Climate Change Induces Forced Migration

More people exposed to the environmental risk of climate change are being compelled to migrate from their original settlements in Ghana and other parts of Africa. Experts say the impact of climate change, such as rising sea levels, droughts, storms and heavy downpours, has been identified as the leading cause of the migration of people and also seen as a security threat. At a three-day climate change and population conference on Africa organised by the Regional Institute for Population Studies (RIPS) of the University of Ghana in Accra, participants are discussing the imminent security threat and how it could be addressed. Representatives from the security agencies, academia, policy makers, civil society and international organisations attending the conference will also share lessons on climate innovation with stakeholders to demonstrate the relevance of scientific research to solving societal problems in the sub-region. More people displaced The Head of the Gender Coordination Unit of the Office of the Director-General of the International Organisation of Migration (IOM), Ms Sylvia Lopez Ekra, in a keynote address, said migration should be recognised as an important climate change adaptation strategy. She said the strategy would be effective if disaster management was incorporated into national policies. “The climate change situation is on the rise and it looks like it will continue to increase if nothing is done about it,” she said. Since 2008, she said more than 20 million people had been displaced internally as a result of climate change. The United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that 200 million people will be displaced by climate change by 2050. Ms Ekra said the IMO had supported 500 projects on climate change adaptation to the tune of $ 280 million. No time to waste The Director of the RIPS, Professor Samuel Nii Ardey Codjoe, said migration could be key in the interplay of events linking climate change and security. A lecturer at the Department of Marine and Fisheries Sciences at the University of Ghana, Dr Kwasi Appeaning Addo, said countries needed to speed up their climate change strategies because “we do not have to waste time, as climate change is happening faster than predicted”. He said in an interview that a $13-million project sponsored by the International Development Research Centre, Canada, would consider whether migration could be used as an adaptation option in mitigating the effects of climate change.