The relationship between environmental degradation and human migration has become the focus of interdisciplinary research within the last two decades, although the issue was addressed as early as the mid-1970s when scientists from various academic disciplines – including ecology, geography, security and environmental studies – began discussions on migrants forced to leave their homes because of environmental change (e.g. Brown, 1976 in Saunders, 2000; El-Hinnawi, 1985; Myers, 1993; Suhrke, 1993; Hugo, 1996). It should be highlighted that migration flows due to drought and attendant decreases in crop yield or depletion of natural resources (such as land and water) are a historical phenomenon (e.g. the first impulse of the ‘Migration Period’ in Europe in the fourth to seventh century). Indeed, some observers emphasize that various civilizations have declined and fallen in the past in relation to climatic factors. The scale of the current threat, however, is set to outstrip all historical projections and contexts because of the growing human population (Tanton, 1994). Debate about predicting the effects of this threat is becoming more frequent in both scientific and humanitarian forums (Stojanov et al., 2008). The primary aims of this chapter are to introduce the following topics:
1 The concept of environmental migration, drawing on the relationship between livelihood security and the state of the environment.