Environmental Migration <sup>∗</sup>

Jane McAdam

in Global Migration Governance

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199600458
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191723544 | DOI:
Environmental Migration  ∗

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Environmental migration is not a new phenomenon. Natural and human-induced environmental disasters have displaced people in the past and continue to do so. Nevertheless, the environmental events and processes accompanying global climate change threaten to dramatically increase human movement both within and across State borders. Estimates suggest that between 200 and 250 million people will be displaced by environmental causes before 2050. The environmental impacts of climate change have been signalled as the key driver of this anticipated surge in migration.Evidently, migration on this unprecedented scale demands a multilateral institutional response. Yet, environmental migration governance represents a significant challenge, not least because the content and parameters of the concept continue to be debated. There is at present no internationally agreed definition of what it means to be an environmental ‘migrant’, ‘refugee’, or ‘displaced person’, and, consequently, no agreed label for those affected. Questions of definition have clear governance implications, informing the appropriate location of environmental migration both procedurally—as an international, regional, or local, developed and/or developing country concern/responsibility—and thematically—for example, within the existing refugee protection framework or under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The viability and value of institutionalizing international cooperation and collaboration on international migration matters generally, and environmental migration particularly, depends upon how that phenomenon can and should be formulated as a discrete concept in law and policy. Taking a legal perspective, this chapter grounds its normative analysis in a thorough examination and assessment of the existing institutions and political processes that impact upon environmental migration and States' responses to them.

Keywords: environmental migration; climate change; UNFCC; international cooperation; public international law; complementary protection; refugees

Chapter.  16308 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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