Increasing population density has direct impacts on achieving the SDGs. Indeed, 50% of the world’s population today lives in urban areas. By 2050, it is estimated that this percentage will rise to 70%. Urbanization has had a negative impact on many aspects of sustainability: high population density puts increasing pressure on infrastructure to provide clean water and energy, air pollution and waste have reached historic highs (United Nations, n.d.). On top of all this, the climate crisis is causing a slew of disasters such as floods, droughts, and pandemics, which the UN estimates will displace 1 billion people by 2050 (United Nations, n.d.).
Climate refugees will begin to flee their home countries in search of more climatically stable environments. Many urban areas will be severely affected by climate change, while those less affected are expected to accept large numbers of climate refugees.
On the one hand, this strains the infrastructure and capacity of communities to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change. On the other, it strains the capacity of infrastructure and communities to accommodate refugees in an equitable and inclusive manner (Institute for Economics and Peace, 2020).