There are growing concerns and discussions around the link between climate change and the forced displacement of communities and people across the world. Whilst climate disasters might immediately and directly force people to leave their homes, other implications of climate change might indirectly result in people having to seek sanctuary elsewhere.
With the United Nations Climate Change conference, COP 26, being hosted in Glasgow in October-November 2021 there has never been a better time for students to learn about and reflect on the relationship between climate and migration. We have therefore compiled this page of suggested activities and resources to help teachers address this topic in the classroom.
Climate Change and Migration: Where and who? (KS2, KS3, KS4)
- Write climate change and migration on the board. Ask students what link they think there is and where in the world this is a current issue.
- Split the class into groups: ask each group to research the role of climate change in different parts of the world and its links to migration. Suggested places include:
- The Sahel
- The Pacific Islands: see the Marshall Islands and Kiribati for example
- Students should answer the following questions:
- How is climate change impacting this place?
- What does this mean for the people?
- Where are the people migrating?
Who is a Climate Refugee (KS4)
There is currently no recognized definition for who constitutes a climate refugee.
- Ask students how they would define a climate refugee and what are potential challenges.
- Get students to read the following article. What are the tensions and difficulties in defining a climate refugee? Climate refugees: how many are there? How many will there be? (climatemigration.org.uk)
- After having discussed the tensions and difficulties, get students to compose a definition in two sentences. Why would they use this definition?
Existing Teaching and Learning Resources
Two reading and comprehension activities with an extension discussion task from the Morningside Centre for Teaching Social Responsibility. KS3 and KS4.
A lesson plan and video developed by the British Red Cross to learn about the impact of climate change in the South Pacific. KS3 and KS4.
A lesson plan with links to relevant readings and article by the New York Times. A little US-centric. KS3/4.
A lesson plan, presentation, worksheet, quiz and map focused on the human impact of climate change from the Met Officer. KS2. Also available in Welsh.
A lesson plan and associated resources from the United Nations Development Programme with a useful map showing the impacts of climate on different parts of the world (i.e. flooding, drought, etc). KS3.
A collection of resources within The Walk Education and Activity Pack which includes suggested classroom activities, an infographic comparing disaster related displacement to conflict-related displacement, case studies from different countries. KS2/KS3.
Young People’s Stories
In this video, three young people from the US with Marshallese heritage share their observations of the impact of climate change on the Marshall Islands.
Other Resources For Facts and Figures
The UNHCR’s take on climate change, disasters and their link to displacement, including details of their activities in this area.
A database of environmental migration statistics
An accessible report about the relationship between climate change and displacement, including case studies from different parts of the world. KS4/KS5.