Climate change is a large issue. Its existence is widely accepted, though some of its effects are still debated. Environmental migration is one such effect that many are familiar with but few understand how much is at stake. It is known as a “black-boxed” subject.
We decided to focus on the issue of environmental migration because it is, at its heart, a very human issue. People leave behind their lives because the environment around them is no longer hospitable, be it due to sudden natural catastrophes or long drawn out environmental changes such as droughts.
We were curious as to who is there to help these people when they move and what protections they enjoy.
When we first began to research environmental migration we wanted to focus on the issue between skeptics and alarmists, those who doubt the existence of environmental migrants and those who estimate the number of migrants at more than 100 million people. But as we conducted our research we soon realized that there was even a more basic question to be answered. Who is an environmental migrant? Different actors, from governmental organizations to scholars use different terms and parameters to define an environmental migrant.
Some people feel that “environmental migration” is an incomplete term and prefer the term “climate refugee.” Others do not accept the term “refugee” or “migrant” and prefer the term displaced people.
Then there is another important question. What about people who move, but stay within the borders of their home country? Who should respond if these people cross international borders? What happens when they reach their destination? The answer to these questions depends entirely on the term used to define them. The essence of our controversy is the politics that accompany vocabulary.
Research question : How can we protect environmental migrants when we can’t even decide on a term to define them by? Or on who qualifies as one?
This website explores all of the questions. It provides a full picture of the question of definition for environmental migration. The hope is that the viewer emerges with an informed view of a controversial subject.