Climate migration: time to act before it’s too late – archyde

The dire consequences of climate change are becoming more apparent every day. No region or country in the world is exempt from this. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the environmental, economic and social consequences will worsen and it is inevitable that there will be more frequent conflicts and climate migration.

Global average temperatures have risen by about 1.1 degrees Celsius (about 2 degrees Fahrenheit) since the industrial revolution. Its precipitation was observed in every aspect of life. From food security to energy shortages, there are several concerns around the globe. Accordingly, it is expected that poverty will increase worldwide due to the climate crisis.

In this context, there is a lot of discussion today about climate security. The discussion includes not only risks and threats that threaten human life, the continuity of ecosystems and the well-being of countries, but also policies and measures to reduce greenhouse gases and adapt to climate change.

The connection between crises

Many societies, especially the inhabitants of small island states, are experiencing the cruel effects of climate change and climate security problems. The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) warns that the existence of island states such as Kiribati, the Maldives and the Marshall Islands is endangered by rising sea levels as a result of climate change. These problems inevitably exacerbate climate migration, which has increased sharply in recent years.

Today, environmental problems are increasingly correlated with displacement and migration. According to the World Bank’s Groundswell Report, by 2050, 216 million people in six world regions will be forced to move within their countries. This shows that cities and socially sensitive groups will be affected.

In June 2021, Bangladesh announced that the number of “Climate Migrants” from Bangladesh more than 10 million people displaced due to climate change. The country that is currently home to 1.1 million Rohingya Muslims is affected by climate change. Bangladesh also stated that the projected sea level rise by 2050 will result in 17% of Bangladeshi coastline being submerged, meaning more than 20 million people will have to migrate.

Citizens from African and Asian countries in particular are already migrating due to climate-related problems. But people in parts of North America and Europe may also have to emigrate. It is therefore very likely that migration from these countries will increase as the effects of climate change increase.

International agendas

Migration, climate relations and climate protection measures are also contained in various international climate protection agreements. The connection between climate change and migration was first included in studies within the framework of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as part of the Cancun Adaptation Framework 2010 and the importance of strengthening cooperation in these areas was emphasized. The Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage Related to the Effects of Climate Change the identified approaches to mitigating the damage caused by climate change and human mobility was included in the five main strategic studies identified.

Another important UN document that addresses the relationship between climate change and migration is the 2015 UN Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development Goals. The United Nations Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 also includes the link between climate change and migration. The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration is another document that takes a comprehensive and holistic approach to international migration and includes commitments on natural disasters, the negative effects of climate change and environmental degradation.

While countries are grappling with the influx of migrants and refugees, restrictive measures have been put in place to control the flow of undocumented migrants and, in particular, efforts by the European Union to prevent undocumented migration have increased. With the refugee crisis in 2015, the issue of forced migration and asylum seekers moved to the center of the agenda in all countries, including the EU. This paved the way for international studies and agreements on the link between climate change and migration.

Effects on Turkey

The negative effects of climate change and the resulting security and migration problems are an important agenda item for both Turkey and other countries. As highlighted in the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Turkey is in a very vulnerable position as a country in the Mediterranean macroclimate region amid the negative effects of climate change. Temperatures are expected to rise and rainfall to decrease in the coming period. This is likely to have a negative impact on development, create regional inequalities and affect water and food security. Turkey is particularly affected by human mobility due to its geographical location, its social structure, its historical proximity and its economic conditions. It is crucial that we investigate this effect through scientific studies.

Turkey faces a possible migration and refugee crisis. There are several reasons, including climate-related issues, that are increasing migratory flows into the country. Migrants and refugees continue to move to Turkey from distant countries like Afghanistan to countries just across the border like Syria. However, if we assess migration movements in the context of neighboring countries, we cannot expect people to flee immediately the 2021 drought in Iraq; the same logic applies to the situation in Iran. When the drought continues, people migrate inward first and then outward.

In the course of the current migration movements, many immigrate to Turkey, mainly from South Asia. As of August 2021, Afghanistan was the source of most irregular migrants in Turkey, while Pakistan ranks third. In 2021, 80% of Afghanistan was hit by drought. However, the drought is not the only cause of Afghan migration. The increase in the conflict caused by the takeover of the Taliban also played a major role.

As the numerous migration studies using examples such as Syria and Afghanistan have shown, in addition to the deterioration in living conditions due to drought and other climate-related disasters, there is also an increase in the formation of radical groups and internal conflicts if the central and welfare state is not strong.

In this respect, while drought is not the only reason for migration in these regions, it can be said that drought is one of the most important starting factors that worsen the living conditions of local agricultural workers and trigger migration. In addition, the political instability in the Middle East and the conflicts between various international powers in the region also play an important role.

Turkey has become the center of attraction of the region because it is the most reliable, democratic, economically developed and politically stable country in the region. The increasing migration from South Asia, the Balkans, the Black Sea and the Middle East, both due to climate change and for other reasons, is seen as a threat to Turkey and the EU countries in the future. In today’s conditions, where climate migration is becoming increasingly important on the international agenda, it is important to look at migration management alongside the effects of climate change.

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