Climate-induced migration has become a global challenge. Climate change intensifies the frequency and severity of disasters, thereby increasing the number of people displaced by extreme weather events. Adverse climate impacts are already exacerbating patterns of human mobility, and will do so to a greater degree in the future. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC) reports that approximately 265 million people have been displaced by natural hazards since 2008. Over 17 million people were internally displaced by disasters in 2018 alone. While the majority of climate migrants are displaced within their home countries, many people are forced to move abroad.
The Caribbean region is particularly at risk in relation to climate-induced migration. The ten countries and territories worldwide with the highest average annual internal displacement per capita are all small island developing states (SIDS), the top six of which are located in the Caribbean. Although SIDS experience lower absolute displacement risk compared with more populous countries like India and China, SIDS experience significant displacement relative to their population size. For example, IDMC reported before Hurricane Dorian (2019) that 5.9% of Bahamas’ population will be annually displaced by hurricanes. Hurricane Dorian destroyed nearly half the homes on Great Abaco and Grand Bahamas islands. The 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season also demonstrates the extent of displacement risk in the Caribbean; three major hurricanes of the season – Harvey, Irma, and Maria – displaced approximately 3 million people in a single month.
Environmental Law | Law
Free-Movement Agreements & Climate-Induced Migration: A Caribbean Case Study,
Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia Law School, September 2019
Available at: https://scholarship.law.columbia.edu/sabin_climate_change/62