Mitigating and Planning
“The importance of early action cannot be emphasised enough,” said Clement. This includes cutting greenhouse gas emissions and embedding climate migration into resilience planning for all phases of migration – before, during and after.
Cities will need to plan differently and it will be highly contextualised, so they might see both in and out migration, as has happened in some parts of Mumbai and Karachi. They can strengthen their adaptive capacity for influx, including housing, transport systems, social services, education, training and employment.
One key consideration will be social cohesion. In Syria, it has been suggested that poor urban planning, which saw internal migrants move into badly designed enclaves on the edges of cities such as Homs, resulted in the breakdown of the cities’ previously multicultural fabric and contributed to the country’s crisis (see the work of Syrian architect, Marwa al-Sabouni).
In the discussion of the report findings at the Congress, Linda Beyer, who has worked with UNICEF and the International Development Research Centre for the past 15 years across Sub-Saharan Africa, observed that in other countries, such as Somalia, there are ethnic and clan complexities that mean displaced people can end up being displaced again, as has happened in Mogadishu. “Often there isn’t an equal response, there are dynamics underneath.” The sheer complexity of national, regional and local governments in many countries can also act against a concerted effort, so too the short-termism of many politicians.
Even if the emissions targets of the Paris Agreement are met, the world is already locked into some internal migration, said Clement. Indeed, it is under way. This is either – mostly – unmanaged but also, typically in developed countries, managed by local, regional and national governments, such as is happening in Fiji and Louisiana.
There are many potential follow-ups to the study, Clement concluded, including how to make the findings “actionable”. It could be extended to the rest of the globe and the methodology could be refined for particular scenarios, such as small island states. The methodology could also be enriched, adding in economic criteria, for instance.
It complements other studies, such as a World Bank report on how climate change will impact quality of life in seven South Asian countries (https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/28723), and the Open Cities project (http://www.opencitiesproject.org/), looking at geospatial mapping to building level to identify where populations and infrastructure are most vulnerable.
Sometimes it can seem that there is more analysis than action around climate change and resilience. However, the World Bank study looks an important one, adding insights into an often ignored but potentially massive part of where the world is heading, if warnings such as this are not heeded.