Environmental Conservation


Environmental refugees: a review

Rajendra Ramlogana1 c1

a1 c/o Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England, UK


The purpose of this paper is to explore the phenomenon of ‘environmental refugees’. The emergence of refugees within the framework of international law and policy is examined briefly so as to provide insight into the juridical difficulties environmental refugees can expect to confront. The literature on environmental refugees is steadily growing and the very definition of who qualifies as an environmental refugee has undergone great changes. The evolving nature of the definition and its increasing complexity is reviewed; the result being that environmental refugees can now be placed into several well-defined groupings, each with its own idiosyncratic characteristics. These increasingly distinctive groups of refugees can have as debilitating consequences as other types for receiving societies. The nature of this threat must be looked at fully in order to emphasize the urgent need to arrive at appropriate solutions. Finding solutions to a new crisis is not a simple task as many people fiercely oppose recognition of environmental refugees. Yet, failure to act may prove detrimental to human well-being as the emerging evidence points to a state of affairs that may haunt humankind in the twenty-first century.

(Received November 14 1995)

(Accepted March 08 1996)


c1 Mr Rajendra Ramlogan, 99 Hills Road, Cambridge, CB2 1PG, England, UK. Tel: + 44 1223 353 416