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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
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
Climate Change – Its Impacts
  • 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
climate change is a development issue
Climate Change is a Development Issue
  • Developing countries are already being affected
  • The poorest stands to suffer the earliest and the most
  • MDG gains are at risks
climate change and the south
Climate Change and the South
  • 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
climate change and the south5
Climate Change and the South
  • 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!
developing countries most at risk 6 climate threats
Developing Countries Most At Risk: 6 Climate Threats

Low Income

Source: World Bank

Middle Income

bangladesh climate change scenario
Bangladesh: 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
bangladesh climate change scenario9
Bangladesh: 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
how to contain this common crisis
How to Contain this Common Crisis?
  • 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
climate change and migration issues
Climate Change and 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
some estimates of displacement
Some Estimates of Displacement
  • 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.”
key elements of environment climate migrant or refugees
Key Elements of Environment/Climate Migrant or Refugees
  • Involuntary nature
  • Sudden displacement
  • Lack of preparation
  • No resources
  • People displaced are poor and need urgent support and assistance
environmental factors important trigger
Environmental Factors – 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
climate induced displacement and migration in bangladesh
Climate-induced Displacement and Migration in Bangladesh
  • 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
climate induced displacement and migration in bangladesh16
Climate-induced Displacement and Migration in Bangladesh
  • 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
cross border migration and responses
Cross border Migration 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
cross border migration and responses18
Cross border Migration 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
climate change and saarc
Climate Change and 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
is migration a solution
Is Migration a Solution?
  • 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
conclusions
Conclusions
  • 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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