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The Climate Change And Migration Nexus

As we witness adverse impacts of climate change, it no more remains a buzzword and is evolving as a central point of discussion at every stage of planning. Sustainable urban and rural planning is one such dimension which cannot be ignored from the lens of climate change. Climate change can have lasting and permanent impact on the livelihoods of urban and rural areas, also leading to migration and displacement of people, deepening the migration crisis. According to a recent report by the World Bank, climate change could result in forcing  216 million people within the country, of which Sub-Saharan Africa is estimated to be most affected, totaling to 86 million. Identified factors which could drive the migration includes water scarcity, lower crop productivity, sea level rise and storm surge, heat stress and so on.

Climate migration is one of the single most affected by climate change and thus, it becomes crucial to take action in terms of sustainable planning over the next decade, which will be climate-friendly and ready to adapt to extreme-events. Taking responsible steps towards reducing carbon emissions and sustainable development, can reduce the migration numbers by 80%.

Case study

Mexico’s climate models predict a long-term dryness trend. The country has witnessed a trend of migration between US-Mexico and rural to urban Mexico, reflecting both international and internal migration. The author’s study is based on empirical evidence, specifically trends and data identified during the 90s decades. The study reflects few interesting observations:

  1. The author finds frequency of disaster and probability of international migration positively associated in the period 1990-1994. During another period form 1995-1999, disaster frequency is negatively associated with the migration, however positively associated to a rural household in a dry state for international migration.
  2. Further, in relation to the case of internal migration, author assess the following years: 1985-1989 and 1990-1994 and finds higher the number of frequencies, higher the number of migrants.
  3. The above empirical evidence suggests that climate drivers affect the migration in Mexico

With a decade left for the ambitious targets of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it is important for the policymakers to act at the intersection of development and SDGs for the well-being of the livelihoods. There is an urgent need in the form of action and address this critical issue over the next decade before it accelerates.

The World Bank report also outlines key policy level recommendations, addressing climate change first. It recommends cutting GHG emissions, so that it does not trigger climate change, which eventually causes climate migration. Further, it also recommends sustainable development planning, as we cannot wait for climate change risks to become neutral first. Thus, addressing the ongoing challenge as well as building climate resilient solutions for the coming years. Lastly, it recommends developing an adaptation strategy at each phase of migration and continue to invest in improving understanding of internal climate migration related areas to inform well-targeted policies, so that better decisions can be taken for further sustainable development and planning.

Humans strive in search of heaven, but what if the heaven is around you. Let’s make it livable.