Skip to main content

Countries Facing the Most and Least Ecological Threats

In the next 20 years, billions of people will live in places where they face water stress, food insecurity and mass displacement.

Over one billion people live in 31 countries where resilience is unlikely to sufficiently withstand the impact of ecological events by 2050, contributing to mass population displacement.

That’s according to the Ecological Threat Register, a report by the Institute for Economics & Peace.

The 19 countries with the highest number of ecological threats are among the world’s 40 least peaceful countries and include Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Chad, India and Pakistan. By 2040, a total of 5.4 billion people – more than half of the world’s projected population – will live in the 59 countries experiencing high or extreme water stress, including India and China. Five billion people could suffer from food insecurity by 2050; which is an increase of 1.5 billion people from today, the report says. 

The lack of resilience in countries will lead to worsening food insecurity and competition over resources, increasing civil unrest and mass displacement, exposing developed countries to increased influxes of refugees.

The report, Ecological Threat Register 2020: Understanding Ecological Threats, Resilience and Peace considers eight major threats: population growth, water stress, food insecurity, droughts, floods, cyclones and rising temperature and sea levels. The report also uses IEP’s Positive Peace framework to identify areas where resilience is unlikely to be strong enough to adapt or cope with these future shocks.

The report categorizes countries as having low exposure, medium exposure and high exposure to threats: 141 countries are exposed to at least one ecological threat, with 19 countries facing four or more threats.    

The United States falls in the medium exposure category, with an Ecological Threat Register (ETR) count of 3, with water stress, hurricanes and flooding being major threats. In fact, while India had the highest number of people displaced by natural disasters in 2019, the U.S. ranked fifth, with 916,000 people displaced by 20 natural disasters that year. 

According to the report, the U.S. is considered a cyclone (hurricane) hotspot, and the U.S. recorded 704 natural disasters since 1990, the most of any country in the world and include drought, flooding, storms, high temperature events, and wildfires.

This list includes the countries that face the most and least ecological threats.