Africa set to become global climate migration ‘hotspot’

13th September 2021

By: Terence Creamer

Creamer Media Editor


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A new World Bank report warns that sub-Saharan African could make up 86-million of the world’s 216-million climate migrants by 2050, while North Africa could have the largest share of internal climate migrants relative to total population.

Titled ‘Groundswell’, the report updates and expands on modelling contained in a 2018 report by the same name.

That report warned that climate change could lead 143-million people in three regions of the world (South Asia, Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa) to migrate within their own countries.

The updated report includes three more regions (East Asia and the Pacific, North Africa and Eastern Europe and Central Asia) and states that, absent immediate and concerted action, “hotspots” of internal climate migration could emerge as early as 2030 and continue to spread and intensify by 2050.

Of the six regions examined in the two reports, sub-Saharan Africa is projected to have the largest number of internal climate migrants.

“The region is highly vulnerable to climate change impacts, especially in already fragile drylands and along exposed coastlines. Agriculture, which is almost all rainfed in the region, also accounts for a large share of employment.”

Internal migration in North Africa, meanwhile, is projected to affect 19-million people by 2050, or 9% of the total population.

“This is due to a great extent to severe water scarcity, as well as the impacts of sea-level rise on densely populated coastal areas and in the Nile Delta.”

Climate change, the reports states, is a powerful driver of internal migration because of its impacts on people’s livelihoods and loss of livability in highly exposed locations.

Hotspots of internal climate migration will intensify in rural, urban, and coastal systems and people will migrate due to water scarcity, lower crop productivity, sea level rise and storm surges.

Some places may also become less livable, owing to heat stress, extreme events and land loss.

The report argues that four policy recommendations, if acted on immediately, could reduce the scale of climate migration by as much as 80%. The recommendations include:

  • reducing global emissions and making every effort to meet the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement;
  • embedding internal climate migration in far-sighted green, resilient, and inclusive development planning;
  • preparing for each phase of migration, so that internal climate migration as an adaptation strategy can result in positive development outcomes; and
  • investing in better understanding of the drivers of internal climate migration to inform well-targeted policies.

““The Groundswell report is a stark reminder of the human toll of climate change, particularly on the world’s poorest – those who are contributing the least to its causes. It also clearly lays out a path for countries to address some of the key factors that are causing climate-driven migration,” World Bank sustainable development VP Juergen Voegele said.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter




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