Climate change is emerging as a potent driver of mobility. The report Groundswell Part II: Acting on Internal Climate Migration (2021) projects that, by 2050, without concrete climate and development action, just over 216 million people—or around three percent of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia and the Pacific, South Asia, North Africa, Latin America, and Eastern Europe and Central Asia—could be forced to move within their own countries due to the slow-onset impacts of climate change. In East Asia and the Pacific, “internal climate migrants” could number as many as 48.4 million, representing up to 2.5 percent of the region’s total population.
Climate migrants will move from less viable areas with lower water availability and crop productivity and from areas affected by rising sea level and storm surges. The poorest and most climate vulnerable areas will be hardest hit. These trends, alongside the emergence of “hotspots” of climate in- and out-migration, will have major implications for climate- sensitive sectors and for the adequacy of urban infrastructure and social support systems in both rural and urban areas. While some climate migration cannot be avoided due to the lock-in of climate effects of past emissions, the report results also indicate that future trajectories of climate migration are not set in stone.
Climate migration in East Asia and Pacific can have substantial development implications, and the stakes are high. Achieving a resilient society—where people can either adapt in place and thrive or migrate with dignity toward areas of higher opportunity—is an important part of meeting national development goals.
Policy decisions made today will shape the extent to which the effects of climate change will be positive for migrants and their families. Inaction would mean missing a window of opportunity to reconfigure where, when, and how climate resilient investments are made in support of robust economies.
This Policy Note #5 is the fifth in a series of six notes drawn from the Groundswell reports. It provides an overview of results and their implications for East Asia and the Pacific, one of the six regions of focus.
Read entire Policy Note here.