07 July 2017 |Baher Kamal | Inter Press Service
“Since 2008 one person has been displaced every second by climate and weather disasters”
“World organisations, experts and scientists have been repeating it to satiety: climate change poses a major risk to the poorest rural populations in developing countries, dangerously threatening their lives and livelihoods and thus forcing them to migrate.
Also that the billions of dollars that the major industrialised powers—those who are the main responsible for climate change, spend on often illegal, inhumane measures aiming at impeding the arrival of migrants and refuges to their countries, could be devoted instead to preventing the root causes of massive human displacements.
One such a solution is to invest in sustainable agriculture. On this, the world’s leading body in the fields of food and agriculture has once again warned that climate change often leads to distress-driven migration, while stressing that promoting sustainable agriculture is an essential part of an effective policy response.
The “solution to this great challenge” lies in bolstering the economic activities that the vast majority of rural populations are already engaged in,” José Graziano da Silva, director-general of the Rome-based UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on 6 July said.
The UN specialised agency’s chief cited figures showing that since 2008 one person has been displaced every second by climate and weather disasters –an average of 26 million a year– and suggesting the trend is likely to intensify in the immediate future as rural areas struggle to cope with warmer weather and more erratic rainfall.
Drivers of Rural Migration
“Rural areas of developing countries, where often poor households have limited capacity to cope with and manage risks, are forecast to bear the brunt of higher average temperatures. Such vulnerabilities have been worsened by years of under-investment in rural areas.”
Using migration as an adaptation strategy can be positive –remittances can bolster food security and productive investment in places of origin– but can also perpetuate more vulnerability if not supported by adequate policies.
“We need to systematically integrate migration and climate change into national development and poverty reduction programmes, disaster risk reduction and crisis planning and develop agricultural policies and practices that enhance resilience in the face of climate-induced forced migration,” IOM’s Swing added.
Both Graziano da Silva and Swing made their statements during the FAO Conference in Rome (3-8 July 2017).
FAO and IOM called for explicit recognition of migration –both its causes and its potential– in national climate change and rural development policies.
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