Environmental change and international migration

A review

Authored by: Luisa Veronis , Bonnie Boyd , Reiko Obokata , Brittany Main

Routledge Handbook of Environmental Displacement and Migration

Print publication date:  March  2018
Online publication date:  March  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138194465
eBook ISBN: 9781315638843
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter reports findings from a systematic review of 183 scholarly articles published in the English language on the environmental change-international migration nexus spanning the period from 1989–2015. We organized the articles into five main categories: (1) empirical research, (2) theoretical/conceptual frameworks, (3) legal papers, (4) policy papers, and (5) literature reviews. In addition to descriptive statistics regarding disciplinary affiliations, world regions, and types of environmental factors examined, we review the main debates and emerging issues among articles within each category, as well as discussions among scholars about appropriate institutional frameworks and policy responses. We observe a growing plurality of approaches and perspectives, which is contributing to increasingly complex and enriched understandings of the linkages between environment and migration. We also note a growing number of securitization discourses on migration and environmental change, a move toward depoliticization of discussions about climate change-related migration, and increasing calls for practical policy responses; given such trends, a key challenge scholars face is how to reconcile these increasingly divergent scholarly perspectives so as to enable the generation of progressive policy responses in practice.

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