Our aim for the 2018 Birmingham Friends of the Earth Art Competition is to raise awareness of ‘climate refugees,’ encouraging people to consider the disproportionate effects of climate change around the world.
It is thought that by 2020 there will be 50 million persons forced to migrate because of climate change or environmental degradation, expanding to a huge 150 million by 2050. Populations from the South Pacific to Central Africa, South Asia to South America, are affected by this particular plight; people are driven from their homes due to increased frequency and severity of natural disasters. Droughts, rise in seas levels, glacial melting and extreme weather events are causing mass displacement, within and between countries.
An individual forced to flee their country as a result of such events, will not recieve the same protective measures put in place for those who are fleeing for reasons such as war. As human activity continues to influence the environment, climate and ecology of our planet, we must heighten our sensitivity to, and capacity to recognize, its widespread impacts.
There is increasing acknowledgement for the systemic contributions of climate change to overall migration. Influencial reports argue, for example, that successive droughts in Syria had a profound negative impact on food security; a significant factor that produced the desperation and anger that has manifested itself throughout the Syrian war, an acute driver for contemporary migration. It is true that when added to existing social, economic and political tensions, climate change has the potential to ignite violence and conflict with disastrous consequences. However, we see far too often that environmental issue are overshadowed by instances of violence and conflict – a priorty reflected in international refugee law.
The consequences of climate change, are enormous. Scarce natural resources such as drinking water are likely to become even more limited. Many crops and some livestock are unlikely to survive in certain locations if conditions become too hot and dry, or too cold and wet. Food security, already a concern, will become even more challenging. Families and communities already suffer as a result of this, and are forced to leave their homes in search of a new beginning. Find accounts of this below:
We hope our arts competition, in some way, will encourage people to think specifically about the relationship between climate change and migration.
What does home mean to you??