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Special Report: What will become of Bangladesh’s climate migrants?

25 August, 2017
Megan Darby (Climate Home)

After cyclone Aila hit the coast of Bangladesh in 2009, migration has become the only option for many families whose livelihoods where impaired by the resulting floodings. In this special report, personal stories from Khulna give an insight into how vulnerable populations are affected by climate impacts.

“If there had not been such a big cyclone, I would not have moved to Dhaka.”

When Cyclone Aila hit the coast of Bangladesh in May 2009, water swelled over embankments along the Kholpetua river. The home Sirajul Islam shared with his wife and four children in Kolbari village was flooded, along with the single acre he used to raise shrimp. They left for Shyamnagar town, 15km away, where for four months he made 300-400 taka a day ($4-5) driving a rented motorbike. When the floodwater subsided, his field was too salty for shrimp. Village buildings were flattened and there was no fresh water to drink. So in 2011, the family went to seek their fortune in the capital Dhaka. “The cyclone had broken my economical backbone by destroying everything,” says Islam. “If there had not been such a big cyclone, I would not have moved to Dhaka.”

Bangladesh’s prime minister Sheikh Hasina has told the UN that a one-metre rise in sea level – a plausible scenario this century – would submerge a fifth of the country and turn 30 million people into “climate migrants”. Islam shows off a set of deer antlers, a trophy from hunting in the Sundarbans, across the river. Most of the household income is from selling fish, crab and honey gathered in the mangroves – supplemented from his eldest daughter’s wages at a garment factory in Chittagong. If there were to be another cyclone, Islam says “I would fight” to stay. It is not likely to get any easier, though. Sea levels are set to rise, compounding the problem of salt intrusion into groundwater. Tropical cyclones are expected to get more intense and destructive with global warming. In combination, they raise the risk of another devastating storm surge. 

Over the past two decades, Bangladesh’s rural population has been pouring into its cities. A 2014 slum census found the number of people living on the margins of cities had doubled to 2.2 million since 1997. Meanwhile, the population in southwestern coastal regions is stagnating. A smaller, but significant, number of displaced people cross borders, which is where it becomes a matter of at least regional, if not international concern. Up to 20 million Bangladeshis are said to be living illegally in neighbouring India. A militarised fence along 70% of the 4,000 kilometre frontier sends an unwelcoming signal. Still, people find ways to evade the patrols, typically by boat across the rivers.

Zainab Begum (pictured), a 40-year old woman collecting water from Gabura village pond, across the river from Kolbari, has two younger sisters working as waste pickers in Tamil Nadu, a southern Indian state. With their families, they have crossed the border illegally several times. It is a risky business: one got caught and was badly beaten by Indian border guards, detained for a week before she could bribe her way out. There was little to keep them in Gabura, one of the worst hit areas by Aila. Not a single house was left standing, says Begum, a fierce note in her voice. The levee that was supposed to keep the river out trapped a layer of sludgy, salty water on the land for three whole years. She lived in a makeshift house on the embankment; others with more resources left permanently. Eventually, the government helped them rebuild. A three-storey cyclone shelter stands proud at the heart of the village. But land that was previously good for one rice crop a year became too salty: now it is all shrimp.

In this battered economy, Ziaur Rahman is trying to make a living teaching English and maths to private students. With a degree from Khulna University, he shows more awareness than most about the global trends affecting his country. He tells Climate Home in English: “I know about climate change. When climate change in this place, we are not happy.” The outlook is not all bleak. Just as farmers adapted to fattening shrimp, now some have turned to crab, which can tolerate higher salinity. They do not eat it round here: it is “haram” (forbidden) for the Muslim majority and at 250 taka ($3) apiece in the market, beyond most budgets. But there is strong demand from China and Malaysia. A small plant in Kolbari packs the shellfish for export. The scale of migration from vulnerable areas will depend on the success of these adaptations, as well as the severity of climate change impacts.

 

How many?

Prime minister Hasina’s forecast of 30 million climate migrants is widely disputed, inside and outside Bangladesh. Analysis by Climate Central, a US-based science outreach organisation, paints a less dramatic picture. It finds fewer than a million Bangladeshis living within one metre above sea level. Under five metres, the number is still less than 30m. “It is a troublingly large difference,” says Ben Strauss, a biologist by background who leads Climate Central’s sea level work. The government estimate has been in currency for at least seven years, its source apparently lost along the way. An official in the environment department could not say exactly where it came from, suggesting it was a rough assumption based on the population of 19 coastal districts. Climate Central’s “Surging Seas” model is more transparent and there are identifiable reasons why it might err on the conservative side.

Firstly, Strauss explains, they use land elevation data from NASA’s Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM). It is the best publicly available dataset for Bangladesh, but it has limitations. The satellites cannot tell the difference between the tops of buildings or trees and the soil. In places where there is more precise light detection data to compare with, SRTM has been found to overstate the height of the land on average by more than 2 metres. Secondly, it represents a narrow definition of those affected by sea level rise. Surging Seas maps out homes that will fall below the high tide mark or be exposed to annual flooding. But a household does not have to be under water for its members to feel the impacts of the creeping tide. All along the coast, saltwater intrusion is hitting crop yields, contaminating drinking water and eroding infrastructure. Other things being equal – and the amount of freshwater India draws from upriver plays a major role – sea level rise will push salinity further inland. (It is worth mentioning that rising seas are not the only climate change impact Bangladesh faces, just the most predictable. Earlier this year, abnormally heavy pre-monsoon rainfall wiped out 2m tonnes worth of rice crops in the northeast. Flooding, drought and ocean acidification are rising threats.)

The flipside is that Surging Seas does not account for the thousands of kilometres of embankments that surround coastal settlements. Indeed, the ability and willingness to defend these homes may be more pertinent than the technical accuracy of measuring equipment. Veteran Bangladeshi climate researcher Ahsan Uddin Ahmed is sceptical of mass migration predictions. Accepting that salinity is going to push northwards and some crops will become unviable, he nonetheless places great faith in the capacity of Bangladeshis to adapt. “Salinity is no longer a hopeless scenario,” he tells Climate Home from the office in his Dhaka apartment, expounding knowledgeably on mango orchards, pond sand filters and capillary action. “Through innovation and research, the tide has been diverted in a different direction.”

The government is adding 30cm to the height of embankments, he says: “There is no reason we would not be able to match up with the gradually rising sea level. Our economy will allow further protection.” The experience of communities like Kolbari and Gabura shows the fragility of such gains. For all their ingenuity adopting shrimp cultivation, a tropical storm dealt a huge setback. At category one, Aila was not even an exceptionally strong cyclone. And traditional defences may be counterproductive. The levee that was supposed to protect Gabura became a liability when the floodwater got in and could not get out again.

A 2015 study concluded that embankments do more harm than good, causing the land to subside. Recovering from such crises is putting a drag on Bangladesh’s economic growth, with the Asian Development Bank forecasting annual climate losses by 2050 will amount to 2% of GDP. But none of these vulnerabilities, real as they are, lead inevitably to migration. Alex Randall, migration expert at UK-based NGO Climate Outreach, argues it is futile to try and quantify climate migration. “Large numbers of people are already moving from rural areas in Bangladesh into cities. It makes more sense to see climate change as a force that adds to this existing trend, rather than trying to pick out a number of people who will move because of climate change,” he says.

“The ways in which climate change will re-shape patterns of rural to urban migration in Bangladesh are not straightforward.”

In some cases, climate impacts may even prevent people moving, he adds, as they become too poor to make the leap. “The ways in which climate change will re-shape patterns of rural to urban migration in Bangladesh are not straightforward.” But if the medium-term prognosis is not as clear-cut as official rhetoric implies, the ultimate destination of human-caused global warming is sobering. Surging Seas’ “seeing choices” interactive shows that 2C temperature rise – the upper limit countries have agreed to try and stay below – is consistent with 4.7m of sea level rise. That turns most of southwestern Bangladesh – and the city of Chittagong in the east – blue on the map. Unchecked pollution locks in sea level rise that ultimately swamps half the country, including its three biggest cities: Dhaka, Chittagong and Khulna. The timescale for this could be anywhere from 200 to 2,000 years. “It is very plausible that the amount of carbon we put in the atmosphere between today and 2050 will determine whether Bangladesh can even exist in the far future,” says Strauss. “Our emissions pathway does not make a big difference for mid-century sea level rise. It makes a consequential difference by the end of the century and it makes an existential difference after that for Bangladesh.”

 

Where will they go?

Travelling inland from the salt-soaked coast, the trees get taller, the cows wandering across the road fatter, the crops more diverse: jute, banana, bitter gourd. Every field and pond is in use; there is seasonal work to be found, but no permanent home for the dispossessed. Nazzma Begum came from Bhola, on the coast, as an 18-month-old baby. Now 32 and a widow, Dhaka is her only home: her parents lost everything to river erosion. She shares a single room with her two children in the generically named “boat ghat” slum and makes a living cooking and cleaning for wealthier families. City life has its upsides: Begum loves the cinema, naming her elder son after film star Shakib Khan. An electric light and ceiling fan is included in the 1,800 taka ($22) monthly rent. But her flimsy shack lets mosquitoes in and she is suffering from the chikungunya virus – a disease that causes severe joint pain. Her neighbour Mohamed Miraz, also from Bhola, came to Dhaka after one too many fishing nets came up empty. If he can save enough, he will go back and buy land. A single acre costs as much as he earns in a thousand days pulling a rickshaw. The struggle to escape poverty is relentless.

The population of Dhaka has roughly doubled in 20 years to 19 million, its rapid growth not matched by its planners. Ponds and canals have been concreted over with no regard for the natural drainage they provided. Monsoon rainbursts frequently submerge streets in knee-high water. Climate change will only intensify the pressures that drive people to the capital. If the slums are claustrophobic, the alternative – leaving the country – is daunting. India is welcoming enough to middle class Bangladeshis doing their Eid shopping, but an armed border patrol is there to deter unskilled labourers. Catching a plane to a wealthier nation is an outrageously expensive gamble. For every success story, there are cautionary tales of exploitation.

The UN Population Division estimates the Bangladeshi diaspora at 7.2 million, which is almost certainly an understatement. India alone claims to have 20 million Bangladeshis living within its borders, most of them illegally, although that could equally be an exaggeration. Awareness of climate migration is well established at an international level. “As regions become unliveable, more and more people will be forced to move from degraded lands to cities and to other nations,” said UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres in a speech on climate change.

Plans to deal with it are embryonic, however. A task force on displacement under the auspices of UN climate talks had its first meeting in May. Its work plan grapples with patchy data and institutional clashes. There is no ready source of financial support directed at climate migrants, nor do they have any protected status under international law if they cross borders. In most cases, climate migrants are not easy to distinguish from economic migrants: they arrive looking for work. The welcome they receive hinges more on the value of their labour than any duty of care to the climate-afflicted.

In Khulna, the third largest city in Bangladesh and regional capital of the southwest, technical education was as important as buildings in accommodating the people who arrived after Cyclone Aila and myriad smaller crises. A pilot offering vocational training – phone repair, welding, sewing – to new arrivals recently marked its first 25 graduates. Eight of the city’s 278 slums are in line for infrastructure upgrades, funded by German development banks. “It is not enough,” admits city mayor Moniruzzaman Moni, holding court at his “club” one evening.

“A large number of people, they are moving to Malaysia, India, Pakistan and the Middle East. These are climate-affected people.“

At between 2 and 4 metres above sea level, enmeshed in the Ganges-Brahmaputra river delta, Khulna is only marginally safer than the coastal villages. When heavy rainfall coincides with the high tide, water washes through the streets. “Khulna is one of the most vulnerable cities in Asia,” says Moni. “This is because of climate change. Fifty years ago, the situation was not like this but now it is changed.” As though to demonstrate, during the half-hour audience rain lashes down and a large puddle forms outside the door. Bricks are laid out to step across to dry road. Moni hopes that his grandchild will be able to stay in Khulna, where his family has lived for generations. But it will require “major projects” to keep the rising sea at bay. Meanwhile, he cannot deny the trend for outward migration. “A large number of people, they are moving to Malaysia, India, Pakistan and the Middle East. These are climate-affected people. Officially, we have the number, but unofficially more and more people are going.”

[This report originally appeared on climatechangenews.com]

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Adaptation & Resilience

All countries will need to adapt to some of the environmental, social and economic impacts of climate change that are already unavoidable. Food security, livelihoods, water resource availability and public health are some affected areas. People living in poverty are more vulnerable, having a lower capacity to adapt. Thus, it is essential to promote resilience building. The adaptation and resilience aspects need to be mainstreamed into planning by policy makers and the private sector as well as integrated into development strategies.

Biodiversity & Livelihoods

Nature protection is most sustainable if it essentially contributes to the long-term stability of human needs. Today many regions around the world are confronted with increasing destruction of the natural foundations of life. The consequences of wide-ranging resource destruction are no longer regionally limited, but rather represent a global threat. Those affected are mainly rural populations, who find the sources of their income and the foundations of their way of life swept away. The depletion and destruction of natural resources goes hand in hand with decreasing agricultural yields and increasing poverty, which in turn forces the affected populations to deplete the remaining resources.

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Capacity Building

On the one hand, conflicts are caused by structural factors, such as economic and social inequality or environmental destruction. On the other hand, conflicts are fuelled by a lack of democratic structures, deficient mechanisms of non-violent conflict settlement, inadequate rule of law, the destruction of social and cultural identity and the disregard of human rights. Against this backdrop, development policies have been dedicated to a broad concept of security, which comprises political, economic, ecological and social stability. As a consequence, development cooperation agencies and actors have developed a broad spectrum of approaches for conflict prevention and transformation as well as for sustainable use of natural resources.

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Civil Society

Civil society is the first victim of environmental pollution, under-development and conflicts. Economically disadvantaged and politically marginalized population groups are particularly affected by violent conflicts as well as increasing resource degradation. Simultaneously, civil society is a fundamental pillar for implementing sustainable development. It contributes in many ways to strengthening conflict prevention and plays a significant role in the peaceful and democratic development of states. It must be supported to strengthen civil rights, adherence to human rights in general and democratic participation.

Climate Change

Climate change resulting from the emission of greenhouse gases represents one of the vital challenges for international environmental policy. Flooding, droughts, shifting of climate zones and increasingly frequent and intense extreme weather events will have serious economic and social consequences for entire regions. The climate problem is also directly linked to the question of future energy generation.

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Climate Diplomacy

To address the challenges posed by climate change, a new profile of climate diplomacy is evolving. This utilises a full range of policies, including development cooperation, conflict prevention efforts, and humanitarian assistance, in addition to more traditional measures of climate change adaptation and mitigation. Moving from a risk analysis of climate-related threats to well-timed preventive action requires a greater commitment to integrating climate change concerns into development, foreign, and security policies. Examples include strengthening diplomatic networks, building new alliances with partners, and raising awareness – not only of potentially negative climate change impacts, but also of opportunities to embark on a sustainable transformation of our societies.

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Co-Benefits

Climate action entails an array of economic, social, political and environmental co-benefits. It provides an opportunity for economic growth and new jobs. Many investments can take into account climate considerations without becoming more costly. Further important co-benefits include: improved energy security, less local air and water pollution, health benefits as well as ecosystem and biodiversity protection.

Conflict Transformation

In order to overcome the structural causes of violent conflicts and thus bring about an improvement in the framework conditions for peaceful and fair development, it is essential to have long term and broadly planned peace development and peace advancement. Various governmental and non-governmental, national and international actors and groups are involved in these processes.

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Development

Climate change and development are inextricably linked. Climate change endangers the development agenda and has the potential to reverse development goals. Furthermore, successful mitigation of climate change heavily depends on development choices around the world. Therefore, development strategies need to be climate-compatible to provide long-term success, and there are viable policy options that support this compatibility. Many mitigation and adaptation activities can present development opportunities to developing countries and avoid the lock-in to environmentally damaging technologies.

Early Warning & Risk Analysis

The reasons for the development and escalation of conflicts and the incidence of risks are multifaceted and complex. Simultaneously, the assessment of the specific causes in the form of risk and conflict analyses can contribute to a better understanding of these processes and make it possible to provide warning of negative developments, or ideally help prevent them. In the context of natural resource use, risks and conflicts have gained increasing attention in the past years. The debate on possible future water wars is merely one example.

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Energy

The well-being of individuals, communities and nations depends on the availability of energy resources. The gap between energy supply and demand appears to be growing, making the world vulnerable to serious economic shocks. At the same time, the burning of fossil fuels causing climate change is one of the vital challenges of international environmental policy. So far, only rudimentary approaches exist for shaping climate and energy security in a sustainable way. The components of a strategy that can contribute to reducing vulnerabilities related to climate change and energy policy include a greater role for renewable energies, the improvement of energy efficiency and a stronger decentralisation of energy supply.

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Environment & Migration

The economic, social and environmental consequences of climate change aggravate the breakdown of eco-system-dependent livelihoods and are likely to become dominant drivers of long-term migration. Natural disasters already cause massive shorter-term displacement and the number of temporarily displaced people is likely to further increase with climate change. For vulnerable populations in vulnerable regions, such as the Sahel zone or the Ganges delta, migration often becomes the sole survival strategy. In order to address climate-related displacement and migration successfully, knowledge of effective adaptation and an improved understanding of how environmental change affects human mobility is essential. 

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Finance

Climate finance, from all sources, plays a key role in supporting and enabling adaptation and mitigation action as well as climate and energy innovation. The Paris Agreement ensured that the Green Climate Fund and the Global Environment Facility are at the core of climate finance architecture as entities entrusted with the operation of the Financial Mechanism of the UNFCCC. Increasing climate finance from all relevant public and private sources is crucial. Furthermore, much needs to be done to redirect finance flows to sustainable paths, e.g. reducing fossil fuel subsidies, introducing maritime and air transportation taxes. The conditions for green investment in developing countries should also be improved.

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Forests are disappearing at an alarming rate. Competition for forest resources triggers, exacerbates, or finances numerous crises and conflicts in tropical developing countries. Illegal logging and timber trade foster instability and sometimes violent conflict by strengthening illegal and armed groups, increasing corruption and exacerbating use and claim conflicts among local communities, the state and the business sector. Forests are a vital resource to poor people but they can also become areas of conflict. Sustainable management of forest resources is therefore key to preventing violent conflict over and within forests.

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Gender

Gender plays an important role as a category of conflict for many reasons. The interlinkages between gender, environment and conflicts are complex and much research is still needed. Existing insights suggest that conflicts may worsen gender inequalities that existed before the outbreak of violence. The unequal distribution of land property rights in many parts of the world serves as an example. Moreover, women (and children) are among those most affected by both violent conflict and natural disasters. At the same time, women carry much of the burden of trying to implement rehabilitation measures after crisis events.

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Land & Food

Increasing water scarcity, desertification and crop failures due to extreme weather events are becoming more and more of a threat to global food production. While the world’s population continues to grow rapidly, food production is unable to keep pace. Due to the global food crisis in 2008, the number of hungry people reached the symbolic one billion threshold for the first time – corresponding to about 16 percent of world population. Food insecurity may be a consequence or cause of conflicts. Violent conflicts often lead to the destruction of agricultural infrastructure and means of production, as well as to the displacement of local communities.

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In the past, the discovery and tapping of valuable or strategic resources like valuable minerals, oil and natural gas, particularly in developing and emerging countries, has often led to large scale environmental contamination and negative development. The "resource curse" of some countries shows that the wealth from resource yields is frequently unfairly distributed; instead of serving development it advanced the formation of corrupt elites and in some cases even led to conflicts and civil wars. Measures in various sectors and at all levels are important in order to use the potential of these natural resources in a manner that is sustainable and prevents conflicts.

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Private Sector

The spread of violent conflict not only affects people but also companies located in such regions. Destruction of investments and infrastructure, collapse of markets and trade partnerships, flight and expulsion of employees are phenomena of conflicts and environment-induced crises that directly affect companies in unstable regions. Almost all branches of the economy thus have a clear interest in a stable and peaceful environment for their activities. Conversely, the business sector plays an important role in the interaction of economic growth, social development and a healthy environment, all of which can advance peace and sustainable development. 

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Security

Environmental issues have a significant security dimension. Access to, and overuse of, natural resources often play a key role in civil wars or other forms of internal domestic conflict. This is compounded by climate change and environmental degradation. Climate change is now widely recognised as a non-traditional, risk-multiplying threat that will have increasing security impacts. Key risks with possible implications for human and national security include water scarcity, food crises, natural disasters, and displacement. More preventive diplomacy and advocacy is needed to address the strategic implications of climate and environmental change.

Sustainable Transformation

Sustainable Transformation allows societies to profit from a growing, environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive economy – especially in emerging and developing countries. This requires a higher up-front investment, but the benefits of a sustainable transformation in the medium and long term are significant. For instance, energy cost savings and reducing the impact of price volatility offer major incentives for deploying renewable energies and promoting energy efficiency. Such benefits exist in all key sectors of the economy.

Technology & Innovation

Innovations and technologies are already readily available and affordable but their global diffusion and uptake remains a challenge. Innovation and technology are crucial to achieving ambitious climate change mitigation and adaptation targets. However, research and development often do not receive appropriate public support. Developing countries can leapfrog high-carbon industrialisation phases by adopting, deploying and improving existing innovations and technologies. For this, it is essential to minimise financial, administrative and political barriers.

Water

The availability of freshwater resources in sufficient quantity and quality is essential for the preservation of human health and sound ecosystems. The use of water resources is also vital, however, for economic development: whether for agriculture, industrial production or for electricity generation. The world's freshwater resources are distributed very unevenly in terms of geography and seasons. In addition, water shortage is becoming more prevalent in several regions due to population growth, economic development, urbanisation and increasing environmental pollution. Thus, water resources can hold potential for conflicts between parties who have different interests and needs.

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Asia

The environment in Asia is already under tremendous pressure as a result of the unsustainable use of land, forests, water and even air in many regions. Climate change will only exacerbate these challenges. Rising sea levels will likely endanger densely populated areas, changes in the monsoon patterns can strongly impact agriculture, melting glaciers will increase long-term water scarcity, and extreme weather events such as heavy rainfall and cyclones can pose further hazards.

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Central America & Caribbean

Natural disasters and water scarcity are key challenges for most of Central America and the Caribbean. These challenges will become even more pronounced as the climate changes. Weak resource and disaster risk management and land disputes pose additional security challenges for large parts of the region. Several countries of Central America and the Caribbean have limited adaptive capacities as they face political instability caused by high social inequality, crime, corruption, and intra-state conflicts.

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Europe

As one of the most developed and most densely populated regions in the world, Europe makes heavy use of its resources, resulting in difficult trade-offs and negative consequences for the environment and ecosystems. Land is used for settlements, agriculture and dense infrastructure, creating problems of soil degradation. Water resources are stressed due to unsustainable agricultural practices. Despite nature protection policies, Europe continues to lose biodiversity at an alarming pace. Some of these trends are exacerbated by climate change, which is expected, for instance, to lead to shifts in water availability.

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Global Issues

Resource scarcities, environmental pollution and climate change are not limited by national borders, but often have a transboundary or even global impact. These issues interact with political stability, governance structures and economic performance, and can trigger or worsen disputes and violent conflicts. Exacerbating some of these trends, climate change is likely to lead to the degradation of freshwater resources, declines in food production, increases in storm and flood disasters and environmentally induced migration. All these developments pose potential for conflict.

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Middle East & North Africa

The geopolitical position of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), its fossil fuel resources, high population growth and the political changes spurred by the Arab Spring all make the region one of the most dynamic in the world. Nevertheless, it is also one of the most arid and environmentally stressed. Dwindling water resources, limited arable and grazing land, high pollution from household and industrial waste, remnants of conflicts and increasing desertification are key environmental challenges.

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North America

Climate change has various impacts on the three North American countries of Canada, Mexico and the US. Canada and the US have well-developed adaptive capacities and foster the strengthening of capacities in other regions as well. With high per capita emissions, these two countries also bear a greater responsibility for a changing climate. Mexico has a sound national strategy for climate change adaptation, yet fewer capacities than Canada and the US. The poorer and rural populations of Mexico are especially vulnerable to climate change, due to an increased sensitivity and a lower adaptive capacity.

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Oceania & Pacific

In Oceania, population growth and economic development trends put a strain on oceanic and island ecosystems. Freshwater scarcity, overexploitation of fisheries, loss of land biodiversity, forests and trees, invasive species, soil degradation, increasing levels of settlement, poor management of solid and hazardous waste and disproportionate use of coastal areas are some of the problems. Climate change exacerbates most of these trends, while also raising questions about the future sovereignty of some island states.

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South America

South America has diverse and unique ecosystems and is very rich in biodiversity. Weak natural resource management, land disputes and extreme weather events bring about significant challenges for the region. While South America accounts for relatively few CO2 emissions, the changing climate will alter its ecosystems and greater climate variability will lead to more hurricanes, landslides, and droughts.

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Sub-Saharan Africa

In many African states, environmental security issues rank high on the political agenda. Throughout the continent, countries suffer from water scarcity, food insecurity and energy poverty. These chronic and worsening resource scarcities have severe livelihood implications and are exacerbated by political conflicts over access to and control over these resources. Climate change may seriously threaten political and economic stability in Africa. It may also put a severe strain on the capacities of states and societies to co-ordinate activities, to communicate and to organize.

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