Climate change, which is becoming an increasingly potent driver of migration, could force as many as 216 million people in six regions to migrate within their own countries by 2050, according to the World Bank's new version of the Groundswell report published Monday.
The World Bank's first Groundswell report published in 2018 with a focus on South Asia, Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa projected that climate change could lead 143 million people to migrate within their own countries by 2050.
The new report builds on the first issue and includes three more regions namely; East Asia and the Pacific, North Africa, and Eastern Europe and Central Asia to analyze the impacts of climate change on migration.
The report found that water scarcity, lower crop productivity, sea level rises and storm surges could become more widespread in these six regions, potentially forcing over 216 million people to migrate, equivalent to 3% of the total projected population of these six regions.
'The scale of internal climate migration will be largest in the poorest and most climate-vulnerable regions, an indication that underlying gaps in the ability of livelihood, social, and economic systems to cope with climate change could undermine development gains,' the report said.
Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to have the largest number of internal climate migrants at 85.7 million people, or 4.2% of its total population.
The region is highly vulnerable to climate change impacts, the report cautioned, especially in already fragile drylands and along exposed coastlines. Agriculture, which is almost all rainfed in the region, also accounts for a significant share of employment.
East Asia and the Pacific follow with 48.4 million people, corresponding to 2.5% of its total population, and South Asia with 40.5 million projected internal climate migrants, accounting for 1.8% of the total population.
Climate change is projected to drive 19.3 million people in North Africa, making up 9% of the total population, to migrate within their own countries.
Latin America could see 17.1 million internal climate migrants, or 2.6% of its population while this is estimated to be 5.1 million in Eastern Europe and the Central Asia region, equivalent to 2.3% of the total population.
- Urgent action could reduce internal climate migration by 80%
'Since 2018, the world has been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and a reversal of decades-long progress reducing poverty. At the same time, the impacts of climate change are increasingly visible. We have just lived through the warmest decade on record and are seeing extreme weather events around the world, with changes in the Earth's climate occurring in every region and across the whole climate system,' Juergen Voegele, vice president for Sustainable Development at the World Bank, was quoted as saying in the report.
'This projection is not cast in stone. If countries start now to reduce greenhouse gases, close development gaps, restore vital ecosystems, and help people adapt, internal climate migration could be reduced by up to 80 percent to 44 million people by 2050,' he said, highlighting the importance of taking urgent action.
The report also warned that in some places, questions of habitability will arise and hotspots of internal climate in-and-out migration could emerge as early as 2030 and grow and intensify by 2050, raising the need to integrate plausible migration scenarios in spatial development.
'The window to avert the conditions that lead to distress-driven internal climate migration is shrinking rapidly. Countries must come together and act decisively both to ensure that development is green, resilient, and inclusive and to sharply reduce global emissions, consistent with the Paris Agreement,' the report said.
The bank said if well managed, internal climate migration and associated shifts in population distribution can become part of an effective adaptation strategy, allowing people to rise out of poverty, build resilient livelihoods and improve living conditions.
The report counted the significant policy recommendations starting with cutting global greenhouse gases to reduce the climate pressures that drive climate migration, integrate climate migration into far-sighted green, resilient and inclusive development, planning for each phase of migration to ensure positive adaptation and investing in understanding the drivers of climate migration.
By Nuran Erkul Kaya