The Ecological Threat Register, run by the Sydney-based Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), estimated that by 2050 1.2 billion people could be displaced worldwide. No country will survive the effects of the climate crisis – but the world’s poorest and most vulnerable populations will be the hardest hit.
“Ecological hazards and climate change are serious challenges to global development and peace,” the report states. “The least resilient countries in the world, when faced with ecological breakdown, are more likely to experience civil unrest, political instability, social fragmentation and economic collapse.”
The report drew on data from international organizations such as the United Nations, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and IEP’s prior research on countries’ resilience levels. Using these data, the IEP calculated the relative risks of population growth, water stress, food insecurity, drought, floods, cyclones and rising temperatures and sea levels.
It was found that more than one billion people lived in 31 countries with little resilience – meaning they are not equipped to withstand the impact of ecological change in the coming decades.
The report states that the most threatened regions are Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.
“Not all of these people will be displaced, although it is likely that there will be a significant number of them,” the IEP said.
The report warns that better-resurrected countries in places like North America and Europe will be more capable of managing the effects of these disasters, but they will likely face a heavy influx of climate refugees.
Lack of food and water
Currently, the global population is 7.8 billion. The number is expected to reach 10 billion by 2050 – citing figures from the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, keeping the world’s already sprawling natural resources under stress.
The report states that the majority of this population growth is expected to occur in countries with armed conflict, such as in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Citing research from the global non-profit organization World Resource Institute, The report estimated that global demand for food will increase by 50% by 2050 and 3.5 billion people may suffer from food insecurity.
Water scarcity can be a major issue – already, there are more than 2.6 billion people experiencing high or extreme water stress, meaning that there is either not enough water for their needs or their water supply There is a risk of disruption, the report said.
Rainfall, rising temperatures and other ecological impacts disrupted by climate change are already causing a water crisis – in 2019, Chennai, India’s sixth largest city, almost ran out of water. Water had to be brought daily from other states, so that people could stand for hours in the sun and fill jaggery with their daily water ration.
By 2040, a total of 5.4 billion people – or more than half of the world’s estimated population – will live in countries experiencing high or extreme water stress. The report said that India and China will join the two most populous countries of the world.
It can also end more and more violence and conflict, which not only destabilize economies and governments, but also prompt mass exodus. Over the past decade, worldwide water-related violent incidents have increased by 270%, IEP said, citing water solutions company Worldwater.
Asia-Pacific has been the most affected region; 29% of all natural disasters have occurred there in the last 30 years, The study found. Europe had the second highest number of natural disasters globally.
The study said that in 2019, India faced the largest population displacement due to natural disasters, with 5 million people leaving their homes. Globally, natural disasters displaced 25 million people last year – and the number will likely continue to rise, the research team found.
And these natural disasters strike the hardest in poor countries; They kill seven times more people in the least developed nations than highly developed ones, previous research by the IOP reported using socioeconomic indicators on ecological resilience. This is not because disasters occur more frequently or more seriously in poor countries – but because those nations are less capable of handling this shock.
All these threats will create a joint migration crisis, which can then lead to spinoff effects such as increased political instability, global insecurity and greater hostility towards migrants.
The report states that international cooperation and foreign climate-related assistance will be necessary to reduce these impacts and help developing countries have better resilience. This type of international aid has already increased 34 times from 2000 to 2018 as the full extent of the crisis has become clear – but they still fall well short of “what is needed to pursue these issues” , “The report warned.