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Climate Change Refugees in the Time of Sinking Islands

Updated: Dec 17, 2019

Author: Jane Steffens


While environmental migration is not a new phenomenon, the international community has been slow to react to a wildly increasing number of people displaced by climate-related factors. With the current scenario of sinking islands, rapid urbanization, and drought, the international community seems to be on the precipice of a massive humanitarian catastrophe. Even so, lawmakers appear hesitant to fill in the gaps of existing international law, leaving an entire category of people vulnerable and unprotected against the effects of climate change. Private climate-governance initiatives can achieve large-scale, prompt, and efficient solutions to climate-induced migration. While private governance initiatives lack the breadth and power of international agreement, they can bypass current government inaction and provide protection to climate change refugees while international lawmakers work toward a meaningful response. A private governance solution requires both companies and individuals to challenge normative views that only the government can represent the broadest public interest and effectuate real change.


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