A new book published On Monday argues that the mass human displacement expected to be caused by climate change can be prevented and repaired through policies focusing on ensuring access to land for those affected.
Land Solutions to Climate Displacement, edited by leading international human rights and climate change expert Scott Leckie, is based on field work in more than a dozen frontline countries already grappling with climate displacement including Bangladesh, Fiji, Kiribati, Panama, Papua New Guinea, and Tuvalu.
It is the first publication to attempt to calculate the precise amount of land resources that will be required to provide new land and livelihood options for the growing number of people forced to flee their homes.
“We and our many associates have found that a four-step approach to climate displacement, comprised of national and international land acquisition, planned and voluntary relocation, creating new national agencies and expanding political will, if implemented properly, can greatly reduce both the scale and suffering associated with this new form of coerced movement,” Mr Leckie said.
The book’s compelling argument is that many aspects of climate displacement can be successfully resolved with land-based solutions and rights-based improvements in domestic housing, land and property law and policy.
The global scale of climate displacement is expected to dwarf today’s levels of displacement, which UNHCR recently announced were higher than at any time since the end of the Second World War.
The fieldwork, which led to the production of the book, was funded by the German Government.
“Our book clearly shows that far from running out of land, the world still has more than enough available land to provide for the needs of those facing and living with climate displacement,” Mr Leckie said.
“Taking our high estimate of one acre per household reveals that all that is required is the equivalent of 1/736th of the landmass of planet Earth, a mere 0.14% of our planet’s surface, (roughly the same size as Uganda) would facilitate rights-based solutions to climate displacement.
“If we use our second scenario (one-quarter of an acre per household) we come to the equivalent of 1/2944th of the Earth’s land surface, or 0.03% of the world’s land surface.”
The book estimates that anywhere between 12.5 million to 50 million acres of land would be a reasonable estimate of the physical amount of land that would be required to provide various land-based solutions to the world’s climate displaced population.
“If governments and people everywhere finally take climate displacement seriously, this is a global crisis that can be prevented, prepared for and ultimately fixed in a way that is affordable, just and consistent with the rights of those affected,” Mr Leckie said.
Scott Leckie is an author, international lawyer, academic and the Executive Director of global NGO Displacement Solutions, which has led international efforts to protect the rights of climate displaced persons.