Thursday, February 10, 2011

ADB is warning governments to prepare for climate change migration

A new study from the Asian Development Bank says that South Asia needs to prepare for migrations due to climate change. The report from the ADB says the migration will not be from hot to cool areas, but from rural to urban areas. They warn that governments should have a international cooperative body in place to help control the migration.

From Reuters Alert Net, writer Thin Lei Win breaks down the report for us.

The region faces particular threats from climate change-related sea level rise and storm surges, cyclones and typhoons, flooding and water stress, according to the authors of Climate Change and Migration in Asia and the Pacific

However, contrary to conventional portrayals of climate displacement - throngs of refugees seeking shelter across borders - the report says most migration in the region will be within national boundaries, and primarily from rural to urban areas. The movement, the bulk of which will involve poor people, is likely to be influenced by social, political and economic changes as well as climate pressures, the report’s authors said.

In addition, the events most likely to propel millions to leave their homes permanently will be gradual environmental changes such as desertification and sea-level rise rather than sudden disasters, said Bart W. Edes, director of ADB's division on poverty reduction, gender and social development.

“Although the extreme weather events capture the attention of people, it’s the slow onset, where eventually you can no longer grow crops in the area or you can no longer live along the coast because the coast has moved inland, that will drive people away more permanently,” he told AlertNet.

Still, scientists predict extreme events, which have displaced millions in Pakistan, China, Australia and Philippines in the past year alone, are likely to increase and add to migration pressures.

Many countries are not well placed to tackle growing migration issues, according to the report, part of an ADB program on migration driven by changing weather patterns.

“No international cooperation mechanism has been set up to manage these migration flows, and protection and assistance schemes remain inadequate, poorly coordinated, and scattered,” the report says. It urges urges national governments and the international community to “urgently address this issue in a proactive manner."

According to Edes, the lack of action on migration policy is in part driven by a lack of funding. Until recently, he said, migration plans could not be funded as part of climate change adaptation because migration was considered a failure of adaptation.

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