Drowned Out: The Troubles Facing Climate Refugees

Abstract

Climate Refugees are groups and individuals who, due to drastic environmental changes or limited adaptational resources, are forced to flee their homes and livelihoods. Climate refugees can be displaced within a nation, regionally and internationally, but present international and regional agreements to not provide substantial displacement assistance or protection of rights. Climate refugees are not protected directly under International Law, and are often seen by neighboring nations as a threat to sovereignty, security and stability. Notwithstanding the difficulty of defining such a diverse group, the fact remains that climate refugees already exist, and their numbers are expected to swell in the next 50 years. There are precedents in International Law that can be drawn upon, but the most effective response starts at the national level with rights protection. My argument is that the international community can best assist climate refugees from the national level upwards, focusing on local adaptive plans, regional migration agreements, and oversight by the global community.