Back to Articles | « Previous | Next »
Home » We must break the link between climate change and modern-day slavery

We must break the link between climate change and modern-day slavery

We must break the link between climate change and modern-day slavery

Imagine losing everything — your home, your job, maybe even your family — in an instant, in the flash of a flood or in the aftermath of a hurricane. Or watching as crops — the only source of livelihood — wither to the ground as once-fertile lands turn into desert.

Without a viable means of survival, you are forced to seek life elsewhere, becoming vulnerable to modern slavery, adding to alarming statistics on the rise. Today, 1 percent of the world is a “barely livable” hot zone. By 2070, that portion could go up to 19 percent, affecting millions more.

Climate change and modern slavery — an umbrella term that can include forced labor, forced marriage and people who are trafficked — arguably are two of the great crises of our times. But a closer look reveals they are bound together in a vicious cycle. If it remains unbroken, both are projected to increase dramatically in the coming decades. What if we could tackle both problems at once, by putting climate-change action at the heart of modern slavery prevention, and by supporting decent livelihoods as a core component of climate change strategies?

Over the past three decades, the number of migrants has doubled from the world’s 20 most “climate vulnerable” countries. These “climate migrants” are more likely to make risky decisions and to engage with exploitative recruiters who draw them into debt bondage and other forms of modern slavery. Exacerbating the cycle, victims are known to take work in industries like mining and forestry that are among the biggest climate and ecosystem offenders. The link is often illicit activity: in landscapes where illegal activity is occurring, such as deforestation, artisanal mining, or use of toxic substances in agriculture; perpetrators coerce vulnerable people into forced labor to get the work done.
Sticker