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That weather-related catastrophes cause a lot of destruction is well known. But the prospect that increasing floods, droughts and storms will prompt many millions of people to migrate to safer areas is still poorly understood and anticipated, according to a forthcoming report from the Asian Development Bank.

“In the past year alone, extreme weather in Malaysia, Pakistan, the People’s Republic of China, the Philippines and Sri Lanka has caused temporary or longer-term dislocation of millions,” the organization, which is based in Manila, said on Monday, citing the study, which is to be released in early March. “This process is set to accelerate in coming decades as climate change leads to more extreme weather.”

No international cooperation mechanism has been set up to manage these migration flows, the bank warned, and protection and assistance plans remain “inadequate, poorly coordinated and scattered.” It urged national governments and the international community to urgently address this issue.

Forecasts of global migration related to environmental factors range from 150 million to 300 million people by the middle of this century, the Asian Development Bank said Monday, and the Asia-Pacific region is expected to be at the epicenter of this trend.

In a report in October, the bank warned that Asia’s coastal megacities would “flood more often, on a larger scale and affect millions more people,” if climate change brings rising sea levels, more intense tropical cyclones and storm surges.

Of the 10 most populous cities with heavy exposure to coastal flooding in 2005 that were cited in that report, five were in Asia: Mumbai; Kolkata, also known as Calcutta; Shanghai; Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; and Guangzhou, China. By 2070, nine of the top 10 cities in terms of population are expected to be in developing countries in Asia.

The resultant migration flows need to be addressed with “greater urgency” and receive “more attention from the region’s decision-makers,” the bank said on Monday.

“We still have an opportunity to get ahead of the curve on this issue in Asia and the Pacific,” said Bob Dobias, head of the Asian Development Bank’s climate change team.

 

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