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United Nations


9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College


Social Studies, Civics, Geography, English Language Arts

Resource Type

  • Articles and Websites

Regional Focus


Let's Talk About Climate Migrants, Not Climate Refugees

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United Nations

  • This article describes several reasons that people affected by climate disasters or climate change might not want to be classified as refugees.
  • The author outlines the challenges and drawbacks of this designation and suggests fully utilizing human rights laws currently available to help those who need or want to move to a new location.
Teaching Tips


  • The article includes personal stories to illustrate the human struggles associated with natural disasters.
  • Many statistics are used to describe the massive scale of this issue.

Additional Prerequisites

  • It would be beneficial to review vocabulary terms with the students to ensure understanding.
  • The article includes links for further information on the topics discussed.


  • Students can brainstorm ways to better protect and support climate migrants.
  • Cross-curricular connections can be made with science classes when discussing climate change, ecology, the water cycle, and ecosystems.
  • To connect this resource to social-emotional learning, students can journal about how it would feel to experience climate migration. Some students may have even experienced this before or know someone who has.
Scientist Notes

The resource underscores human migration pathways, projections, and mobility issues in the context of climate change and environmental degradation. It will deepen students' understanding on the differences between migration and climate refugees. The resource is recommended for teaching.

  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Civics
      • D2.Civ.12.9-12 Analyze how people use and challenge local, state, national, and international laws to address a variety of public issues.
      • D2.Civ.13.9-12 Evaluate public policies in terms of intended and unintended outcomes, and related consequences.
    • Dimension 2: Geography
      • D2.Geo.12.9-12 Evaluate the consequences of human-made and natural catastrophes on global trade, politics, and human migration.
      • D2.Geo.4.9-12 Analyze relationships and interactions within and between human and physical systems to explain reciprocal influences that occur among them.
      • D2.Geo.9.9-12 Evaluate the influence of long-term climate variability on human migration and settlement patterns, resource use, and land uses at local-to-global scales.
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