Climate Justice Means Migrant Justice

22 June 2019

By 2050, over 1 billion people will be forcibly displaced from their homes, according to the Institute of Environment and Human Security of the United Nations University. Climate change is, and will continue to destroy infrastructure, forcing millions from their towns and cities. Yet no one is talking about climate migration. My generation will be forced to migrate on an unseen scale, yet the generation who caused the crisis fail to put protections in place to ensure our human rights and livelihoods.

This is terrifying for those living in developing countries and small island developing states. The reality is that they will be hit the hardest, but it is precisely those most affected who lack the resources of rich nations to quickly respond and adapt. 

When presented with ecosystem change, species have three potential options: they adapt, they move, or they die. Recognizing this, protecting climate migrants is of the utmost importance because when your home is gone, where do you go? For us, the answer is simple: countries with more space and resources must provide asylum and social integration. These are the same countries who have created the climate crisis, they have a historical debt to pay. But, this is a complex problem. Fascism is rising across developed nations.

In Latin America we are seeing waves of migration due to the ongoing conflict in Venezuela. In this case, there were no plans to address this issue and as a result, many governments closed their borders and installed migration policies that limit access for those needing asylum. 

In the case of war, it is relatively easy to examine the historical context and identify which countries owe a debt and therefore should have a strong inclusive migration policy. When it comes to climate displacement policies, this is even easier. We know exactly which countries are the big polluters. 

We must act now. Our generation is facing losses of an unimaginable scale. Our governments need to pursue and implement comprehensive and inclusive policies for those displaced by climate. If we keep ignoring their voices and blocking the issue in this space, we will see more conflict, loss of life and rise in anti-migrant rhetoric. We must urgently address the issue by adopting concrete policies, accessible structural bodies and mechanisms so that climate migrants can be protected. In other words, we need climate justice because climate justice means migrant justice. As it stands right now, those at risk will have nowhere to go and no one to protect them. 

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