Environmental migration

Begonia Filgueira | 10 years ago

Foresight, BIS and the Government Office for Science published on the 20 October 2011 a report on environmental migration. The conclusions are fascinating:

–  People will increasingly migrate towards environmentally vulnerable areas. Rural to urban migration is set to continue, but many cities in the developing world are already failing their citizens with flooding, water shortages and inadequate housing. Preliminary estimates show that up to 192 million more people will be living in urban coastal floodplains in Africa and Asia by 2060, through both natural population growth and rural-urban migration;

–  Millions will be ‘trapped’ in vulnerable areas and unable to move, particularly in low-income countries. Migration is costly, and with environmental conditions such as drought and flooding eroding people’s livelihoods, migration – particularly over long distances – may be less possible in many situations. This creates high risk conditions;

–  However, migration can transform people’s ability to cope with environmental change, opening up new sources of income which help them become stronger and more resilient. For instance, 2009 remittances to low income countries were at $307 billion, nearly three times the value of overseas development aid. These kinds of income flows may actually make it possible for households, particularly in low income countries, to stay in situ for longer.

The Report suggests we need a model for environmental migration. New Zealand’s policy agreeing to take in 75 people from Tuvalu, a low lying Polynesian Island, or a quarter of its population, over the next 30 was seemed a good example of a regional migration model. The World Bank is calling a meeting in December to discuss environmental migration in the light of the findings of this Report. Watch this space!

For a copy of the report email sally.catmull@bis.gsi.gov.uk

About the author

Begonia Filgueira

Begonia is a specialist in Environmental Law, governance and negotiation. Her career now spans 20 years having started as an environmental lawyer in the City. She is a dually qualified UK Solicitor and Spanish Abogada who provides legal advice, trains professionals and carries out complex research in the areas of International and EU environmental law. She also advises on treaty negotiations and implementation of EU law. Begonia has advised UNEP, UNDP, the European Commission, DEFRA and DOENI. She also advises industry and NGOs on environmental policy and regulation. BREXIT negotiations is her current area of specialism.