Habitat for Humanity calls on G7 leaders to prioritize access to adequate shelter in informal settlements amid rising climate migration

APULIA, ITALY (June 12, 2024) — Today, Habitat for Humanity International released an issue brief, Slum Blind: The overlooked links between climate migration and informal settlements. The brief focuses on the more than 215 million people who could be impacted by climate migration by 2050 and how it will affect the lowest-income and most rapidly urbanizing countries the most – particularly within informal settlements.  

Most of the public discourse on migration centers on international refugees crossing borders into higher-income countries. Additionally, most climate change discussions focus on mitigation and adaptation efforts in places where families currently live. The issue brief outlines that these narratives add to a growing blind spot in the form of climate-induced migration within developing countries toward urban informal settlements, which are already vulnerable.  

Already, most migration does not cross international borders and by 2050, two out of every three people in the world are expected to live in cities. The bulk of this growth is predicted to occur in Asia and Africa where 80% of the world’s informal settlements are located. More than 1.1 billion people currently live in informal settlements, and those areas will continue to be strained by population growth due to climate migration.

Ahead of the G7 Summit in Apulia, Italy, from June 13-15, Habitat for Humanity urges G7 members to prioritize informal settlement upgrading as an opportunity to address human mobility while increasing climate resilience. Investing in informal settlements and advancing policy changes can contribute to building climate-resilient cities.  

Specifically, Habitat for Humanity is asking that the G7 take three actions to better manage the impacts of climate migration on informal settlements: 

  1. Ensure alignment and strategic localization of global investments into underserved urban areas. 
  2. Incorporate human settlement upgrading into responses for climate migration. 
  3. Promote investments in global data and climate modeling frameworks that are slum-aware, not slum-blind. 

“We know that increasing access to adequate shelter in informal settlements can be a catalyst for improved health and education outcomes for the families that live there, as well as economic benefits for countries,” said Habitat for Humanity International Chief Operating Officer Patrick Canagasingham. “But now we see that already vulnerable informal settlements are going to be further strained by climate migration. The time is now for G7 members to act and prioritize informal settlements to ensure more families have a decent place to live, safe from the impacts of climate change. If the G7 fails to address this issue, we will see greater inequity, more lives lost and less economic growth.” 

Habitat for Humanity International shared this brief as part of its Home Equals campaign. Launched last year, the five-year advocacy campaign seeks policy changes at the local, national and global levels to increase access to adequate housing in informal settlements. Thus far, the campaign has unlocked $77 million in government funding and earned 49 policy changes in 12 countries. More than 3 million people have gained or improved access to adequate housing through the Home Equals campaign to date.   

About Habitat for Humanity

Driven by the vision that everyone needs a decent place to live, Habitat for Humanity found its earliest inspirations as a grassroots movement on an interracial community farm in south Georgia. Since its founding in 1976, the Christian housing organization has since grown to become a leading global nonprofit working in local communities across all 50 U.S. states, Puerto Rico, and more than 70 countries. Families and individuals in need of a hand up partner with Habitat for Humanity to build or improve a place they can call home. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. Through financial support, volunteering or adding a voice to support affordable housing, everyone can help families achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build better lives for themselves. Through shelter, we empower. To learn more, visit habitat.org.