Nguyen Hoang Tram Anh is a young Vietnamese actively involved on the question of environmental migrations in Vietnam. She participated to the National Model ASEAN Meeting 2017 as a delegate
and volunteered in IOM Youth programs to protect migrants. She advocates for more education and action towards the situation of climate migrants in Southeast Asia.
“I am Tram Anh. I come from Danang, Vietnam. One of the problems that I care most about is migration. My interest in migration has been raised when I began to acknowledge that every moment in this planet there are millions of migrants, suffering because of many reasons and their human rights, their healthcare rights have been violated. Luckily, I had the chance to take part in Model ASEAN Meeting in Danang 2017 where I had to act like a politician to debate with 10 member
states about one of the urgent problems that ASEAN is facing. This was “Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers in ASEAN”. Then I participated in “Youth forum on Migration” of IOM
Vietnam. Now, I know about the term “environmental displacement”, “environmental migrants”, or even “climate change refugee” through Vietnam National Model ASEAN Meeting 2017 with the topic “Anticipating Enviromental Displacement of People in Asean due to Global Climate Change“.
Honestly, though I cared about migration, I hardly noticed that environment and migration had a link before. But now I can understand thoroughly why we need to protect environment. It’s not just for our living habitats, but it’s for the livelihood of millions of people, for the survival of our planet. The U.S decision to leave the Paris Agreement made me worry.
South East Asia is expected to be severely affected by the adverse impacts of climate change since most economies are relying on agriculture and natural resources. According to Center for Global Development, in 2010 and 2011, 42 million people in the Asia Pacific were displaced due to disasters caused by climate change. By 2030, if sea level rises by 15 centimeters, big cities such as Ho Chi Minh City, Jakarta, Manila and Bangkok would be flooded and face lack of fresh water due to salt intrusion. These numbers tell us it’s time to seriously tackle environmental displacement that will ultimately happen.
First, global warming causes environmental catastrophes such as drought, flood, tsunami, etc. that damage ecosystem. Loss of ecosystems and degradation threaten the economic, social and cultural stability of ASEAN since rural populations are dependent on such ecosystems. Also, El Nino phenomenon that is caused by climate change triggers not only reduction of rainfall but also higher temperature that makes coral reef bleach. More importantly, potential increased coastal hazards such as large tidal variations, cyclones and high rainfall will adversely affect the livelihood of millions people and infrastructure in the coastal zone. Losing natural habitats is one of the main reasons of human displacement.
Second, due to climate change, irrigation systems in agriculture will be affected by changes in rainfall and runoff and subsequently, water quality and supply. Moreover, temperature increase may threaten agricultural productivity and reducing yields. A 2015 Asian Development Bank (ADB) study estimated that economic losses from climate change will result in 11% lower gross domestic product (GDP) across ASEAN by 2100. With limited adaptive capacity, poor people in rural areas who depend on agriculture will choose to migrate to find other sources to sustain their lives.
Disasters are recognized as a principal cause of displacement. People displaced endure family separation, losing their property and experiencing trauma. Sexual abuse and rape are unfortunately common among women displaced. Furthermore, climate-induced displacement is likely to exacerbate existing challenges caused by rapid urbanization in ASEAN since the damage of agricultural farmlands has encouraged rural dwellers to migrate to cities.
To protect the livelihood of millions people residing in areas less than one meter above the sea level and prevent chaos in newly migrated areas, ASEAN nations need to work together and find a long-term solution to build an adequate disaster management framework, enhance communities’resiliency and reduce the likelihood of environmental migration.
Last but not least, while the U.S is the world’s second-largest source of carbon dioxide emissions and still decided to withdraw from
Paris Agreement, it never stops the great effort of ASEAN on the journey of combating climate