Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: April 25, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963893 | Print ISBN: 9781412958783 | Online ISBN: 9781412963893| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
IN THE LAST 10 years, the issue of environmental refugees has emerged as a pressing issue. Most refugees are fleeing from natural disasters such as the Asian tsunami in 2004, or as a result of the impacts of global climate change, such as sea level rise. As the executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) noted in 1989, “as many as 50 million people could become environmental refugees if the world does not support sustainable development.” Since then, many studies have considered this topic, with Norman Myers (one of the leading thinkers in this field) estimating that environmental refugees will soon become the largest group of involuntary migrants. One of the difficulties in managing the issue of environmental refugees is their classification. The 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees classifies a refugee as a person who, “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons ...