Climate refugees: how does the international community and the European Union deal with climate-driven migration

Climate change threatens the most basic human needs, from food and water to human settlement patterns. Climate change is expected to trigger increased population movements within and across borders, as a result of increasingly extreme weather events, sea-level rise and the acceleration of environmental degradation. In addition, Climate change will have an impact on livelihoods, public health, food security, and water availability. This in turn will have an effect on human mobility, likely leading to a substantial increase of migration and the displacement of people.

New Zealand have recently shown willingness to take a ‘pragmatic and humane approach’ to climate driven migration by proposing to establish a humanitarian visa for ‘climate refugees’. Whilst not considered specifically for ‘climate refugees’, the European Parliament has called on the European Commission to present a legislative proposal on European Humanitarian visas.

This year, we want to shed light on the issue of climate induced migration through the project ‘Dealing with climate induced migration – the right to stay, the right to protection and the right to leave’. The projects aim is to raise awareness of climate induced migration and how it relates to the current International and European legal framework. This seminar is the first part of the project and where we through an open seminar with inputs form experts and stakeholders aim to initiate a pragmatic and nuanced discussion about possible solutions lying ahead. Building on the report ‘Dealing with climate induced migration – finding durable solutions – humanitarian visas’, this seminar will focus on the existing legal framework in the European Union and the lack of adequate protection for migrants affected by climate change. What are the benefits and drawbacks of a broader European protection definition and could humanitarian visas be the solution for the protection of ‘climate refugees’?

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