Projecting Future Climate-Induced Migration: Lessons from the Groundswell Report and New Applications

Bryan Jones , CUNY Institute for Demographic Research (CIDR)

The 2018 World Bank report, Groundswell: Preparing for Internal Climate Migration, introduced a novel method for projecting potential future climate-induced internal migration using a gravity-based statistical model that accounts for climate impacts on certain livelihoods. The first of its kind model is estimated by establishing the historic relationship between spatial population change and climate-driven impacts on livelihoods (e.g., agriculture, pastoralism, etc.). Using this information in conjunction with climate and socio-economic scenarios, the model then projects spatially explicit, sub-national migration and hotspots. In the report, we find dramatic differences in internal migrant totals across scenarios, suggesting that early policy intervention may be key to averting the potential “migrant crises” associated with worst-case-scenario outcomes. Additionally, we find that many of the poorest and most climate-vulnerable regions (e.g., heavily populated regions of Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia) are likely to bear disproportionate negative impacts rendering immediate, geographically targeted action and comprehensive planning critical. Subsequent to the Groundswell report several new, regionally specific analysis were developed, highlighted by application of a refined version of the original Groundswell model. In addition to improving spatial and temporal resolution, recent applications considered a more inclusive set of drivers, including demographic characteristics of the population, spatial features of the built environment, flood risk, and the spatial distribution of conflict. This paper/presentation will explain the methodology developed for the Groundswell report, review key findings, and discuss subsequent model enhancements and applications. We report specifically on ongoing work in West Africa and Central America.

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 Presented in Session P999. Development, Environment and Space