More than 1.2 billion people are at threat of being displaced by 2050, due to environmental change, conflict and civil unrest, warns a new report by think tank the Institute of Economics & Peace.
Predictions include that by 2040, 5.4 billion people – more than half of the world's projected population – will live in the 59 countries experiencing high or extreme water stress, including India and China.
The majority of these 59 countries are in South Asia, Middle East, North Africa, South-Western Europe, and Asia Pacific. Some of the worst affected countries by 2040 are expected to include Lebanon, Singapore, Israel and Iraq, while China and India are also likely to be impacted.
Given the past increases in water-related conflict, researchers warn that this is likely to drive further tension and reduce global resilience.
“Ecological threats and climate change pose serious challenges to global peacefulness. Over the next 30 years lack of access to food and water will only increase without urgent global cooperation. In the absence of action civil unrest, riots and conflict will most likely increase. COVID-19 is already exposing gaps in the global food chain,” commented Steve Killelea, Founder & Executive Chairman of the Institute of Economics & Peace.
Climate change increases the likelihood of weather-related natural disasters such as droughts. The report finds that flooding has been the most common natural disaster since 1990, representing 42 Percent of recorded natural disasters.
Floods and landslides in China during 2010 led to 15.2 million people being displaced. Flooding is also the most common natural disaster in Europe, accounting for 35 Percent of recorded disasters and this is expected to rise.
The report marks the 9 September launch of the Ecological Threat Register (ETR), which combines measures of resilience with comprehensive ecological data, to predict which countries are least likely to cope with extreme ecological shocks.
19 countries with the highest number of ecological threats are among the world’s 40 least peaceful countries, including Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Chad, India and Pakistan, researchers found.
“This will have huge social and political impacts, not just in the developing world, but also in the developed, as mass displacement will lead to larger refugee flows to the most developed countries,” Steve Killelea added. “Ecological change is the next big global threat to our planet and people’s lives, and we must unlock the power of business and government action to build resilience for the places most at risk.”