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Climate change could force 216 million people across six world regions to migrate within their countries by 2050, with sub-Saharan Africa accounting for 86 million, a World Bank report says.

Juergen Voegele
Juergen Voegele, Vice President of Sustainable Development at the World Bank

It said this on Monday, September 13, 2021 in a statement issued in Washington DC at the release of the Groundswell report on internal climate migration titled “Acting on Internal Migration Part 2”.

According to it, climate change is an increasingly potent driver of migration.

The report said that hotspots of internal climate migration could emerge as early as 2030 and continue to spread and intensify by 2050.

It, however, finds that immediate and concerted action to reduce global emissions and support green, inclusive and resilient development could reduce the scale of climate migration by as much as 80 per cent to 44 million people.

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

“By 2050, sub-Saharan Africa could see as many as 86 million internal climate migrants; East Asia and the Pacific, 49 million; South Asia, 40 million; North Africa, 19 million; Latin America, 17 million; and Eastern Europe and Central Asia, five million.”

It also said that the updated report includes projections and analysis for three regions: East Asia and the Pacific, North Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

It added that the report builds on the novel and pioneering modeling approach of the previous World Bank Groundswell report from 2018, which covered sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Latin America.

By deploying a scenario-based approach, the report explores potential future outcomes, which can help decision-makers plan ahead.

“The approach allows for the identification of internal climate in- and out-migration hotspots.

“Namely the areas from which people are expected to move due to increasing water scarcity, declining crop productivity, and sea-level rise, and urban and rural areas with better conditions to build new livelihoods.”

The report, however, provides a series of policy recommendations that can help slow the factors driving climate migration and prepare for expected migration flows.

They 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.

Others are preparing for each phase of migration so that internal climate migration as an adaptation strategy could result in positive development outcomes.

It also recommended investing in a better understanding of the drivers of internal climate migration to inform well-targeted policies.

Juergen Voegele, Vice President of Sustainable Development at the World Bank, said that the Groundswell report was a stark reminder of the human toll of climate change, particularly on the world’s poorest who ironically, contribute 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.

“All these issues are fundamentally connected which is why our support to countries is positioned to deliver on climate and development objectives together while building a more sustainable, safe and resilient future.”

The report added that early and far-sighted global, regional and national action was imperative to address the urgent challenges at the nexus of climate, migration and development and foster momentum toward inclusive, sustainable and resilient economic transitions for all.

By Folasade Akpan

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