Climate change cross border migration and regional conflicts risks and strategies for bangladesh
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Climate Change, Cross border Migration and Regional Conflicts : Risks and Strategies for Bangladesh Mohammad Zaman, PhD Social Policy/Development Specialist & Executive Director, Bangladesh Calling for Climate Justice Climate Change – Its Impacts

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Climate change cross border migration and regional conflicts risks and strategies for bangladesh l.jpg
Climate Change, Cross border Migration and Regional Conflicts : Risks and Strategies for Bangladesh

Mohammad Zaman, PhD

Social Policy/Development Specialist

&

Executive Director,

Bangladesh Calling for Climate Justice


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Climate Change – Its Impacts Conflicts :

  • Climate change is one of the greatest environmental,social and economic threats of our time

  • No debates – it is over and real

  • It is already happening

    • Glaciers are melting

    • Sea level is rising

    • Cyclones, tornados, floods, droughts are becoming more frequent and intense as well

  • Many say that climate change will get worse before it gets better


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    Climate Change is a Development Issue Conflicts :

    • Developing countries are already being affected

    • The poorest stands to suffer the earliest and the most

    • MDG gains are at risks


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    Climate Change and the South Conflicts :

    • Differential Impacts – felt and perceived differently by people

    • Europeans/North American may find ski holidays a thing of the past

    • People in the South – those in Bangladesh, Maldives, Sri Lanka and many coastal/low lying island nations are on the brink of disasters


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    Climate Change and the South Conflicts :

    • Island countries like

      • Maldives,

      • Solomon Island,

      • Tuvalu, and

      • Kiribati are shopping for land in Australia/New Zealand to move all of their people

  • Sea level rise will inundate and displace millions of people in the future

  • It is the poor/vulnerable who are at great risks everywhere

  • Changing climate is changing our lives – perhaps for ever!


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    Developing Countries Most At Risk: Conflicts : 6 Climate Threats

    Low Income

    Source: World Bank

    Middle Income


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    Bangladesh: Conflicts : Climate Change Scenario

    • Bangladesh is on the brink of disaster

    • Most densely populated deltaic country with low lying coastal zone

    • About 23%of the country’s area is vulnerable due to sea level rise

    • If the water level rises by one meter, 30 million people will be displaced by 2030


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    Bangladesh: Conflicts : Climate Change Scenario

    • Northwest will be affected by drought – indeed, already is

    • Agricultural production will reduce by 40% by 2050 – impact on food security

    • Fishery and forestry will be affected

    • Wide ranging adverse impacts on human health and well-being

    • A serious challenge to development and poverty reduction


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    How to Contain this Common Crisis? Conflicts :

    • Provided a broad overview of the impacts of climate change on nearly all aspects of life in Bangladesh

    • Bangladesh can’t run away – have to live with it – adapt as necessary

    • Adaptation won’t be cheap – involves housing, shelter, alternative livelihood, greener development options

    • Focus on one important aspect

      • Displacement, migration – including cross-border migration

      • Raise awareness about “environmental” migrants or “climate refugees” in the region

      • How and why a new approach to cross-border/international migration is necessary

      • Develop a framework for recognition of environmental migrants


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    Climate Change and Conflicts : Migration Issues

    • Debates on terminology/definitions of “internally displaced people”, “environmental” or “climate” refugee

    • Can environmental factors be recognized as a root cause of migration?

    • Should climate change induced migration be recognized?

    • Who is responsible for resettlement of environmentally displaced people?

    • New interest among scholars on environmental induced migration, particularly associated with climate change


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    Some Estimates of Displacement Conflicts :

    • In Bangladesh, 12-15 million people have been displaced by flood and erosion in recent decades (Vedantam 2009)

    • In Philippines, over 4 million people have moved from lowlands to highlands as a result of deforestation ((Vedantam 2009)

    • 162 million people at risks due to sea level rise by 2050 (Myers 2002)

    • An estimated 200 million people will become permanent “climate refugees” by 2050 (Stern 2006)

    • 50 million environmentally displaced people by 2010 (UNFCC 2007)

    • These numbers are simply staggering

    • IPCC report states: “The greatest single impact of climate change may be on human migration.”


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    Key Elements of Environment/Climate Migrant or Refugees Conflicts :

    • Involuntary nature

    • Sudden displacement

    • Lack of preparation

    • No resources

    • People displaced are poor and need urgent support and assistance


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    Environmental Factors – Conflicts : Important Trigger

    • Despite the debate and conceptual fuzziness over definitions – it is important to remember that

      • Environmental factors are an important trigger

      • Widespread and recurrent displacement

      • Homeless and often unable to return

  • No confusion on the “risks” of climate change migrants

  • We need to understand that the world is facing major environmental changes

  • Disasters like flood, cyclone might become the norm and not exception

  • It only rational to consider environmental or climate refugees as migrants


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    Climate-induced Displacement and Migration in Bangladesh Conflicts :

    • Over 100,000 people are displaced by riverbank erosion

    • Floods and droughts make many more

    • Most displaced migrate internally

    • Dhaka - already overpopulated (12 million) is the major destination


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    Climate-induced Displacement and Migration in Bangladesh Conflicts :

    • Most migrants end up in slums – currently over 40% of the city population

    • No infrastructure or resources to support millions of climate-induced refugees annually

    • By 2030 – Dhaka will have 23 million, second largest in the world

    • The poor and the vulnerable are subjected to further social and economic distress and deprivation


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    Cross border Migration Conflicts : and Responses

    • Many climate-induced displaced families from the border areas have moved to India, Nepal, often to Burma

    • This cross border movement has largely been influenced by

      • Proximity to border

      • Easy crossing (at night by agents)

      • Social network and historical connection – most migrants know some one at the destinations

      • Land availability (although very marginal, in chars - often uncultivable in remote areas, but provides a living)

  • Cross border migration to India has become a big political issues


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    Cross border Migration Conflicts : and Responses

    • India claims that there are millions of illegal Bangladeshis in India

    • Ongoing movements against “Bangladeshis” in Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh

    • India built border fences with Bangladesh despite opposition from Bangladesh

    • The climate-induced migrants are considered “illegal” eco-migrant

    • Political tensions caused by cross border migration

    • Further increase in “illegal” migration will surely lead to conflicts across international borders


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    Climate Change and Conflicts : SAARC

    • In July 2008, SAARC established a Committee to work on climate change mitigations and capacity building

    • To date, no attention to environmental impacts on cross border migration, climate refugees

    • SARRC should work together to understand the cause-effects and dynamics of cross border migration

    • Raising awareness of environmental migration in SAARC work

    • Bangladesh should raise this due to past history of migration


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    Is Migration a Solution? Conflicts :

    • Internal migration to urban areas will be predominant

    • Cross border regional migration will likely continue

    • International migration may slowly rise

    • Ultimately, migration is not the solution – can’t move the country

    • Adaptation and local capacity building – disaster management, evacuation, warning, shelter, alternative livelihoods – are way forward


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    Conclusions Conflicts :

    • Need to recognize migration or population mobility as one of the adaptive mechanisms to climate change

    • Enhancing awareness of environmental migration regionally and internationally

    • Need for further understanding of environmental or climate migrant issues

    • International/UN bodies should develop framework for recognition of environmental or climate migrants.


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