At first glance, the links may not be readily perceived. But when we look a little deeper, we see how the great web of connections plays itself out. Pope Francis has spoken out powerfully about these two global phenomena. “Human trafficking is an open wound on the body of contemporary society, a scourge upon the body of Christ. It is a crime against humanity.” In a meeting last month with Cristiana Figueres, the lead climate negotiator for the United Nations, the Pope confirmed that he would deliver a Papal Encyclical on the environment and climate change early in 2015. In his conversations with Ms. Figueres, the Pope referred to climate change as a social justice and human rights issue.
So just where is the connection between these two grave sins against humanity – and Earth?
- According to Dr. Guy McPherson, Professor Emeritus of Natural resources, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona, “Peer-reviewed research continues to show that climate change underlies poverty, and that poverty drives human trafficking. If we want to get at the root of slavery, it seems we’re neglecting one of its deepest layers.”
- According to the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), human trafficking increases by 20% to 30% during disasters. Their report highlights “…certain difficulties faced by some women, particularly those in Asia’s mountainous regions, in adapting to climate change – such as lack of formal education; poverty; discrimination in food distribution; food insecurity; limited access to resources…”
- According to Trafficking Project, there is a cycle between environmental degradation and trafficking – people can be trafficked for labor that harms the environment, or as the result of environmental issues, such as flooding; water scarcity; receding coastlines. Environmental degradation places additional burdens on those who are already most vulnerable to trafficking.
For more information, please see The Intersection Between Environmental Degradation and Human Trafficking on our Resource page.