According to the World Bank, internal climate migrants are rapidly becoming the human face of climate change. Their recent report, “Groundswell: Preparing for Internal Climate Migration“, shows that, without urgent global and national climate action, Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Latin America could see more than 143 million people move within their countries’ borders between now and 2050.
This study is one of its kind. It is comprehensive and up to date. The number ‘143 million’ does not include migration and displacement from other causes, such as extreme events, like hurricanes. Nor does it include cross-border migration. It is a little known fact that, globally, there are three times more people that move within countries than across borders. About 750 million people move internally, and around 250 million move across borders. These are not the migrants studied in this report: In most cases, these are economic, social, and political migrants. This report is about slow and persistent climate impacts that are bearing down on people, forcing them to move to another location.
The poorest people will be forced to move due to slow-onset climate change impacts, including: decreasing crop productivity, shortage of water, and rising sea levels. But if we act now, we could decrease the number of people forced to move due to climate change by as much as 80%, or 100 million people.
In order to do this, we would have to cut greenhouse gases now, imbed climate migration in development planning, and invest now to improve understanding of internal climate migration. The following 4 minute video is a good introduction to the problem.
Download the World Bank report: Groundswell: Preparing for Internal Climate Migration (256p).
The report identifies “hotspots” of climate in- and out-migration. These include climate-vulnerable areas from which people are expected to move, and locations into which people will try to move to build new lives and livelihoods.
I highly recommended the following 16 minute interview with Kanta Kumari Rigaud, Lead Environmental Specialist at the World Bank: