Thursday, March 20, 2014

Human Rights, Climate Change, Environmental Degradation and Migration: A New Paradigm

Climate change and environmental degradation are projected to displace millions of people around the world in the coming years, either directly or indirectly. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, a leading organization in the monitoring and analysis of displacement, estimates that in 2012 alone more than 32 million people were displaced by extreme weather events or the risk of rapid-onset disasters associated with natural hazards.

While today’s international legal framework provides a degree of protection to certain environmental migrants, there is little consensus on the definition of such migrants, in large part because it is difficult to ascertain with greater precision the relationship between environmental factors and migration. A precise definition is needed to promote recognition of environmental migrants’ vulnerability, identify gaps in the existing legal framework, and move forward in the conversation about their protection.

The issue brief, the latest in a joint series launched by the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) and the International Organization for Migration’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, evaluates the current human-rights framework and its implementation.

The brief, Human Rights, Climate Change, Environmental Degradation and Migration: A New Paradigm, also reviews legal options available to the international community to protect environmental migrants and recommends approaches for strengthening the current “soft law” approach.

It also touches upon the situation in Asia and the Pacific, looking specifically at the legal challenges posed by the submergence of small island states and effects on other climate-vulnerable countries, such as Bangladesh.


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