10.4.6.3 Climate extremes and migration
In Asia, migration accounts for 64% of urban growth (Pelling, 2003). Total population, international migration and refugees in Asia and the Pacific region are currently estimated to be 3,307 million, 23 million, and 4.8 million, respectively (UN-HABITAT, 2004). Future climate change is expected to have considerable impacts on natural resource systems, and it is well-established that changes in the natural environment can affect human sustenance and livelihoods. This, in turn, can lead to instability and conflict, often followed by displacement of people and changes in occupancy and migration patterns (Barnett, 2003).
Climate-related disruptions of human populations and consequent migrations can be expected over the coming decades. Such climate-induced movements can have effects in source areas, along migration routes and in the receiving areas, often well beyond national borders. Periods when precipitation shortfalls coincide with adverse economic conditions for farmers (such as low crop prices) would be those most likely to lead to sudden spikes in rural-to-urban migration levels in China and India. Climatic changes in Pakistan and Bangladesh would likely exacerbate present environmental conditions that give rise to land degradation, shortfalls in food production, rural poverty and urban unrest. Circular migration patterns, such as those punctuated by shocks of migrants following extreme weather events, could be expected. Such changes would likely affect not only internal migration patterns, but also migration movements to other western countries.
Food can be produced on currently cultivated land if sustainable management and adequate inputs are applied. Attaining this situation would also require substantial improvements of socio-economic conditions of farmers in most Asian countries to enable access to inputs and technology. Land degradation, if continued unchecked, may further exacerbate land scarcities in some countries of Asia. Concerns for the environment as well as socio-economic considerations may infringe upon the current agricultural resource base and prevent land and water resources from being developed for agriculture (Tao et al., 2003b). The production losses due to climate change may drastically increase the number of undernourished in several developing countries in Asia, severely hindering progress against poverty and food insecurity (Wang et al., 2006).