As early as 1990, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) noted that the greatest single impact of climate change might be on human migration – with millions of people displaced by shoreline erosion, coastal flooding, and agricultural disruption. After three decades of research and scientific evidence-gathering, climate change is now considered an existential crisis where displacement and forced migration due to climate impacts is one of the key challenges that the governments are facing across the globe.

With climate change impacts and associated disasters on the rise a staggering number of people are being displaced or forced to migrate to survive. Globally, in 2019, a total of 33.4 million new displacements associated with disasters and conflicts has been recorded across 145 countries and territories of which 24.9 million were triggered by disasters, – 23.9 million were weather-related, and the rest 8.5 million by conflict. Bangladesh, one of the countries that is most at risk to climate change impacts in the world, has been dealing with disasters and associated impacts particularly displacement and migration for decades. Between 1980 and 2008, it experienced 219 disasters causing loss and damage over USD16 billion. Cyclone Sidr alone displaced at least 3 million people and between 2008 to 2014, disasters displaced over 4.7 million people. In recent years, the number of weather-related hazards has increased due to climate change impacts causing a rise in displacement and migration. In 2017 more than 436,000 people were displaced in Bangladesh by torrential rains that flooded a third of the country for several weeks. The 2019 flood impacted people of 21 districts in Bangladesh damaging an estimated population of 580,000 and displacing more than 307,000 people who were still trying to recover from 2017 flood.

This research is part of the South Asia Migration and Climate (SAMAC) project, funded by the European Union through the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) managed project — Improving Migration Management in the Silk Routes Countries — in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, implemented by ActionAid, in collaboration with Climate Action Network South Asia (CANSA), and its partners.