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Friday, March 30, 2018

Climate change and internal migration in Latin America

Por MRod

It is something we all know for a while. For climate change, time is running out, but specialists keep saying that if the movement is fast and the action is on the right track, the number of internal migrants could be reduced by up to 100 million people over current global forecasts. Latin America stats are not encouraging in this regard.

Climate change, often relegated to the background in favor of short-term debates, is the great economic and social challenge of the 21st century. It is an existential threat, as alert the general director of the World Bank, Kristalina Georgieva: the rise of the oceans by the melting of the poles, the destruction by storms or droughts will cause entire communities to be forced to move to areas in which their survival is more viable. The situation will be particularly serious in Latin America, where up to 17 million people will have to migrate within their own country, and, especially, in Mexico and Central America, where up to four million citizens will be forced into internal exile.

All over the world, according to the calculations of the international organization, that number will rise to 143 million internal migrants. Recently, the World Bank is focusing on a much less studied reality: the displacements within the same country. And the figures for the so-called underdeveloped and emerging world are devastating. In the regions of sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Latin America -which jointly account for more than half of the world's developing population- almost 3% of families are at risk of having to migrate from one area to another in their own country in 2050 to escape the effects of climate change.

The impact, however, will not be uniform in all regions or countries. Internal migration, underline World Bank technicians, will mean the displacement of internal communities living in areas with scarce water availability and low productivity of crops or that are affected by rising sea levels or by increased storms and hurricanes to others with better natural conditions. "The poorest areas will be the hardest hit," the report concludes. One of the most impacted areas will be Mexico and Central America - to which the World Bank devotes significant space.

The 177 million inhabitants of today will become more than 200 million in 2050 and although three quarters of the population lives in urban areas, their economies are still very dependent on agriculture, one of the sectors hardest hit by the effects of climate change. In the most adverse case, internal climatic migrants could reach up to 1% of the population, a figure that would reach 2% in the specific case of Mexico.

The "climate migrants," as the World Bank calls them, will go on to represent almost one in seven total movements in the Latin American country by the year 2050, according to projections. It is twice the expected figure for 2020. "The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive”. That was said by Mr. Trump. The whole region of Latin America will disagree.