CARE BLOG

A Call to Action for Negotiators at Bonn

6/3/09

Last night, CARE and UN University presented a jointreport on climate induced migration at the UN climate meetings in Bonn. More than 80 people attended the event, including negotiators from the Bangladesh, Mexico, Denmark, Maldives, and Australia delegations. Given the turn out, it was a great opportunity for us to share with key negotiators our advocacy messages about the importance of a strong global climate agreement.

UN University interviewed 2,000 people in 24 countries. Across the board, people who were interviewed reported that environmental stressors are already a major driver of migration. What the report shows us is that climate change will put unprecedented pressure on people to migrate. The numbers of people migrating will be at a scale never before seen in history.

Take the example of Egypt. If sea levels rise two meters over Egypt”s Nile Delta, land that is home to 10.7 million people, or a quarter of Egypt”s population, will be inundated. Some 518 hectares – a third of the delta”s farmland – will disappear under water. This will put an enormous amount of pressure on people”s ability to secure a decent livelihood, and they may be forced to migrate.

This case study in Egypt underscores a very important message. Negotiators at Bonn, including the US delegation, have an opportunity to reduce the risk ofclimate-induced migration. They can reduce the odds of dangerous sea level rise in places like Egypt and around the world by negotiating a strong UN climate agreement with immediate, aggressive and scientifically sound emissions reductions targets. It”s about investing in prevention, and not waiting to address the challenge until large numbers of people are forced to migrate.

There is an equally important way that climate negotiators can reduce the risk of climate-induced migration at the scale that is projected in the study. They can arrive at an agreement that will help build the resilience of especially vulnerable populations and people so that they do have choices, they can secure their livelihoods, and they are not forced to migrate. Negotiators need to agree on robust financing for adaptation in developing countries. That financing must reach people who need it most. The global climate agreement must also be enshrined in the principles of inclusive, transparent and participatory decision making. Especially vulnerable populations and people must have a voice. This will make the agreement, once it is put into practice, profoundly more effective.

We will keep drumming this message at these negotiations.

Yours truly,

The CARE climate change team in Bonn

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