At the World Bank yesterday, I learned about this impressive project
. While there are a lot of papers to choose from at this website, the "big picture" is sketched below in the report's Executive Summary
The following is a direct quote (you will note that some "fs" are missing, this is a very strange feature of cut and paste):
"This report considers migration in the context of environmental change over the next 50 years.
The scope of this report is international: it examines global migration trends, but also internal migration
trends particularly within low-income countries, which are often more important in this context.
The report has the following key conclusions:
Environmental change will affect migration now and in the future, specifically through
its inluence on a range of economic, social and political drivers which themselves affect
migration. However, the range and complexity of the interactions between these drivers
means that it will rarely be possible to distinguish individuals for whom environmental
factors are the sole driver (‘environmental migrants’). Nonetheless there are potentially grave
implications of future environmental change for migration, for individuals and policy makers alike,
requiring a strategic approach to policy which acknowledges the opportunities provided by
migration in certain situations.
Powerful economic, political and social drivers mean that migration is likely to continue
regardless of environmental change. People are as likely to migrate to places of environmental
vulnerability as from these places. For example, compared to 2000, there may be between 114
and 192 million additional people living in loodplains in urban areas in Africa and Asia by 2060,
in alternative scenarios of the future.This will pose a range of challenges to policy makers.
The impact of environmental change on migration will increase in the future. In particular,
environmental change may threaten people’s livelihoods, and a traditional response is to migrate.
Environmental change will also alter populations’ exposure to natural hazards, and migration is, in
many cases, the only response to this. For example, 17 million people were displaced by natural
hazards in 2009 and 42 million in 2010 (this number also includes those displaced by geophysical
The complex interactions of drivers can lead to different outcomes, which include migration
and displacement. In turn, these types of outcomes can pose more ‘operational’ challenges
or more ‘geopolitical’ challenges.There are powerful linkages between them. Planned and
well-managed migration (which poses operational challenges) can reduce the chance of later
humanitarian emergencies and displacement.
Environmental change is equally likely to make migration less possible as more probable. This
is because migration is expensive and requires forms of capital, yet populations who experience
the impacts of environmental change may see a reduction in the very capital required to enable
Consequently, in the decades ahead, millions of people will be unable to move away from locations in which they are extremely vulnerable to environmental change. To the
international community, this ‘trapped’ population is likely to represent just as important a policy
concern as those who do migrate. Planned and well-managed migration can be one important
solution for this population of concern.
Preventing or constraining migration is not a ‘no risk’ option. Doing so will lead to increased
impoverishment, displacement and irregular migration in many settings, particularly in low
elevation coastal zones, drylands and mountain regions. Conversely, some degree of planned and
proactive migration of individuals or groups may ultimately allow households and populations to
remain in situ for longer."