Environmental Refugees

One of the most pressing issues that climate change presents is the displacement of individuals and communities due to unmanageable changes in their home regions. While precise figures are difficult to calculate—the drivers for migration are multiple and complex, and are often tied into a suite of political, economic, and social drivers—the impacts associated with climate change such as increased flooding and sea level rise are poised to lead to increases in the involuntary relocation of millions of people, and in the cases of low-lying island nations such as Tuvalu and the Maldives, the permanent relocation of entire countries. “For some countries,” Khaleda Zia Begum, the former Prime Minister of Bangladesh, has said, “the impacts of climate change are lifestyle threatening, in others they are life threatening.” Initial estimates from 1995 claimed that 25 million individuals had already been displaced due to primarily environmental factors, a figure which was set to double by 2010.

See also: Heat Waves, Population Growth and Climate Change, Tipping Points

Further Resource
Rachel Morris. “What Happens When Your Country Drowns?” Mother Jones, Nov/Dec 2009.


Environmental Change and Forced Migration Scenarios (EACH-FOR). 2009.


Norman Myers. 2002. “Environmental Refugees: A Growing Phenomenon of the 21st century.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society

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