In The Observer yesterday, Professor Alexander Betts highlighted the complete omission of environmental displacement from the recent United Nations climate change discussions in Paris. This omission, particularly striking in a year when refugees and migration have been high on the political agenda, is symptomatic, he says, of the ‘compartmentalised’ way in which politicians and media approach many global issues.
He writes, “Remarkably, the global focus on refugees was insufficient to influence the debate in Paris. When we shift our attention so dramatically, we risk missing important analytical connections and, with them, opportunities for meaningful solutions. To be clear, the so-called European refugee crisis was certainly not caused by climate change. But it is symptomatic of a global protection crisis, with climate change as one key component.” This crisis is, he argues, “a reflection of a growing gap between the contemporary nature of displacement and the institutions that govern forced migration.”
He goes on to argue that responding to “the 21st-century realities of people moving around the world...requires us to escape traditional silos. Policy responses cannot be found simply through European justice and home affairs policies. The root causes of displacement are inextricable from broader issues of the environment, development and security.”