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Climate, Migration and Security

I had an enjoyable short walk early this morning,as soon as it got light, across snow-covered fields – although it is thawing, and the light snowfall was turning into a fine drizzle. It was like a silvery-grey veil over the sky and the landscape and beautifully quiet, just me, one or two dog-walkers and a peckish-looking buzzard.
The bird reminded me of something a visitor from Africa said to me at the weekend. “The Germans even have perches for their birds-of-prey by the motorway”. It’s true – not just by the motorways.The bird was using a perch set up in an orchard.
The visitor, used to hot weather, was also delighted to see some snow, and amazed to feel how cars slither on icy roads. “Is it always like this at this time,is this the height of winter, how long does it last?”
Of course people here are saying it’s time spring came along, this has been an unusually cold and snowy winter… But of course this used to be much more “normal” not so many decades ago. And “extreme” weather events, are becoming more common.
The visitor was one of a group from different parts of Africa and other parts of the world in town for a conference on Migration and Security in sub-Saharan Africa.
More about Migration and Security on the website of the Bonn International Centre for Conversion
I was at the conference, which was looking at the extent of migration, the causes and what we need to do about it.
Climate change is, of course, already a factor, and that will increase tremendously in the years to come.
One of the presentations was by Dr. Koko Warner of UNU-EHS, that’s the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security.
More about the work of UNU-EHS
There were a lot of interesting papers at the conference, but Dr. Warner’s, was on the role of environmental degradation in provoking migration.She stressed the need for climate change and environmental degradation to be tackled together, rather than in separate boxes. One thing that stuck in most people’s minds was what she said about possible numbers of migrants. Everybody wants to know how many people are likely to be affected. There are various estimates, but none is based on real scientific estimates at yet. There’s a huge variation in the estimates. A “conservative” estimate says that after 2050, 200 million people will be pushed by “environmental” factors to migrate. Other forecasts see up to 700 million people on the move.
It’s not hard to work out how that could become a challenge to global security.


February 16, 2009 | 9:10 am



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