Five daunting climate change scenarios

Posted on 15 September 2010

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The UNFPA 2009 State of the World Population report recalls that “Walter Kälin, Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, has identified five climate change scenarios, each of which has a different impact on the pace or scale of migration or displacement:

• Hydro-meteorological disasters, including extreme weather events such as hurricanes, flooding and mudslides, which may lead to sudden-onset displacement.

• Environmental degradation, including desertification, water scarcity and soil exhaustion, which may result in gradual migration or displacement.

• Losses in state territory, including erosion and coastal flooding resulting from rising sea levels. Persons living in low-lying coastal areas and the so-called “sinking” small island developing states, such as the Maldives, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, will be most affected by this scenario. It may lead to gradual migration and displacement, and possibly even to statelessness.

• Designation of “high risk” areas by national authorities, including territories that are prone to disasters and that are designated as unsafe, leading to the forced relocation of its inhabitants. This scenario may cause gradual migration, relocation and displacement, most often within the same state.

• Violence and armed conflict over scarce and diminishing natural resources, including conflict arising from food and water insecurity and lack of arable land. This scenario may cause both gradual and sudden migration and displacement.”

So, which of the scenarios are most likely to affect you?


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