The impact of climate change on low-lying island nations: a challenge for the international community : the case of Tuvalus climate refugees
Climate change is considered one of the major causes of migration flows. It has been estimated that by the middle of this century hundreds of millions of people will be forced to cross national borders as a consequence of sea level rise, desertification, floods, droughts (all effects attributed to global warming). The impact of climate change will be most acute for poor countries, in particular low-lying island nations whose existence is threaten by sea level rise. Particularly at risk is the small archipelago of Tuvalu in the South Pacific region which is likely to become the first country to be totally submerged by the ocean. The plight of Tuvaluans needs to be addressed urgently: people forced to leave their home lands as a consequence of climate-induced disruption should be recognised as climate refugees and resettled in safer countries. They will need more than a form of temporary protection; they should be granted a “permanent refuge” where to rebuild their lives. This work considers the lacunae of the existing legal international instruments in addressing the problem of climate displacement and proposes a new specific regime to fill these gaps. It looks at an international burden sharing system regionally implemented as the most adequate solution to ensure protection to people like Tuvaluans forced to abandon their lands as a consequence of irreversible environmental degradation.