climate refugees

Internal memo reveals UN unpreparedness for looming climate migration

As the United Nations General Assembly is now taking place and dozens of heads of state are about to take the podium to parade and deliver their good word, an internal note reveals the incredible unpreparedness of the United Nations to deal with the peril of climate migration. The challenge can be summed up in one figure: 1 billion people will be displaced by 2050 as a result of climate change. And no one knows how to solve this problem.
Un billion people is such a huge number that it is difficult to make it concrete. To use an image, it's a bit like an evil genie waving a magic wand and emptying a huge part of China's population and pouring it out onto the rest of the world. It is easier to imagine the consequences. Another element that is difficult to realize is the deadline. 2050 still seems a long way off. However, a child entering the sixth grade this year will be in the prime of life to attend the show that his parents have programmed for him, starting today.

Climate change is drawing new maps

The figure of one billion climate refugees comes from the United Nations itself. It has been published at the beginning of the year. As of today, there are nearly 258 million migrants worldwide, including 22.5 million refugees registered by the United Nations Refugee Agency. These figures are nothing if the most modest climate predictions come true. No one can pretend to be unaware that droughts, natural disasters, desertification, crop failures and many other environmental disturbances destroy the livelihoods of entire communities and render entire regions uninhabitable.
Climate change is radically reshaping our world, leading to unprecedented human displacement. The map areas where it is possible to live is being redrawn every day. Around the world, there are more frequent heat waves, storms and floods than ever before.
Today, the reasons for migration are multiplying, juxtaposing and influencing each other. Economic, political and environmental factors are intertwined in such a way that the distinction made in the 1950s between political refugees, protected by the Geneva Convention, and economic migrants is no longer adapted to contemporary and emerging realities.

A report that disturbs

It is in this context that an internal UN memo has just been revealed. It emanates from the "Working Group on Displacement" and describes a most complex situation.
The authors of this report warn of the lack of a plan and a coordinated approach within the UN to address climate migration. According to the panel, the UN needs a coordinated approach to help people forced to move because of floods, storms, drought and other events aggravated by global warming: "The UN needs a coordinated approach to help people who are forced to move because of floods, storms, drought and other events aggravated by global warming. The United Nations currently lacks a system-wide leadership, coordination mechanism or strategy on disaster-related displacement, including climate change. ".
During the examination of their report, the experts stated that they had found that "the widespread lack of a comprehensive framework for monitoring and evaluating the regulation of human mobility in the context of climate change ». They warn that specialized legal frameworks are non-existent. " while they could play a key role in ensuring the effectiveness of state and local responses, in particular in defining legal mandates and powers and in allocating the funds needed to implement their strategies ".

Regrettable shortcomings

The experts regret that there are significant gaps in international law that are sorely lacking on the issue of climate-related migration. In their view, appropriate responses should be made as the new Global Compact on Refugees, currently under discussion and expected to be ratified by UN Member States by the end of this year, builds on the existing framework while striving to take into account the current reality, including the need to protect those forced to migrate due to natural disasters and climate change. This is not enough for the rapporteurs who call on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to consider the issue urgently.
However, history teaches us that states are rather hostile to collective solutions to manage forced migration. The extent of the damage is now clearly visible in the disturbing and unacceptable plight of refugees from all parts of the world.
The report calls for reflection and evaluation of various possible solutions. Among them, planned resettlement, encouraged by the World Bank, which estimates that it could reduce climate-related migration flows by up to 80%. The report calls for the identification of the areas most at risk and the implementation of displacement strategies, before the disaster occurs.
Although climate-related migration has been recognized since COP 16 in Cancún in 2010, it shows how powerless we are in the face of this coming world. The report that has just been released is proof of this, if proof were needed. All the more so as the window of action is rapidly closing and the degradation linked to climate change is creating, before our very eyes, unacceptable levels of human insecurity.

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