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migration

Climate dilemmas in Central Asia

Rasmus Heltberg's picture
    Photo © Rasmus Heltberg/World Bank

How should climate change be addressed in Tajikistan, the poorest and—according to a World Bank regional assessment, most climate-vulnerable—country in Eastern Europe and Central Asia?1  On a recent visit to this scenic nation to assess the poverty aspects of climate change, we struggled with this seemingly simple question. Answers remain elusive, given the country’s daunting climate dilemmas. So, while in Dushanbe, I attempted to write about the range of the challenge.

First, consider Tajikistan’s thousands of glaciers, many of which are receding. As they melt, farmers downstream enjoy plentiful water supply and see no need to take action. However, once the glaciers are gone, dry rivers and extreme water scarcity could mean the end of farming livelihoods in some areas.

Low-carbon growth: the only sustainable way to overcome world poverty

Nicholas Stern's picture

The two great challenges of the 21st century are the battle against poverty and the management of climate change.  On both we must act strongly now and expect to continue that action over the coming decades.  Our response to climate change and poverty reduction will define our generation.  If we fail on either one of them, we will fail on the other. The current crisis in the financial markets and the economic downturn is new and immediate, although some years in the making. All three challenges require urgent and decisive action, and all three can be overcome together through determined and concerted efforts across the world. But whilst recognising that we must respond, and respond strongly, to all three challenges, we should also recognise the opportunities: a well-constructed response to one can provide great direct advantages and opportunities for the other.

A dire situation in Bangladesh

Nate Engle's picture
Photo by Mohon Mondal
Photo: © Mohon Mondal, Local Environment Development and Agricultural Research Society, Bangladesh.

Estimates assessing how many people will be displaced or forced to migrate because of climate change impacts are wide-ranging. But anecdotes of where climate-related migration is already taking place are beginning to crowd newspapers, radio and television programs, and various internet sources. Other than the low-lying islands which could be completely consumed by rising ocean waters, perhaps nowhere else in the world are these stories more pronounced than in Bangladesh.

In my backyard, or not—but is that really the question?

Andrea Liverani's picture
In my backyard, or not—but is that really the question?
   Photo © World Bank

For years scientists have argued that in order to grab the public’s attention to global warming, citizens must be told how the towns, regions and communities in which they and their children live will be affected. Information on local level impacts – the argument runs – makes climate change “real” and should therefore be the cornerstone of public support for mitigation.

Cities on the rise?

Alexander Lotsch's picture

The developing world is rapidly urbanizing, as a previous World Development Report noted. Low and middle-income nations are home to three quarters of the world’s urban population. Urban areas are likely to absorb almost all of the world’s population increase over the next two decades. The most populous urban areas tend to concentrate in coastal zones--China and India alone have more than a quarter of the world’s urban population and the world’s largest population living in low-lying coastal zones. Even Africa, generally considered a rural continent, has two-fifths of its population in urban areas, and a large concentration of coastal cities.

How to hold back the ocean?

Sandy Chang's picture

How to hold back the ocean?

    Photo © William Lane/World Bank

Sea-level rise is not a phenomenon of increasing frequency, but rather increasing magnitude in a persistent and continuous way. The effect of climate change is most palpably felt in small, low-lying island states such as Panza Island, the southernmost island off Pemba in Tanzania. Farming and fishing are the main means of livelihood. Significant parts of the island, especially the lower elevation southeastern side, are inundated by seawater bimonthly, during the spring cycles and most prominently during the diurnal flood tides. The local residents report up to four feet of water in some areas, which have only become vulnerable in the past year. Previously agricultural land can no longer be farmed. The area near the local school has been flooding for the past 15 years. Salt water has intruded into all the wells on the island, so drinking water has to now be piped in from a neighboring island.