Conceptualizing environmentally displaced people : A comparative case study of Bangladesh and Tuvalu 

University essay from Linnéuniversitetet/Institutionen för samhällsstudier (SS)

Abstract: Despite extensive research on the effects of climate change on the displacement of populations, there is a lack of clarity in how environmentally displaced people should be conceptualized. As yet, there is no legal international definition agreed upon. There is however a broad debate on conceptualization, scholars whom argue that these people can be defined as environmental refugee whereas other scholars criticize the definition of a direct link between environment and displacement. This research explores this debate through a comparative case study that examines the implications of climate related displacement for two countries: (i) Bangladesh and (ii) Tuvalu. The case draws on the theoretical debate around displacement, together with a theoretically derived model of environmental displacement.   The findings consider how climate change will affect Bangladesh and Tuvalu and focuses on the countries’ national efforts to respond - efforts that call out for the international community to help and take responsibility. An analysis of the conceptualization of environmentally displaced people shows the difficulty of defining this status, due to the lack of an established international definition. In particular it means a lack in knowing who has the responsibility to protect these people now, and in the future. In a world where climate change will continue to affect both people and nature it is of importance to clarify these areas. By contributing to the topic of climate related displacement this study therefore brings forward the importance of the need for conceptualizing environmentally displaced people to give them the protection needed. 

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