Climate Change and Youth Migration in Nepal

 In News

Climate change is one of the most serious public policy debates across the globe, and its effects, such as the relation between climate change and youth migration in Nepal, is worthy of examination.

There are many controversies regarding different climate projection models, but most accepted models are those stating that greenhouse gas emissions is the major cause behind global warming.

Floods, landslides, erosion, temperature and the amounts of rainfall over short periods of time are on the rise, and all are examples of climate change and global warming. These events are unpredictable in nature.

The effects of climate change are more alarming in developing countries like Nepal, regardless of the fact that it contributes very negligible amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. Climate change affects poverty, employment, health and nutrition and socially vulnerable groups, which includes children, youth, women, marginalized groups and the elderly. Climate change-induced weather extremes and environmental degradation increase these groups’ vulnerability.

Global warming, along with unpredictable weather patterns, has led to the outbreaks of pests that damage crops as well as decreasing agricultural productivity and increasing natural resource depletion. Altered weather patterns are hindering livelihoods that rely on the agriculture, cutting off income-generating sources in poor communities and increasing the fight for survival.

This is giving rise to various dimensions of conflict and deprivation. The conflict forces much pressure on non-renewable natural resources (fossil-fuels) and its consequent depletion because those resources have been inherent part of present luxury-oriented lifestyle and are fixed in amount.

As written above, young people, children and women are most vulnerable to climate change. For young people, one of the most serious effects of climate change is migration. Migration is the movement of people from one place to another place for settling temporarily or permanently. It is not just the environmental issues like storms, mudslides, floods and earthquakes that prompts migration; it is rather due to the complex, interrelated issues of climate, demography, environment and socio-economic concerns.

Amid climate uncertainty and socio-economic conditions fueled by politics, Nepalese youths are migrating south from climate-affected mountain regions. In Nepal’s case, youth start migrating from the age of 12.

Though Nepal is an agricultural nation, the nation is represented by poor, subsistence farmers. They don’t have sufficient finance or the resources to adapt to climate changes. This is a very serious issue in a nation which is both agricultural and one of the most climate-vulnerable countries in the world.

These farmers are often referred to as the ‘trapped population’ and are compelled to live under harsh conditions and cannot migrate, as the trapped population doesn’t have enough funding for migration. The trapped ones contain children, young people, adults and adolescents who are not only responsible for incomes in their families, but also the means for adaptation to the changing climate.

Thus, Nepalese young people are among the most vulnerable in the context of climate change because with the decrease in agricultural production due to climate change, the risk of youth being used by different interest groups as well as their own cadres increases in the turbulent atmosphere of Nepalese politics. Young people join those groups in the hope of employment and food.

It has been made clear that young people of Nepal are one of the most vulnerable sections in Nepal due to climate change. With the increase in climate uncertainty and prolonging political instability, Nepalese youths are bound to migrate to either to the south or abroad in the hopes of greater income and climate-friendly environments.

But the government and concerned agencies need to be careful about the section of population who are trapped. As internal and external remittances are playing crucial role in Nepalese economy, the government of Nepal can invest a significant part of youth remittance to the trapped youth population and vulnerable areas.

Youths who migrated are already involved in sending remittances from the south of Nepal or from abroad. Investing some part of this income from youths for other youths in climate vulnerable areas may be a good idea.


www. 6 Climate Change Problems.

Climate change and Human Development issue paper #3, Seventh African Development Forum – Acting on Climate change for sustainable development in Africa

Schraven_Introduction-Chapter-16-and-17, Environmental Degradation, climate change, migration and Youth

Martin Susan, Donald G. Herzberg Professor of International migration, Georgetown University “Migration and Youth: Challenges and opporutunities” Edited by Jeronimo Cortina, Patrick Taran and Alison Raphael on behalf of Global migration Group.

Article submitted by Niraj Koirala. Niraj has been actively working in the field of youth rights in Nepal and advocating at national level since earning his BSc in Agriculture. He is currently doing his PhD in Economics at Texas Tech University. Niraj has also been a dedicated PCI Task Force Member for well over a year. 

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