Climate change has become one of the most topical issues of our era. However whilst much attention is focused on its effects on the environment, thus far little attention has been placed on how it will affect migration. This in itself leads us full circle – how will migration and globalization affect the environment?
It has been estimated that by the end of the century global temperature will have increased between 1.8 and 4o degrees Celsius and sea level by 0.18 to 0.59 meters. Warming is predicted to be greatest over land, in continental interiors, and at high northern latitudes. Increases in rainfall are forecast in high latitudes whilst decreases are likely in most sub-tropical land regions. It is likely that hot extremes, heat waves and heavy rainfall events will become more frequent and tropical cyclones more intense.
Climate change is therefore traditionally categorized as an environmental issue. However, it must also be seen as a development issue that is causing people to migrate away from increasingly unbearable environmental conditions.
Whilst affecting all types of migration, rapid onset of climate phenomena are likely to be related more readily to distress migration. Creeping environmental degradation caused by gradual changes in the mean climatic conditions, catastrophic events such as sudden loss of land caused by climate extremes such as storm surges - these are likely to cause people to migrate, thus changing existing patterns of movement for goods and humans.
The impact of climate change on livelihoods is also manifested in a number of direct and indirect ways. These include loss of natural resources and changes in the viability of economic processes due to changes in global markets. Research has show that long-distance migration decreased during drought periods. This is possibly caused by an increase in food prices, forcing people to spend money on basic needs in place of migrating far from home. Short-distance migration increased during the same period as women and children left in search of work to contribute to household incomes. In turn, this strategy reduced the number of persons in a household and thus the amount of food needed.
Whilst rich countries are the culpable for climate change and have contributed most to total global emissions, it is poorer countries that will suffer catastrophic impacts in the long term. The IPCC highlights the following as being particularly vulnerable: Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Africa Mega deltas (particularly in Asia), and the Polar regions.
Richer countries must support the need for the transfer of existing and new adaption technology measures. Moreover, there is the need to create attractive incentives for poor countries to limit their emissions whilst safeguarding their right to development.
Poorer countries can take steps such as banning CFC-producing equipment, and placing high taxes on those who import them. Climate change concerns can be integrated in the school curriculum and disaster risk reduction strategies can be incorporated into the MDG-based national sustainable development plans.
As a young person, I would make a clarion call to all my fellow youth activists to work hard and also raise our voice against any inaction by our world leaders. We must fight for a better world for the generations to come otherwise we will have a big question to answer from posterity.
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Michael Baompong is the Founder and Executive Director of Young People We Care (YPWC). He has recently completed a four-year undergraduate degree at the University of Cape Coast, where he read Economics and Geography as his major courses. Michael graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Sciences He is an ardent believer in youth empowerment and believes that if the youth are not empowered now, the world’s future will be nothing to write home about.
He participated in the recently-held Civil Society Day of the Global Forum on Migration and Development in the Philippines where he made a strong case for youth migration.
In September 2008, he successfully managed a joint initiative that was undertaken by YPWC with support from UNICEF Voices of Youth, Global Youth Action Network, Migrants Rights International and TakingITGlobal for the creation and publication of some key youth statements for the Global Forum on Migration and Development in the Philippines.
He was nominated in 2006 by the Task Force Committee of the UN-Non Governmental Liaison service to present a paper on Migration and Development at the UN Headquarters in New York. Michael was also a youth delegate to the 2007 Global Forum on Migration and Development and also the Regional Consultation on Migration, Remittances and Development in Africa.
Aside the numerous contributions that he makes on youth and development issues on networks like TakingITGlobal he also has a research work findings on International Migration and Remittances to his credit.
Michael is currently an Advisory Board member of the Bangladesh Youth Parliament, and was also a contributor and editorial member of the young people version of the UN Human Development Report for 2006 and 2007.
His desire to see to the well being of the youth in the world, which has been given a major boost by the introduction of the Millennium Development Goals, continues to spur him on to greater heights as he renders unconditional services to humanity aimed at making the world a better place for all.
After successfully completing an E-course in Project Management and Grant/Proposal Writing, his organizational abilities have been enhanced. In his own words, ‘I have been able to organize a series of programs on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and the Millennium Development Goals, thanks to the knowledge I acquired from the course’. He has his eyes on being a Migration Expert.
good job Aparna
| Jun 9th, 2009
it was an informative piece.
climate change and migration Dulce Borromeo Colasito
| Jul 8th, 2010
Climate will really force some group of people to settle to another place to survive. It will be a pity for those place where they migrate because the user of their natural resources will increased.
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