South Asia’s Climate Crisis

Bangladesh and India are facing an imminent climate crisis. The South Asian nations have experienced the worst flooding in decades, particularly in low-lying states. The flooding has displaced over 9.5 million people across both countries. Scientists have stated that rising temperatures across South Asia due to climate change have made the summer monsoon season more variable and unpredictable. This year, India and Bangladesh consequently saw heavy rain beginning in March and April.

Climate change and heavy flooding across South Asia have detrimental economic effects, disastrous humanitarian implications, and potential regional security implications. This highlights the need for more effective disaster mitigation policies at the international and local levels.

Key Judgement 1: It is highly likely that climate change in India and Bangladesh will severely affect the countries’ economies over the next 3 years.  

  • 85% of Bangladeshis and 58% of Indians rely on agriculture as the primary source of livelihood. Excessive flooding has left farmers unable to grow and sell crops. Because farmers live in isolated areas, they become increasingly economically unstable with each natural disaster. (source)

  • Additionally, continuous flooding in Bangladesh and India has had federal economic implications; repairing the damage caused by flooding is incredibly expensive. Bangladesh does not have the economic resources to repair damages before another flood occurs. Previous floods in both India and Bangladesh have cost several billion dollars. (source)

Key Judgement 2: It is highly likely that recent flooding and severe drought will exacerbate both countries’ preexisting humanitarian issues in the next 3 years.

  • Heavy flooding has impacted already vulnerable communities the most. Many journalists and aid workers report that recent flooding has destroyed many homes in various villages.

  • The United Nations reports that approximately 17% of people residing in Bangladesh will need to relocate in the next decade due to global warming. It is estimated that by 2050, one in seven people in Bangladesh will become displaced due to rising sea levels. (source) (source)

  • In both countries, natural disaster has led children to leave school to enter the workforce. As many families flee low-lying, flood-prone regions to urban centers, many children are working as laborers in shipyards, garment factories, and in domestic situations to help provide for their families. According to the International Labor Organization, climate change will lead to inter-generational cycles of poverty. (source)

Key Judgement 3: It is likely that environmental erosion will have negative implications for regional and international security in the South Asia region in the next 3 years.

  • Climate has historically not been a primary driver of conflict in South Asia. However, as natural disasters worsen across the subcontinent, it is likely to exacerbate preexisting geopolitical and economic issues between nations.  (source)

  • Cross-border movements across Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan are a major point of contention and have historically triggered immense conflict and violence. Climate-induced migration across these borders, especially by marginalized and vulnerable populations may destabilize South Asia. (source)

  • It is imperative that climate refugees have proper legal protection to help mitigate imminent climate-related conflict.

Intelligence Cut-Off Date: July 21, 2022

Taylor Huson
Taylor Huson
Taylor is a graduate student obtaining a Master’s degree in Human Rights and Politics at the London School of Economics. She previously graduated with a Master’s degree in International Security from George Mason University and is interested in the intersection of military technology, global security, and human rights.

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