Climate migration crisis looms large
It is worrying to note that, according to a recent World Bank report Bangladesh is likely to have almost half the projected internal climate migrants of the entire South Asia region by 2050. The report mentioned that the country will have to shoulder burden of 19.9 million internal climate migrants by that time. In the first Groundswell report, Bangladesh was projected to account for a third of internal climate migrants in South Asia by 2050 in the negative reference scenario, due to its growing population and high vulnerability to climate change.
However, ensemble Groundswell reports show that by 2050, as many as 216 million people could be internal climate migrants across the six World Bank regions. The Sub-Saharan Africa could see as many as 85.7 million internal climate migrants; East Asia and the Pacific 48.4 million; South Asia 40.5 million; North Africa 19.3 million; Latin America 17.1 million; and Eastern Europe and Central Asia 5.1 million.
Undoubtedly, the report reflects the region's high vulnerability to climate change impacts. Particularly coastal and deltaic areas are facing sea-level rise and storm surges. Understandably, there is a strong reason to believe that climate migration in the country could outpace other internal migrations by 2050.
However, as an adverse impact of climate change, population density will reduce in coastal areas. And with rising sea-level augmented by storm surges, environmental condition would turn unliveable. Consequently, urban and coastal areas could experience slow growth--as these are the climate out-migration hotspots. Towns and cities will see unwarranted influx of people.
Under these circumstances, the need for both incremental and transformational approaches to build resilience to climate change in key sectors must be addressed. Specially, agriculture sector must be given priority to ensure food security. In addition, sustainable housing projects should be launched so that people can have necessary elements to survive in comparatively adverse climactic conditions.
Rather optimistically, the Bangladesh Delta Plan-2100 lays out a comprehensive strategy for managing risks in delta regions, including those from climate change. Bangladesh has also adopted a strategy to develop secondary cities and towns and make them hubs of innovation, providing new economic, education, and employment opportunities.
Proper implementation of sustainable development policy can reduce climate change impacts. Climate resilient policy in highly densely populated and vulnerable areas can be proved crucial. Bangladesh's Perspective Plan 2021-2041 factors in climate change as a driver of future migration and shifting population centres. It also recognises migration as a potential adaptation option for people living in the most vulnerable areas.
We hope that Bangladesh government will give due importance to the World Bank report on the climate migrants and will take precautionary measures to prevent a potential internal migration crisis.