By Baher Kamal
Imagine a world where 1 billion people suffer the impact of climate change, from droughts and / or floods, through extreme weather events, the destruction of natural resources, such as land, soil and water, to severe living conditions and famines.
Currently, projections vary between 25 million and 1 billion climate migrants by 2050, moving within their countries or crossing borders, permanently or temporarily, with 200 million being the most consensual estimate, according to a study carried out by the Institute for Human and Environmental Security of the United Nations University.
"That number is equivalent to the current estimate of international migrants around the world," he says.
Other specialized sources estimate that "there is one person displaced per second by a climate disaster". The Norwegian Refugee Council, based in Oslo, reported that in 2015 alone, more than 19.2 million people fled disasters in 113 countries.
In fact, "disasters displace three to 10 times more people than conflicts and wars," he said.
One person displaced per second
Climate change probably implies more frequent and severe natural hazards. The impact will be great, warns the humanitarian organization that offers assistance and aid to people forced to displace.
"On average, 26 million people are displaced every year by disasters such as floods and storms, that's one person per second"
For its part, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) also forecasts that there will be 200 million environmental migrants in 2050, moving within their countries or crossing borders. Many of them will be coastal towns.
IOM Director General William Lacy told IPS that political crises and natural disasters are the main causes of displacement today.
"We have never had so many complex humanitarian emergencies simultaneously, from West Africa to Asia, with few places in between that have no problems," he observed.
"We currently have 40 million forcibly displaced people and 20 million refugees, the highest number of people uprooted since the Second World War (1939-1945)," he said.
Another alert comes from the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), which estimates that some 135 million people could be displaced by this problem in 2045.
Up to 12 million fertile hectares are rendered unproductive each year due to desertification and drought alone, a missed opportunity to produce 20 million tons of grain, added the Bonn-based convention secretariat.
Meanwhile, the increase in droughts and flash floods, which are stronger, more frequent and widespread, destroy the land, the largest reservoir of fresh water, according to the UNCCD.
“Droughts kill more people than any other climate catastrophe, and more and more community conflicts arise over shortages. More than 1 billion people do not have access to drinking water and demand will increase 30 percent by 2030, he says. "
On the other hand, achieving sustainable energy for all is one of the greatest development challenges of the 21st century, he stresses.
“Research suggests that 1.4 billion people, more than 20 percent of the world's population, lack electricity, and that at least 2.7 billion, about 40 percent of all the Earth's inhabitants depend on the traditional use of electricity. biomass for cooking ”, he adds.
In short, land, water and energy are resources that are pillars for our survival and for sustainable development.
They “stay or fall together. To be sustainable, and in particular to reach poor rural populations, we need to improve supply, access and security of these three pillars, while supporting global climate ambitions, ”he adds.
Migrations, national security
Based on the study “From conflict to peacebuilding. The role of natural resources and the environment ”, carried out by the United Nations Environment Program in 2009, the UNCCD recalls that 40 percent of internal conflicts in the last 60 years are related to control and allocation of natural resources.
“Exposing more and more people to water scarcity and hunger facilitates the failure of fragile states and regional conflicts. Non-state groups take more and more advantage of large migratory flows and abandoned lands ”, he says.
When natural assets, such as land, are poorly managed, warns the UNCCD, violence can become the main means of controlling resources to remove natural assets from the hands of the legitimate government.
Meanwhile, the number of international migrants is increasing.
According to the 2015 International Migration Report, the number of migrants increased rapidly in the last 15 years, reaching 244 million people in 2015, up from 222 million in 2010 and 173 million in 2000.
The loss of arable land leads people to make risky decisions, warned the UNCCD. In rural areas, where people depend on scarce productive land, soil degradation is primarily responsible for emigration.
Africa is particularly susceptible as more than 90 percent of its economy depends on natural resources sensitive to climatic swings, such as subsistence agriculture that needs rain.
"Unless we change the way we manage the land, in the next 30 years we could leave 1 billion poor people or more with no choice but to fight or flee," he adds.
Migratory crisis in the key of neo-nationalism and apolarity
"What times will we live in that we must defend the obvious."Bertolt Brecht
Vector of transformation and emblematic manifestation of the globalized world, human migrations have been taking on a more compulsive and tragic expression in recent years. We are observing a growing trend in the police and security apparatuses of the nation statesi, with greater scales and intensities, particularly around the so-called western “fortresses” where the greatest degree of sharpening is synthesized. In one of the main migrant-receiving regions, in Europe, the migratory pressure has increased due to the growth in the flow of refugees since 2015, unleashing an alarming anti-migratory wave (but also signs of solidarity). In the United States, the new force that came to power at the end of 2016 is implementing a xenophobic policy that marks an unprecedented point of acceleration within a trend that had already been affirming since 2001. Some regions outside the western sphere, even stable regions give similar signals. Others mark a counter-trend, as for example in Africa or Latin America, and show voluntarism in favor of multilateral normsii. After all, it seems that the arrow of “migratory time” had turned backwards, to the middle of the last century, between the two great explosions of war, where an atmosphere of fear and exclusion reigned in the face of totalitarian and nationalist outbreaks. Beyond the hard facts of reality, how can we understand the direction taken by human mobility globally and regionally? What horizon can we glimpse?
Some numbers on migrations
An approximate total of one billion migrants is currently estimated, including 250 million transnational migrants, that is, 3.3% of the world population (mainly concentrated in 10 destination countries) and 750 million internal migrants, representing a total than 30% of the planet's workforce. 60% of migrations take place between countries of the same level of development, with a growing trend towards South-South migration and intra-regional migration. In 2016, there were 64.5 million forcibly displaced people in the world due to conflicts, multiple violence and natural disasters, including 17.1 million refugees in exile outside their country of origin. 90% of refugees are hosted in different countries of the global South, with Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran, Ethiopia, Jordan in the lead, while only one million people arrived at the gates of the European Shengen space (refugees represent 0.2% of the total population of the European Union; 6% of the global total of refugees are in Europe). One migrant out of five lives in the 20 main cities on the planet. Migrant remittances reached a volume of 450 billion dollars in 2015 (the middle and lower classes of India, China, the Philippines, Mexico, Pakistan, Nigeria, Egypt are the main recipients of these remittances), that is, 3 times more than the volume of public development aid. The year 2015 was the deadliest year for migrants according to official IOM statisticsiii, 5,400 dead and missing globally (including 3,771 people in the Mediterranean). Figures from the University of Zacatecas in Mexico give a much higher number: approximately 7,000 disappeared in Mexico alone during 2015 (with an estimated 70,000 disappeared in the last ten years from 2006 to 2017).
This brief panorama, obviously irreducible to the infinite variety of contexts, does not mark a really new panorama, but it does suggest a point of boom and inflection that is currently often referred to as a “migratory crisis”. Although the affirmation that migrations constitute a cornerstone of the human being, of universal rightsv and of globalization is gaining groundiv, in practice they have always been a disturbing force of social and political structures, marking moments of crisis, expansion or ebb. Angela Merkel illustrated this several times when referring to an “existential test” of the political systems regarding the current migratory pressure in Europe.Ecoportal.net