There could be 200 million “climate refugees” by 2050, according to new policy paper by the International Organization for Migration, depending on the degree of climate disturbances.
The areas of the world to be most affected first include South Pacific islands and low-lying areas in Bangladesh and nations in the Indian Ocean. The leader of the Maldives has begun seeking a safe haven for his 300,000 people. Landlocked areas may also be affected; some experts call the Darfur region of Sudan, where nomads battle villagers in a war over shrinking natural resources, the first significant conflict linked to climate change.
In the coming days, the United Nations is expected to adopt the first resolution linking climate change to international peace and security. The hard-fought resolution, brought by 12 Pacific island states, says that climate change warrants greater attention from the United Nations as a possible source of upheaval worldwide and calls for more intense efforts to combat it. While all Pacific island states are expected to lose land, some made up entirely of atolls, like Tuvalu and Kiribati, face possible extinction.
The social impact of climate change has been one of the key themes identified recently by IFSW President David N Jones : ‘the social consequences of climate change will have a real impact on us all’, Jones has recently been quoted as saying.. ‘Everyday social work practice will be affected. Social workers already know that global social movements have a real impact in the homes of people we meet, affecting family relationships and creating social problems. Climate change will affect the very basics of life and peace – water, food, energy and land.’ In an appeal to the United Nations, Jones has requested that ‘Governments anticipate the consequences of climate change and act together to create a world where all can thrive’.
This issue will be a central focus of the 2010 World Social Work Conference in Hong Kong.