Bangladesh is the world's most vulnerable country to climate change-related risk factors, according to a new Asian Development Bank (ADB) report released yesterday.
"Asia and the Pacific have six of the world's 10 countries most vulnerable to climate change. Bangladesh tops this list, followed by India (2nd), Nepal (4th), the Philippines (6th), Afghanistan (8th) and Myanmar (10th)," the report said.
The report titled 'Addressing Climate Change and Migration in Asia and the Pacific' notes that more than 42 million people in the region were displaced by environmental disasters over the past two years alone.
An undetermined number of those displaced became migrants, unable to return home or choosing to relocate to safer ground.
By 2020, 13 of the world's 25 mega cities, most of them situated in low-lying coastal areas, will be in Asia and the Pacific. In many mega cities, more than half the population is crowded into densely populated slums that lack basic protective infrastructure.
Climate change will worsen existing vulnerabilities, exposing millions to flooding and the threat of displacement.
About a third of Southeast Asia's total population lives in areas at-risk from coastal flooding, and increasingly severe storms in recent years have taken a severe toll in many countries, the ADB report said.
Hundreds of millions of people in South Asia live in environmental hot spots, including exposed low-lying coastal cities and deltas.
Increasingly severe storms, droughts and rising sea levels linked to climate change are likely to cause rice and wheat output slump, and undermine scarce water resources.
"This is likely to accelerate already substantial levels of migration in the region, especially in Bangladesh," the report said.
The ADB report is among the first to identify policy responses to the impacts of environmental events on migration in Asia and the Pacific.
It points out that while most migration will continue to take place within countries, greater cross-border movement is also foreseen and governments will need to cooperate more closely on migration matters.
The report identifies existing international agreements, guidelines, principles, and dialogue forums that can be more effectively used to improve migration management.
Climate adaptation costs for Asia-Pacific nations are estimated at a staggering $40 billion through 2050, and while there are environmental funds, none are currently dedicated to addressing climate-induced migration issues.
The report recommends governments work with the private sector to introduce sea level index-based insurance, catastrophe bonds and weather derivatives to draw investors into financing and managing the risks posed by climate change.