Being a multilateral forum of international economic cooperation, the G20 can serve as a suitable platform for creating a dedicated fund for climate migrants
Climate change is a global challenge with alarming implications, including the displacement of populations due to climate shocks. The UN International Organization for Migration anticipates that by 2050, there will be around 200 million individuals compelled to relocate due to environmental factors. In 2022, triggered by unprecedented monsoon rains, 8 million people were displaced by extensive floods in Pakistan. As reported by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, climate-related incidents prompted nearly 5 million Indians to abandon their homes in 2021 due to extreme weather events. As climate migrants seek refuge and opportunities for a better life—typically in urban locations that are not only unprepared to receive them but are also susceptible to climate consequences—the provision of adequate climate finance becomes crucial. Addressing this urgent need for resources and preparation necessitates a robust investment in special climate financial mechanisms.
The UN International Organization for Migration anticipates that by 2050, there will be around 200 million individuals compelled to relocate due to environmental factors.
Climate finance primarily focuses on two main areas: mitigation, which involves reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting sustainable practices, and adaptation, which involves building resilience to the impacts of climate change. By supporting broader resilience-building efforts and sustainable development projects, some climate finance initiatives have indirectly addressed aspects of climate-induced immigration, but it hasn’t been directly covered. Refugee protection plans (Refugee Environmental Protection Fund, IOM programmes, Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage associated with Climate change impacts), State initiatives (Nansen Initiative by Switzerland and Norway), and funding have been initiated by international organisations, governments, and NGOs, to provide support to climate migrants. However, specific funds dedicated solely to climate-induced migration within climate finance mechanisms are limited. While Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) have also committed to being at the forefront of funding climate action and addressing displacement emergencies, there is seldom an intersection between these initiatives and financing projects on climate migration. Although there is a growing acknowledgement among policymakers about the significance of addressing climate change, migration remains a contentious and highly politicised topic. This sensitivity deters policymakers from weaving migration considerations into climate-specific policies, subsequently limiting the scope of MDBs. They can only tailor projects that resonate with each country’s development priorities and rarely possess any internal expertise regarding local migration circumstances. Climate contributors, predominantly among high-income nations, have also committed substantial sums towards climate initiatives but haven’t gathered much support for projects linked to climate-induced migration. It is vital to extend climate donations to aid individuals relocating from climate-threatened regions to secure livelihood in new locales.
Climate contributors, predominantly among high-income nations, have also committed substantial sums towards climate initiatives but haven’t gathered much support for projects linked to climate-induced migration.
Climate-induced migration is a multi-faceted issue that spans across various countries and contexts, making it challenging to address comprehensively. The G20 has been actively advocating for the shift towards more eco-friendly energy systems. It also acknowledges the critical role of unified efforts in addressing environmental challenges. Being a multilateral forum of international economic cooperation, the G20 can serve as a suitable platform for forging synergy towards creating a dedicated fund for climate migrants. The group has substantial influence and resources, making it well-positioned to address climate migrants’ challenges and set a global precedent. Looking at the given timeline of the G20 presidency, the spotlight is on the IBSA (India, Brazil, South Africa)—major countries from the Global South. Leveraging their collective resources, expertise, and influence, together they can play a significant role in supporting climate migrants. These three emerging economies are experiencing significant demographic changes due to environmental shifts, compelling people to relocate. In recent years, India has demonstrated a growing commitment to incorporating climate considerations into its policies and international engagements. Parallel to the NAPCC, many Indian states formulated their State Action Plans on Climate Change, which are tailored strategies to address state-specific climate vulnerabilities. While India is making notable strides in its climate responsiveness, it still stands unprepared for the challenges of climate migration. World Bank Group’s Climate Risk Country Profile for India, anticipates that specific areas will experience significant migration inflows and outflows, forming ‘hotspot’ zones. By 2050, Bangladesh is anticipated to lose around 17 percent of its land area due to rising sea levels. Given Bangladesh’s limited capacity to handle extensive internal migration, India is likely to be a preferred destination for numerous climate migrants. The Sunderbans Delta in Bangladesh is considered a critical risk zone, with projections suggesting an influx of around 50-120 million climate migrants to India. A 2020 report by Action Aid and Climate Action Network, estimates that by 2050, environmental changes will displace over 45 million individuals in India. Based on climate-induced displacement and migration in India, the rising sea levels can potentially impact around 36 million individuals residing in coastal regions of merely two states, Bengal and Odisha.
Parallel to the NAPCC, many Indian states formulated their State Action Plans on Climate Change, which are tailored strategies to address state-specific climate vulnerabilities.
For a significant period now, Brazil has also been seeing internal migrations from its Northeastern regions, due to El Niño-driven droughts and floods. South Africa, grappling with the issues of water scarcity and flooding, anticipates an increase in internal and cross-border migrations as conditions worsen. In April of 2022, severe floods in the KwaZulu-Natal province of eastern South Afric resulted in the displacement of 40,000 individuals. IBSA can leverage its status as an influential South-South cooperation forum to promote solidarity and cooperation among developing countries in addressing climate migration. Through sharing experiences, expertise, and resources, IBSA can foster collaborations with other regions facing similar challenges, facilitating mutual support and learning.
South Africa, grappling with the issues of water scarcity and flooding, anticipates an increase in internal and cross-border migrations as conditions worsen.
Addressing climate migration will require a more holistic approach, and a dedicated fund could certainly be a part of the solution.
The G20 already contributes to global climate finance mechanisms, like the Green Climate Fund, however, they largely support climate change mitigation and adaptation projects. It must consider directing a specific portion of its funds towards climate migrants’ needs. The G20 can also play a pivotal role in bolstering the limited in-house knowledge of local migration conditions to guide the financial efforts of Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs). It could further facilitate engagements between MDBs and local communities and also fund research initiatives in regions most affected by climate-induced migration. It could support training programmes in vulnerable countries to enhance their migration management. This locally-sourced knowledge can provide MDBs with nuanced insights that global reports might miss. This could help leverage their expertise, avoid duplication, and ensure effective use of resources.
Priyanshu Mehta is an intern at the Observer Research Foundation
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Priyanshu Mehta is an intern at the Observer Research Foundation ...Read More +