Asia, particularly in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, also underlined the need for action by all governments of the world to tackle the issue.
It said the region is particularly vulnerable to climate change events, including droughts, heat waves, cyclones, rising sea levels, heavy rainfall, landslides and floods.
“Unprecedented drought and other climatic events in India have forced millions of people from their homes and traditional occupations, with women being the hardest hit.
“Unless the government helps people prepare for the impacts and implements social protection schemes effectively to tackle agrarian distress and forced migration, climate change will undo the benefits of growth in India,” said Bratindi Jena, ActionAid India’s head of Natural Resources.
In the study, the need for South Asian governments to monitor the specific impact of ‘climate migration’ on women and girls is highlighted as a key concern which the region needs to address.
The report outlines the growing and alarming trend of women and girls being trafficked into sexual exploitation as a result of migration, as well as the burden placed upon women at home whose husbands are forced to migrate.
The Warsaw International Mechanism, established in 2013 at the UN and affirmed by the last round of climate talks at Paris last year, does seek to address climate-induced displacement and migration.
However, little has yet been secured to protect the rights of people displaced by climate change, leaving their international legal status uncertain and not akin to the rights of people fleeing conflict who have in some cases similarly lost their homes, families and jobs, the study said.
“The UN’s Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage must work to ensure legal protection for people who are forced to migrate or are displaced by climate change,” Harjeet Singh, ActionAid’s Global Lead on Climate Change, said.
Singh said South Asian countries need support so that climate change doesn’t inevitably translate into alarming levels of unsafe migration and conflict over resources.
“Rich nations must also not fail to recognise their role in causing the climate crisis. They must help fight the flames in South Asia and elsewhere that they themselves kindled through carbon emissions in the first place,” he said.
The report said this year people in South Asia are suffering devastation due to extreme weather and they are on the move “like never before”.
In May 2016, Cyclone Roanu ripped through Sri Lanka, India and Bangladesh causing widespread damage and leaving in its wake reconstruction costs estimated at $1.7 billion.
In April 2016, temperatures reached a record-breaking 51 degrees Celsius at Rajasthan in India. 2015-16 brought with it extended drought and crop failure in Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and across India. Around 330 million people were affected in India alone and many more across the region.
The report said while the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) anticipates climate change impacts will be felt even more severely in future years, political disputes and cross-border fighting often characterise the reaction to migration across the region more than active solutions and problem-solving.
“The governments of South Asia must recognise that climate change knows no borders. They have a responsibility to use our shared mountains, rivers, history and cultures to seek common solutions to the droughts, sea-level rise and water shortages that the region is increasingly experiencing.
“We urgently need more cross-border efforts to help people cope with the new normal of climate disasters and protect those who are forced to migrate,” Sanjay Vashist, Climate Action Network South Asia’s Director, said.
The Global Forum on Migration and Development will take place from December 10 to 12 at Dhaka in Bangladesh, where meetings around the theme of a “transformative migration agenda” will be held.
The meetings will bring together government policymakers, civil society and development representatives, UN bodies and migration experts from around the world to agree upon solutions to migration issues.
Press link for more: Times of India