The Global Change Impact on Human Trafficking

The Global Change Impact on Human Trafficking

The Global Change Impact on Human Trafficking

This article examines the intersection of human trafficking with climate change, conflict, COVID-19 and technology. Challenges often bring opportunities, so we will conclude with positive impacts.

Climate change

In 2021, climate-related disasters led to the displacement of nearly 24 million people globally. The adverse impacts of climate change magnify other drivers of displacement, such as loss of livelihoods, poverty, food insecurity, and a lack of access to water and other resources, pushing people to migrate and exposing these vulnerable populations to human trafficking now more than at any other point in the past five decades.1


Human trafficking is an increasingly common feature of modern conflict, whether national or international. Ghada Waly, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) commented, “Human traffickers prey on the desperation of people affected by conflict and humanitarian crises in countries of origin, transit and destination. We need strong action to reduce vulnerability to human trafficking, also in times of crisis, and close cooperation if we are to effectively prevent and combat the crime.”


The UNODC report on “The Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Trafficking in Persons” provides a series of recommendations based on the lessons learned shared by experts for strengthening the anti-trafficking response during crises. Their final remark: “The coming years will show if we will be able to strengthen sustainable responses to trafficking in persons, learning from each other, and recognizing new trends in trafficking in persons cases, identifying victims and their needs for assistance in a victim-centered, age- and gender-sensitive as well as trauma-informed way.

Trafficking is profitable in a digital age 

With 4.2 billion people already having access to the internet in 2018, information and communications technology continues to play an important role in the field of trafficking in human beings. Technology has broadened criminals’ ability to traffic human beings for different types of exploitation (including sexual and labor exploitation, the removal of organs, illegal adoption of children and forced marriages).

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