Research Handbook on Climate Change, Migration and the Law

Benoit Mayer and Françrois Crépeau, eds., Research Handbook on Climate Change, Migration and the Law (Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, October 2017)

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Concerns have arisen in recent decades about the impact of climate change on human mobility. Many people affected by climate change are forced or otherwise decide to migrate within or across international borders. Despite its clear importance, many questions remain open regarding the nature of the climate-migration nexus and its implications for laws and institutions. In the face of such uncertainty, this Research Handbook offers a comprehensive picture of laws and institutions relevant to climate migration and the multiple, often contradictory perspectives on the topic.

Carefully edited chapters by leading scholars in the field provide a cross section of the various debates on what laws do, can do and should do in relation to the impacts of climate change on migration. A first part analyses the relations between climate change and migration. A second part explores how existing laws and institutions address the climate-migration nexus. In the final part, the chapters discuss possible ways forward.

This timely Research Handbook provides much-needed insight into this complex issue for graduate and post-graduate students in climate change or migration law. It will also appeal to students and scholars in political science, international relations, environmental studies and migration studies, as well as policymakers and advocates.

Critical acclaims

‘The breadth and depth this book brings to the legal issues surrounding climate-related displacement and migration are simply unmatched. The contributors explain the conceptual difficulties in identifying ”climate migrants,” analyze the weaknesses in the current legal and institutional framework, identify gaps, and propose innovative solutions. The volume should be read by everyone interested in the topic, from those learning about it for the first time to policymakers trying to address one of the most difficult challenges climate change poses.’

John H. Knox, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment and Wake Forest University, School of Law, US

‘While many publications on the climate change-migration nexus present a specific and oftentimes narrow approach to this topic, Mayer and Crépeau succeed in bringing together a wealth of different and sometimes contradicting perspectives. The Research Handbook is a comprehensive and thought-provoking collection of high-quality contributions and thus essential reading for everyone interested in the current state of art in a field that addresses one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century.’

Walter Kälin, University of Bern, Germany


  1. Benoit Mayer & François Crépeau: Introduction
  2. Robert McLeman: Climate-related migration and its linkages to vulnerability, adaptation, and socio-economic inequality: evidence from recent examples
  3. Calum TM Nicholson: “Climate-induced Migration”:  ways forward in the face of an intrinsically equivocal concept
  4. Carol Farbotko: Representation and misrepresentation of climate migrants
  5. Christel Cournil: The inadequacy of international refugee law in response to environmental migration
  6. Elizabeth Ferris: The relevance of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement for the climate change-migration nexus
  7. Siobhan McInerney-Lankford: Climate Change, Human Rights and Migration: A Legal Analysis of Challenges and Opportunities
  8. Ademola Oluborode Jegede: Indigenous peoples, climate migration and international human rights law in Africa, with reflections on the relevance of the Kampala Convention
  9. Maxine Burkett: International Climate Change Law Perspectives
  10. Sébastien Jodoin, Kathryn Hansen & Caylee Hong: Displacement Due to Responses to Climate Change: The Role of a Rights-Based Approach
  11. Benoit Mayer: Climate change, migration and the law of State responsibility
  12. Erika Pires Ramos & Fernanda de Salles Cavedon-Capdeville: Regional responses to climate change and migration in Latin America
  13. Gervais Appave, Alice Sironi, Mariam Traore Chazalnoël, Dina Ionesco & Daria Mokhnacheva: Organizational Perspectives: IOM’s role and perspectives on Climate Change, Migration and the Law
  14. Sophia Kagan, Meredith Byrne & Michelle Leighton: Organizational Perspective from the International Labour Organization
  15. Alex Randall: Engaging the media on climate-linked migration
  16. Katrina M. Wyman: Ethical Duties to Climate Migrants
  17. Chloé Anne Vlassopoulos: When climate-induced migration meets loss and damage: A weakening agenda-setting process?
  18. François Gemenne: The Refugees of the Anthropocene
  19. Frank Biermann & Ingrid Boas: Towards a Global Governance System to Protect Climate Migrants: Taking Stock
  20. Ilona Millar & Kylie Wilson: Towards a Climate Change Displacement Facility
  21. Susan F. Martin: Towards an extension of complementary protection?
  22. James C. Hathaway: Afterword


  • By Melina Duarte, in (2019) 10(2) Journal of Human Rights and the Environment 243-248: “in many ways, an outstanding book. In a collection of 20 chapters, authored by experts from different fields and geographical backgrounds, the book compiles the most recent perspectives on the debate surrounding the development of legal protection to climate-induced migrants.”
  • By Lyonette Louis-Jacques, in (2018) 46(2) International Journal of Legal Information 124-127: “read cover to cover, the reader can see the connectedness of the chapters, the different approaches to tackling similar issues, and the challenges for policy- and lawmakers.”