Climate-driven migration in Africa

Europe is underestimating the primary cause of migration from sub-saharan Africa: climate change. Environmental changes have a particularly pronounced impact on migration from Africa for at least four reasons: the continent is highly dependent on natural resources and agriculture, which are the first assets to be undermined by climate change; it has poor infrastructure, such as flood defences; its states are often characterized by weak institutions, which are less able to adapt to climate change; and its high poverty rate undermines the resilience of local populations to climate shocks.

The Sahel belt, which is at the centre of EU efforts to combat illegal migration in Africa, is a useful case study in this regard. Here, environmental and demographic changes combine with devastating effects. Greenhouses emissions are on the rise, temperatures are increasing and, as a result, the intensity and frequency of catastrophic events is rising dramatically.

European Council on Foreign Relations