Rising sea levels to displace 13.6M Pinoys by 2050

Posted at 03/14/2012 9:49 AM | Updated as of 03/14/2012 9:49 AM

MANILA, Philippines - At least 13.6 million Filipinos are at risk of being displaced due to a rise in sea levels in the Philippines by 2050, according to the latest climate change report released by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Tuesday.

The report, launched in Bangkok and titled “Addressing Climate Change and Migration in Asia and the Pacific,” said the Philippines was considered “one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change.” It ranks 5th globally in terms of number of individuals affected by sea-level rise.

Data cited by the ADB also showed India has the most number of people that may be affected by rising sea levels; as much as 37.2 million of its citizens may be affected by climate change by 2050.

“The environment is becoming a significant driver of migration in Asia and the Pacific as the population grows in vulnerable areas, such as low-lying coastal zones and eroding riverbanks,” said Bindu Lohani, ADB vice president for knowledge management and sustainable development, in a statement. “Governments should not wait to act. By taking steps now, they can reduce vulnerability, strengthen resiliency, and use migration as an adaptation tool rather than let it become an act of desperation.”

The report said adaptation to climate change through the year 2050 has been projected to cost $40 billion in the region.

Rising sea levels may lead to coastal flooding which will likely affect communities in these areas. In Southeast Asia, most of these communities are found in Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, the report said.

The problem is seen to be exacerbated by tropical cyclones. Countries in Southeast Asia that are especially vulnerable to strong cyclones are Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. In the Philippines, northern and eastern parts of the country are also often exposed to these cyclones.

The ADB said migration has been and will become a means of adaptation to the communities living in these places. The report recommended that governments must invest heavily on urban infrastructure and basic services. There is also a need to protect migrant rights and to provide migrants with equitable access to education, health, water and sanitation.