Farmers gathered in Bangladesh learn how to use low-cost, organic pheromone traps that save money while protecting crops and the environment.

Climate Displacement

Since 2008, environmental disasters have displaced approximately three times more people than violence and armed conflict. Climate change will increase the intensity and frequency of disasters, making climate displacement a growing global challenge. 

But there is a legal protection gap for people fleeing climate-related disasters across and within borders because at this time, there are no multilateral treaties or domestic laws covering climate displacement and it is still unclear how international and regional refugee law applies to people displaced by climate change. 

IRAP is working to expand legal protections for climate displaced people. Using existing legal tools and building on our expertise providing legal services to refugees and displaced people, as well as our work on legal advocacy and impact litigation, we will identify and advocate for pathways to safety for people displaced by climate change.

Client Story: Isabel*

As climate change constricted usable land and resources in her homeland, Isabel*, an Indigenous environmental defender, mobilized her tribe against Honduran government officials’ attempts at illegal land grabs and natural resource theft. In retaliation for her activism, Isabel and her family were targeted with threats and violence. She was granted asylum in the United States on the basis of ethnic discrimination and political persecution, but too many climate-displaced people like Isabel struggle to access legal protections and pathways to safety.

*Name and image have been changed to protect client identity. Photo Credit: SHARE Foundation

A portrait of an Indigenous Honduran woman. Her hair is pulled back with a few wisps of curly hair around the crown of her head. Splotches of shadow and light dance on her face as she looks solemnly, yet softly into the camera.

Client Story: Amina*

Amina* and her family are among the millions of people worldwide already facing climate displacement. Her family depended on her husband’s agricultural work, but in their home country of Yemen, their livelihood was impacted by worsening water scarcity, on top of civil unrest. The family was able to escape to Jordan, but they continue to struggle, since her husband is unable to get work authorization, and the family faces ethnic discrimination as Yemenis. The family’s legal case hinges on threats they received from Houthi rebels in Yemen, but environmental factors played a key role in their displacement. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has not recognized them as refugees, and there are not yet any multilateral treaties or U.S. laws covering climate displacement. IRAP is working to change this, because too many people like Amina struggle to access legal protections.

*Name and image have been changed to protect client identity. Photo: © European Union/ECHO

A Yemeni woman with her back turned to the camera, fills a bucket with water from a communal tap.