Project: Environmental Migrants, The Last Illusion.
This project was supported and financed by IOM, the UN Migration Agency, and is the culmination of a five-year research project started in 2011.
Environmental migration is like an unexploded device: in the not-too-distant future, the entire planet will have to face the economic and social burden of its consequences. By 2050, one in 45 people will be an environmental migrant – 200 million people in total (source, IOM).
Some ninety percent of these migrants live in developing countries and most of them will not impact wealthy nations, but will instead look for new sources of income in the poorest urban areas of their home countries, the so-called slums, which are already overcrowded and extremely poor. According to a report by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, the number of new people forced to move within their own countries by climate disasters rose to the highest in at least a decade in 2020 and, World Bank projections indicate an estimated 143 million internal climate migrants by 2050.
In 2008, for the first time in history, there are more people living in cities than in rural areas and cities will continue to grow following the pace of a relentless urbanization process caused by climate change. Focused on rural-urban environmental migration, this multi-chapter project tells the fate of climate-induced migrants, creating a visual narrative capable of evoking a near future where humankind struggles to find a place to survive.
Mongolia, Bangladesh, Kenya, and Haiti are some of the countries most hit by the phenomenon of rural-urban environmental migration. I have focused on these geographical areas in order to tell about the various forms that climatic changes can take on a global level pushing shepherds, farmers, fishermen to abandon their ancestral life and to emigrate to an urban context. In my project, I use one narrative pattern: in every country, I compare the stories of people who struggle against environmental adversity in the countryside with the poor living conditions of the environmental migrants packed into the booming slums of capital cities. The title “the last illusion” refers to the hopes of the environmental migrants who escape from environmental stresses and look for chances of a better life in the city. However, once they get there, because of their lack of resources, skills, and opportunities, their dream of a favorable future turns into the “last of their illusions”.