Defining ‘environmental migration’

Terms and concepts such as environmental migration, climate change-induced migration, ecological or environmental refugees, climate change migrants and environmentally-induced forced migrants are found scattered throughout the literature. The main reason for the lack of definition relating to migration caused by environmental degradation or change is linked to the difficulty of isolating environmental factors from other drivers of migration. Another major hindrance lies in the confusion of forced versus voluntary migration. Is environmental migration inherently a form of forced displacement? Can it take the form of voluntary relocation? What about government resettlement schemes in anticipation of or following an environmental disruption? Does the distinction between forced and voluntary matter? These questions impact on typologies of environmental migration and cannot be easily circumvented.

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