Why They Are Not Refugees

Climate Change, Environmental Degradation and Population Displacement


  • Roger Zetter


refugees, forced displacement, labelling, climate change, environmental degradation, rights resilience, resettlement


Increasing attention is given to the potential for environmental degradation and climate change to be instruments of population displacement. Those susceptible to displacement have been labelled ”environmental refugees”. Whilst recognising the importance of protecting livelihoods, societies and human rights of people who might be displaced, the paper challenges this label.

First the paper examines the derivation and origins of the label ”environmental refugees”. Second the paper challenges the conceptual, normative and empirical basis for this terminology. The final section highlights the three ”Rs” of ”rights”, ”resilience” and ”resettlement” as a more proactive and comprehensive framework for responding to the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation and the challenges of displacement





Zetter, R. (2017). Why They Are Not Refugees: Climate Change, Environmental Degradation and Population Displacement. Siirtolaisuus-Migration, 43(1), 23–28. Noudettu osoitteesta https://siirtolaisuus-migration.journal.fi/article/view/89696