On the move: According to the international think tank IEP, 1.2 billion people are predicted to be displaced globally by 2050 due to climate change. Taking into account the effect of climate displacement on (inter)national security and life, how can the EU tackle the effects of environmental migration?

Submitted by: Sophia Biermann, Belle Boswijk, Anouk Bus, Claudia Caisley, Job van der Duijn, Anna Huitema, Madelief Oosterveld, Tin van der Voort, Marjolijn Webb, Kaitlyn van der Weerd, Elsa Nautsch (Chairperson, CH)

The European Youth Parliament aims to affirm the legal rights and protection of ‘environmental refugees’. It seeks to ensure the protection of refugees while relieving pressure on southern EU Member States disproportionately affected by the increase in migration flows due to climate change. Simultaneously, it intends to tackle the effects of climate change on the population. 

The European Youth Parliament,

  1.  Recognising the increase in the likelihood of extreme weather events as the leading cause for ‘environmental refugees’ by 83% over the past 20 years, 
  2. Deeply concerned that the number of people projected to be displaced due to sea level rise alone by 2050 is 150 million globally
  3. Conscious of the fact that climate change disproportionately affects countries relying on agriculture which causes internal migration from rural to urban areas resulting in food insecurity, overcrowded cities, and potential enhancement of internal existing conflict,
  4. Noting with deep concern the heightened likelihood of violent conflict and vulnerability to terrorist organisation recruitment due to increased competition over livelihood resources,
  5. Noting with deep concern the lack of legal recognition of  ‘environmental refugees’ in the 1951 Refugee Convention leading to an absence of valid ground for an asylum request, 
  6. Alarmed by the inconsistency and inefficiency of the Temporary Protection Directive and the application of the principle of non-refoulment as a means of asylum granting for ‘environmental refugees’,
  7. Regretting the inconsistent approach to implementing the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) amongst Member States, 
  8. Deeply regretting that the EU has 920,700 pending asylum applications as of October 2022 as a result of a long application process,
  9. Deeply disturbed by the unequal distribution of refugees in European countries due to:
    1. larger flows into countries in closer proximity to Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) States,
    2. the lack of willingness of governments and the public to accept refugees, 
  10. Deeply disturbed by the  50.000 deaths since 2014 as a result of the lack of protection for unprecedented numbers of refugees and the absence of safe migration routes,
  11. Expressing our satisfaction with the European Climate Law binding Member States to follow the Green Deal;
  1. Invites Member States to share research into carbon emissions and climate mitigation technology such as early warning systems and response methods globally;
  2. Recommends the European Commission to allocate funds to NGOs such as Climate Refugee to:
    1. distribute resources in MENA states,
    2. facilitate knowledge sharing on resource management, infrastructure, and agriculture;
  3. Asks the European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA) to appoint a Fundamental Rights Officer to ensure Member States reach the common standard of accommodations for asylum centres;
  4. Encourages Member States to establish new refugee camps and asylum accommodations in or near urban areas;
  5. Urges the European Commission to amend the definition of ‘refugee’ in the Recast Qualification Directive to encompass individuals who have left their countries due to environmental factors;
  6. Advises the European Commission to include ‘environmental refugee’ in the implementation of projects such as the Refugee Awareness Project across all Member States; 
  7. Calls upon the EUAA to ensure an EU-wide consistent approach to implementing the CEAS in Member States by:
    1. clarifying aspects of the CEAS frequently interpreted differently amongst Member States,
    2. establishing a EUAA sub-body with the task of keeping track of the implementation of the CEAS;
  8. Requests the European Commission to strictly enforce the EUAA set time limit of 6 months to make a decision on an asylum application and decrease the number of exceptions regarding this time limit granted;
  9. Calls upon the EUAA to facilitate the equal distribution of refugees and their integration in their host countries by:
    1. monitoring the numbers of expected refugees to reach EU territory;
    2. assessing Member States’ capacity to handle migration flows;
  10. Encourages the European Commission to cooperate with Member States and humanitarian organisations to ensure the safety of refugees by increasing the provision of first aid and basic necessities along popular migration routes within EU territory.

Fact sheet

Migration: Migration is the movement of a person either across an international border or within a state, voluntarily or involuntarily for more than one year.

Refugee: A refugee is a person who is outside of the country of nationality because of a well-founded fear of prosecution because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a particular social group and thus is unwilling to or cannot return to said country.

Asylum: Asylum is a form of protection given by a state or territory to an internationally or nationally recognised refugee.

Principle of Non-Refoulment: The principle means that countries have an obligation to protect and welcome an individual if their life is in danger in their country of origin. In late 2019, the United Nations Human Rights Committee accepted that climate change does impose such a serious threat on people’s lives and that the principle of non-refoulment is applicable.