More than one billion people face displacement by 2050

  • More than one billion people face displacement by 2050

More than one billion people face displacement by 2050

An analysis released Wednesday by an worldwide think tank warns that as the world's population continues to climb toward and possibly surpass 10 billion by 2050, ecological disasters and armed conflict could forcibly displace roughly 10% of humanity-or about 1.2 billion people.

The Ecological Threat Register, conducted by the Sydney-based Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), projected that as many as 1.2 billion people around the world could be displaced by 2050.

The world population is forecast to reach almost 10 billion by 2050, putting further pressure on scarce resources and fuelling conflict, and the Ecological Threat Register shows that as many as 1.2 billion people living in vulnerable areas of Sub-Saharan and North Africa, South Asia and the Middle East may be forced to migrate by 2050.

The report found that 141 countries would be exposed to at least one ecological threat by 2050.

The report drew on data from global organizations like the United Nations, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and the IEP's prior research on countries' resilience levels.

The register groups the threats into two broad categories: food insecurity, water scarcity and population growth in one; and natural disasters including floods, droughts, cyclones, rising sea levels and rising temperatures in the other.

The report said that the world had 60% less fresh water available than it did 50 years ago, while demand for food was predicted to rise by 50% by 2050 and natural disasters were only likely to increase in frequency because of the climate crisis, meaning even some stable states would become vulnerable by 2050. "In the absence of action, civil unrest, riots and conflict will most likely increase". At the moment, only 1% of people are displaced and most seek refuge in a neighboring country. Since 2000, most incidents have taken place in Yemen and Iraq, which highlights the interplay between extreme water stress, resilience and peacefulness, as they are among the least peaceful countries as measured by the Global Peace Index 2020.

Countries such as Nigeria, Angola, Burkini Faso and Uganda are already faced with a plethora of ecological threats and high levels of poverty and are now expected to see rapid growth in population. "Now they are also going to be facing increased stress on their water and food supplies".

Steve Killelea, the founder of IEP, said that developed countries will also suffer from "huge social and political impacts" as displacement will lead to more refugees in those countries.

"Aid budgets will be hard in the next few years with the implosion of economies due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but there needs to be a rethinking to what is in a country's strategic interest", Killelea concluded. Currently, more than two billion people globally face uncertain access to sufficient food.

According to the latest research conducted on the basis of data from the United Nations and other organizations, the 19 countries facing the largest number of environmental threats, including Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Chad, India and Pakistan, are also among the 40 countries in the world that are most severely affected by violence and unrest. Given the past increases in water-related conflict this is likely to drive further tension and reduce global resilience.

Another key area of concern was the increasing risk of natural disasters due to climate change.

The analysis finds that Asia Pacific has had the most deaths from natural disasters since 1990 with more than 581,000.

At the top of the list with the highest number of threats are 19 countries that have to face four or more threats, comprising a combined population of 2.1 billion people, which represents about 25% of the total world population.