Climate change has far-reaching and devastating consequences for communities throughout Asia. Emerging research in environmental and migration studies shows that peoples living in the Asia-Pacific region are twice as likely to be at risk of displacement due to severe climate hazards such as floods, fires, droughts, and typhoons. Alarmingly, nine out of the top ten countries in the world most threatened by climate change are in Asia. The Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) cites that the Philippines is ranked as the country with the highest risk of experiencing multiple climate hazards out of anywhere in the world, followed by Japan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, China, Indonesia, India, Vietnam, and Pakistan. At the same time, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates that by 2050 the world will see approximately 200 million climate migrants, most of whom will be displaced in Asia.
As large Asian cities such as Bangkok, Jakarta, Manila, and Shanghai become further submerged, the seriousness of climate hazards and the resulting migrations they cause are amplified by nations with weaker capacities to mitigate and manage climate disasters. During a time when climate change contributes to slow-onset events such as sea-level rise, ocean acidification, waterways pollution, haze pollution and loss of arable land, humanitarian crises and forced displacements will intensify in the coming century. Current migration frameworks are not equipped to protect environmental migrants, as there are no international legally binding agreements obliging countries to offer protection to those forcibly displaced by climate disasters. This roundtable brings together a transdisciplinary group of climate, migration, policy, and environmental experts who are all conducting community-based research on emerging trends in the climate-induced displacement of peoples in Asia. The panelists will discuss and synthesize current and emerging research on the environmental migrant crisis in Asia and offer solutions, suggest precautions and issue a call for urgent research on this unfolding crisis.