Top urban news, trends and reports curated for the world’s city leaders. Edited by David Hatch

Will climate change spur an exodus from Asian cities?

Thousands of people in the Philippines were displaced by a typhoon this week. Some say stronger storms caused by climate change may cause a reverse migration out of some Asian cities. (ERIK DE CASTRO/Reuters /Landov)

The historic mass migration from rural areas into Asian cities is well documented. Fueled by a desperate search for jobs and a better life, millions of villagers have poured into cities in India, China and elsewhere.

Vaidehi Shah reports for that the next migration wave could be an exodus from cities—as slum dwellers flee the ravages of climate change.

“Climate-linked migration is unique because these movements are involuntary and those who move are among the most vulnerable in society,” Shah writes. The trend has implications not just for safety but also economic security. Yet policymakers have failed to recognize the severity of the situation, she warns. There is no legal definition for “climate refugee” and no agency or global push to aid climate migrants. 

Floods, storms, heat waves, coastal erosion, drought and natural disasters are among the events that could accelerate this human wave. Flood-prone and impoverished, Dhaka is one of several Asian megacities susceptible to climate change. Last year, an estimated 19.3 million people worldwide were forced to relocate due to disasters. Nearly 87 percent were in Asia, the article notes. 


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