Migrations: environmental issues and demographic factors

Managing the effects of climate change on the lives of the world’s population is the global challenge of the 21st century. The unstable equilibrium of the ecosystem complicates the analysis of social risks generated by the intensive exploitation of the environment and by the climatic effects. According to UNEP, the United Nations Environment Agency, “the main social impact of climate change will probably be the increase in migratory phenomena and will perhaps represent the most important security challenge”. 24494-3x2-article620Geopolitical destabilizing factors: migration can aggravate conflicts in areas affected by long-standing disputes for the supply of natural resources and livelihoods. A study conducted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies identifies South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and Mediterranean Europe as the main areas affected by internal migration flows and extra-continental exodus. The long-term perspectives, observed in the UNIDSR report “The human rights of weather related disasters 1995-2015”, clarifies the link between the consequences of climate change and anthropic action: the monitoring shows that the heavy impact of floods, storms and droughts affects above all the most under-developed areas of the planet. Unequal access to natural resources and the incidence of meteorological events undermines the solidity of infrastructures and services essential for the population. In two decades, the impact of floods, in Asia alone, has stricken about 2.3 million people, with important consequences for mobility and economic productivity. Furthermore, the number of victims (almost 242,000), caused by natural disasters, has increased compared to the period 1975-1995. Most are resident in low-income countries (89%).


In the opening message at the COP23 in Bonn (2017), Pope Francis said: “We can not limit only to the economic and technological dimension: it is essential and necessary to carefully take into consideration the aspects and the ethical and social impacts of the new paradigm development and progress in the short, medium and long term”. Impact of anthropization, socio-economic inequality and high climate sensitivity are common elements in the most unstable geographical areas. The main researches estimate a number between 200 and 250 million “eco-refugees” by 2050. As explained by Alexandra Bilak, director of the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center: <<We must understand that without the right support and protection, a person who today is internally displaced, tomorrow could become a refugee, an asylum seeker or an international migrant>>.

migranti-climaThe latest GRID report (2017), outlines a map of displaced people within national borders. In 2016, around 24.2 million people have left their homes fleeing natural disasters: among the most affected states, many are suffering the old consequences of war conflicts, such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan (over 2 million) in the Middle East, while others, including China, India and Philippines (15.9 million), the heavy impact of natural disasters. Main problems, including both factors mentioned above, are found in Africa, <<as in the case of the Democratic Republic of Congo, which – says Bilak – shows how the failure to address the underlying causes of conflict and crisis then bring back to a cyclical reappearance of the displaced>>. Problematic the phenomenon of displaced for “development”, caused by the intensive exploitation of natural resources by the corporations, the pollution of water and soil and the expropriation of land for agriculture and livestock (land grabbing). Policies are needed that emphasizes Bilak, conflict <<international indifference, lack of accountability and the failure of states in protecting their people>>. The Geneva Convention (1951) does not recognize the legal status of refugees for those fleeing natural disasters and climatic adversities. The extension of humanitarian protection to environmental migrants divides policy makers and non-governmental organizations.cambiamenti_clima_migrazioni_1

Anote Tong, former president of Kiribati, shows skepticism about the solutions proposed so far to deal with environmental migration. <<The reality we face is that whatever we do to create more resiliency on our islands will still be unlikely to succeed in realizing an area able to accommodate the entire population, even considering a subsequent demographic increase>>. The effects of global warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions, largely due to human activity, are causing significant ice loss, resulting in an increase of the sea level at the melting ice caps. 499271418-kiribati-president-anote-tong-delivers-a-speech-during.jpg.CROP.promo-xlarge2<<The latest analysis reports have been clear – underlines Tong -, islands such as Kiribati, Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands and the Maldives, in the Indian Ocean, will be submerged by the end of the century>>. The agreement reached in COP21 in Paris (2015), which will become binding if ratified by at least 55 countries responsible for 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions, sets the goal of “limiting global warming to well below 2 ° C compared to pre-industrial levels”. The thermal imbalance forces people living in rural areas to migrate to urban centers: in the early years of the past decade, the food crisis in Zimbabwe, caused by scarce water reserves and persistent drought, has led some of the population ¼ (about 3 million people) to leave the countryside to move to South Africa. The complicated management of the massive inflow of foreign workers has exacerbated ethnic rivalries and widespread inequalities in the main sectors of the labor market, recording numerous incidents of discrimination and violence against the immigrant minority. Necessary therefore understand, through an integrated approach, the complexity of the phenomenon of migration in its causes, closely related to environmental risk factors.

images (1).pngArticle published on Affarinternazionali




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