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Migration, security critical to climate change

Published:Thursday | June 4, 2015 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin

As the impacts of climate change become more evident, Hinrich Tholken, head of the Division on Climate and Environmental Foreign Policy, in addition to Sustainable Economy, at the German Federal Foreign Office, has urged policy makers to consider issues of migration and security as critical aspects of climate change.

Addressing a group of journalists during a climate change training workshop in Berlin, Germany, recently, Tholken stressed that it was critical that small island developing states, in addition to other vulnerable countries, implement mechanisms to build their resilience.

"There is concern that climate change might induce migration. When we look at countries such as Bangladesh, which is densely populated and which has seen repeated storms and the population continues to grow, eventually people will want to find somewhere else to go because they will begin to lose their territory due to unforeseen events," he declared.

"We are also finding that many of the migrants that come to Europe these days, that are found on ships and the Mediterranean Sea, come from poor countries. I must point out that these countries are not poor mainly because of economic factors, but climate change is impacting the make-up and development process of many areas, and so we have to begin to think about these issues," Tholken said.

Jamaica, in addition to other Caribbean islands, is considered to be most vulnerable to the emerging threat of sea-level rise, hurricanes, drought and other issues linked to climate change.

He also pointed out that issues of security can become problematic if resilience is not strong enough.

"There has been no war about water so far, but it is quite imaginable that this commodity might become a hot security issue. There have been cases where military threats have been made to a neighbouring country because of a project that was implemented that could reduce water flow. Therefore, we have to look deep into the issues," the climate expert advised.


Focus 'fragile economies'


In the meantime, Tholken made reference to a new report by the Group of Seven (G7) countries, titled A New Climate for Peace', which highlights the need for a renewed focus on what they describe as 'fragile economies'.

The G7 countries include Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, and the United States.

"The most concrete point out of this report is that the G7 should make an extra effort to assist fragile economies. It should not be about finance alone, but making a sustainable contribution to projects that are undertaken in these areas with the aim to transform development," he said.

"We have to ensure that financing is done in a sustainable way and look at projects that will help reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, because it will be very critical in the future," he charged.