Date of Award

Fall 2021

Degree Type



Political Science

Director of Thesis

Dr. Breanne Grace

First Reader

Dr. Caroline Nagel

Second Reader

Dr. Caroline Nagel


In 2021, the World Bank predicted that six regions, Sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia and the Pacific, South Asia, North Africa, Latin America, and Eastern Europe and Central Asia, would produce as many as 216 million climate migrants by 2050.[1] Both slow-processes, like rising sea level and land degradation, and sudden onset events, like cyclones and floods, will worsen existing vulnerabilities and create higher rates of forced displacement around the world. Since those escaping the consequences of global warming are not escaping direct ‘persecution,’ they fall through the cracks of current legal protections. These barriers to refugee status raise questions about how international organizations can remedy displacement caused by climate change. Migrations are increasingly complex in a globalized world, and restrictions on refugee status will cause significant suffering among people who hold little responsibility for climate change. My research examines how UN organizations frame the issue of climate-induced migration in their policy pages and recent reports to argue that securitizing climate migrants allows developed countries to deflect responsibility from opening their borders and making cross-border migration more accessible.

[1] “Millions on the Move in Their Own Countries: The Human Face of Climate Change,” World Bank Group, September 13, 2021,

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© 2021, Clare Steiner