Governments in Asia and the Pacific need to prepare for a large increase in climate-induced migration in the coming years, according to a forthcoming report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
Typhoons, cyclones, floods and drought are forcing more and more people to migrate. In the past year alone, extreme weather in Malaysia, Pakistan, the People's Republic of China, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka has caused temporary or longer term dislocation of millions. This process is set to accelerate in coming decades as climate change leads to more extreme weather, the ADB said.
"No international cooperation mechanism has been set up to manage these migration flows, and protection and assistance schemes remain inadequate, poorly coordinated, and scattered," the report states. "National governments and the international community must urgently address this issue in a proactive manner."
ADB expects to issue the report, Climate Change and Migration in Asia and the Pacific, in early March as part of a broader ADB project aimed at increasing awareness of, and enhancing regional preparedness for, migration driven by changing weather patterns.
The report highlights specific risks confronting climate change "hotspots", including megacities in coastal areas of Asia. These hotspots of climate-induced migration face pressure from swelling populations as rural people seek new lives in cities. The problem is compounded by greater dislocation of people caused by flooding and tropical storms.
Climate-induced migration will affect poor and vulnerable people more than others," said Bart W. Édes, Director of ADB's Poverty Reduction, Gender, and Social Development Division. "In many places, those least capable of coping with severe weather and environmental degradation will be compelled to move with few assets to an uncertain future. Those who stay in their communities will struggle to maintain livelihoods in risk-prone settings at the mercy of nature's whims."
On the positive side, the report says that if properly managed, climate-induced migration could actually facilitate human adaptation, creating new opportunities for dislocated populations in less vulnerable environments.