Environmental Migrations Without Environmental Migrants? Perceptions and Policies on Environmental and Mobility Issues

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Environment, migration and asylum are among the most socially constructed issues of the 21st century. The intersection of these issues has recently gained institutional recognition in diverse UN frameworks and conventions. Despite the reiterated importance to research and develop policies on environmental migrations, the identification of “environmental/climate refugees/migrants” has been discouraged (IPCC, Foresight), considering the difficulty of isolating the environmental factor within mobility drivers, and the non-identification with such labels by some of the people which could be paradigmatically affected by environmental and climate changes. This paper brings into discussion the results of qualitative Ph.D. research work (the author benefited from a Ph.D. grant by FCT from 2011 to 2015 (SFRH/BD/68730/2010). This article was made with the support of CICS. NOVA - Interdisciplinary Centre of Social Sciences of the Universidade Nova de Lisboa, UID/SOC/04647/2013, with the financial support of FCT/MCTES through National funds) developed with Ethiopians and Eritreans in Italy and Cape Verdeans in Portugal. The aim is to explore the reflexivity of migrants and refugees from countries with environmental risk, observing their representations of environmental factors in the countries of origin, interrelated with other drivers of mobility (mainly economic and political), and the framing within their experiences of mobility towards Southern Europe. Putting these issues into perspective can be useful for the reflection about policies addressed to environmental migrations, which will be reviewed in this paper, highlighting some gaps between global political aims and meanings of mobility and the environment for migrants and refugees.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTheory and Practice of Climate Adaptation
Subtitle of host publicationClimate Change Management
EditorsF. Alves, W. Leal Filho, U. Azeiteiro
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-72874-2
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Africa
  • Europe
  • Environmental migrations
  • Migrants and refugees
  • Policy development
  • Qualitative research


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