A new book published by UNU-IAS and UNESCO analyses the impacts of climate change and displacement on the right to education in Asia and the Pacific — the global region most impacted by natural disasters and climate change. Asia-Pacific Regional Synthesis: Climate Change, Displacement and the Right to Education provides guidance for policymakers to ensure education is protected, by applying a human rights-based approach.
The book presents case studies in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Tuvalu, and Viet Nam, examining specific and common vulnerabilities to climate change and related mobility. It shows that climate change threatens education both directly — through the destruction of schools and property – and indirectly, by forcing people to cross borders, ensuring neither legal residency nor the right to education. The book offers evidence-based recommendations for building national education systems that are resilient to the impacts of climate change and ready to ensure the minimum learning disruption for all ages during displacements.
Based on research conducted by UNU-IAS and UNESCO in 2021, the book is accompanied by publications on two other climate change “hotspots” — Latin America and South-Eastern Europe. These regional analyses will inform the development of a report with global policy recommendations.
Key takeaways from the book include the following:
- The Asia-Pacific region faces a wide variety of climate hazards and weather extremes, whose effects are now driving human displacement – either directly by destroying human settlements or indirectly through climate-driven loss of livelihood and subsequent forced migration.
- Five displacement patterns are identified in the region: (i) temporary displacement following sudden-onset disasters; (ii) permanent migration to urban settlements; (iii) government-planned relocation; (iv) cross-border migration; and (v) trapped populations.
- Each displacement scenario entails different barriers to education. A lack of financial resources is the key factor across all scenarios, hindering access to quality education during and after displacement. It can take years for families to recover from loss of property and assets due to weather-related disasters and displacement, or to receive support for their losses. Many families are thus forced to prioritize economic security over their children’s education.
- Climate change and climate displacement exacerbate existing educational inequalities and barriers to education, and more adversely affect the financially disadvantaged, girls and women, rural communities, those with pre-existing health risks, and persons with disabilities.
- For those facing forced migration – both internal and cross-border, administrative barriers, lack of documentation, residency requirements, and language barriers impede full access to quality education.
- Among the five countries studied in the region, only Bangladesh, with its National Strategy on the Management of Disaster and Climate Induced Internal Displacement, has a comprehensive, national-level policy that explicitly ensures the right to education for those displaced by climate change. This strategy could serve as a model for other countries in Asia and the Pacific.