World Migration Report 2010

The Future of Migration - Building Capacities for Change

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This Report focuses on the future of migration and the capacities that will be required by States, regional and international organizations, civil society and the private sector to manage migration successfully over the coming decades. Ten years ago there were 150 million migrants. Now, the number of migrants has grown to 214 million, and the figure could rise to 405 million by 2050, as a result of demographic disparities, environmental change, global political and economic dynamics, technological revolutions and social networks. This Report argues that it is essential for States to be able to develop the comprehensive knowledge and efficient, flexible institutions that they will need to promote and implement humane and orderly policies for the movement of people, now and in the future.

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Environmental change

Probably the best available data on environmental migration are the figures on the number of persons displaced by natural disasters. In 2008, for example, 20 million people were displaced as a result of sudden on set climate-related weather events, compared to 4.6 million internally displaced by conflict and violence. There is, however, no global database on migratory movements related to natural disasters. At best, there are estimates that can be derived from displacement data relating to particular crises. Although the number of disasters has increased significantly over the last two decades (natural disasters between 1990and 2009), there has not been a major impact on international migratory flows, as much displacement is short-lived and temporary, and those who are displaced do not have there sources or networks to migrate abroad. This is why it is often asserted that environmental change is likely to contribute to more internal rather than international migration. At the same time, it is important to bear in mind that, although extreme environmental events such as cyclones, hurricanes and tsunamist end to capture the media headlines, gradual changes in the environment are likely to have a much greater impact on the movement of people in the future. For example, over the last 30 years, twice as many people worldwide have been affected by droughts as by storms (1.6 billion compared with approximately 718 million).

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