It is thus clear that not all climate-induced displacement is the same and that such differences need to be accounted for within any normative framework applicable to climate-induced migration. These specific situations include persons moving across internationally recognized state borders in the wake of sudden-onset disasters; persons moving inside or outside their country as a consequence of slow-onset disasters, such as sea-level rise, prolonged drought, or desertification; and persons moving across internationally recognized state borders in the wake of their place of origin being designated as a high-risk zone too dangerous for human habitation.

To better account for the ways that food insecurity can be the proximate cause of mass displacement through interactions with a host of other dynamics, including the climate crisis, this report asserts that “food refugee” protections need to be regarded as a useful proxy in situations where the climate crisis may have been a factor. This report defines “food refugees” as those peoples who have been forcibly displaced due to growing food insecurity caused by foreign military intervention, armed conflict, political and civil unrest, and/or environmental challenges. Yet this report recognizes that “food refugees” are a product of the interaction between these dynamics and trade liberalization, lax tariffs, subsidies, and cash crops. These trade policies set the stage for many developing countries to become importers of food crops and exporters of cash crops for consumption in the Global North.

Thus, this report extends this definition of “food refugees” to peoples forcibly displaced by circumstances perpetuated by land grabs, seed monopolies, natural resource grabs, global warming, the increased commodification of food, and structures and arrangements of international free trade agreements.

Read the full article about food refugees at Othering & Belonging Institute.