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. The bank said it expects this process to accelerate in coming decades as climate change leads to more extreme weather.
"No international co-operation 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."
Édes recently sketched a four-part scenario for Asian hotspots:
- 1. Climate change will increase extreme weather events, causing injuries and loss of life, water contamination, infectious diseases, food shortages, and mental health problems associated with disaster and tragedy.
- 2. During drought and heavy rainfall, a reduction in crop yield and subsistence agriculture leads to malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies.
- 3. An increase in the number of very hot days in large cities will exacerbate urban air pollution, while forest fires and dust storms affect air quality over broad areas, both rural and urban.
- 4. Vector-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue are highly correlated with temperatures and rainfall patterns. Warmer temperature will increase the geographical habitat of vectors of diseases, such as mosquitoes and rodents.
The ADB project, Policy Options to Support Climate-induced Migration, is the first international initiative that aims to generate policy and financing recommendations to address climate-induced migration in Asia and the Pacific.