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The Next Migrant Wave

The world is even less prepared for future migrants fleeing the effects of climate change than Europe is for the current wave of people arriving at its shores. The climate threat cannot be overstated: if sea levels rise by more than one meter, entire populations of Pacific island-states may have to relocate.

MANILA – Imagine that you are a farmer. Your crops are withering as weather patterns become more volatile, your well water is too salty to drink, and rice is too expensive to buy at the market. So, you leave home in search of a better life.

Millions of people in vulnerable communities around the world do not have to imagine such a scenario. They are living it now, as an increasingly unpredictable climate takes its toll; and their numbers are likely to soar as the effects of climate change intensify.

But the world is even less prepared for these future climate migrants than Europe is for the current wave of people fleeing from the Middle East and North Africa. Most climate migrants will relocate within their own borders, but others will have no choice but to seek refuge abroad. If sea levels rise by more than one meter, entire populations of Pacific-atoll and reef-island countries might have to relocate.

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