Climate change forces Guatemalans to migrate

Signal of change / Climate change forces Guatemalans to migrate

By Jordan McKay / 20 Nov 2018

Drought and increasingly erratic weather patterns are forcing Guatemalans to abandon their homes and farms. Both small and large-scale farms are struggling to maintain productivity and economic viability, resulting in food shortages and loss of jobs. This means that other non-agriculturally employed Guatemalans are forced to relocate as well. Research led by the UN World Food Program, paired with statistics from Customs and Border Control agencies in the region “suggest a clear relation between climate variability, food insecurity, and migration...” Guatemala, much of which lies in Central America’s arid corridor, is consistently ranked in the top ten nations most vulnerable to climate change. According to the Global Internal Displacement Database, during the last ten years, an annual average of 24 million people were displaced by weather events around the world, and experts predict these figures to rise.

So what?

One difficulty in handling mass migration is that international treaties and conventions like the UN’s 1951 Refugee Convention often don’t include measures or protocols for threats like drought and climate change . However, the planet will continue to warm and people will continue to migrate. How will the international community reach agreements regarding human migration? Should more international resources be allocated to drought mitigation and ecological restoration in regions affected, or should more resources be directed towards bolstering agriculture in more productive regions and aiding migrants in their new homes? Will wealthier nations adopt ever more stringent border protections and protectionist legislation? Alternatively, could leader nations emerge and pave the way for new post-Westphalian policies and economies better able to handle the 21st-century migration? What would those policies and economies look like?


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What might the implications of this be? What related signals of change have you seen?

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