Exploring the Environmental Refugee Crisis in Nigeria Through a Climate Justice Framework

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


The impacts of extreme climatic events on livelihoods of people in coastal communities of less developed countries is driving climate-induced displacement and migration and is bound to continue if not addressed urgently and sustainably. These communities are very vulnerable to climate change due to poor adaptation capacities and other existing structural challenges. The frequency and intensity of these events create enormous daily challenges and as such. have contributed in constraining capabilities for the people in these communities to lead flourishing and dignified lives. There is some evidence to suggest the consequences of climate-induced displacement and migration brings to the fore, the intricate tangle of climate change with issues of human rights and social justice issues. However, there is limited research on the daily challenges and coping strategies of people displaced and forced to migrate due to climate change.

To rectify this gap, this research conducted a climate justice analysis of the plight of this group of people in relation to the human rights and social justice dimensions of climate induced displacement and migration. This research adopted a case study approach and operationalized a capabilities approach to climate justice framework to investigate the daily challenges and coping strategies of people displaced and forced to migrate in four coastal communities of the Niger Delta in Nigeria. The findings highlighted that issues of environmental change, loss of livelihoods, food insecurity, poverty, gender inequality and access to basic amenities as the major factors constraining capabilities in the form of daily challenges. A deeper analysis of these issues revealed the further challenges of an inability to sustain daily existence, reinforced gender inequality and draws attention to the unsustainability of the common coping strategies that were adopted.

The realities from these challenges were determined as constituting issues of ‘double climate injustice’ on the basis that further injustices are created at the local levels; following on from the inequities in distribution of the benefits and burdens of climate change. On this premise, this research proposed an urgent and radical shift in response to climate-induced displacement and migration and as a result, highlighted the potential of climate justice to inform future policies to restore diminished rights and redress the injustices associated with climate change.
Date of Award2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Glasgow Caledonian University
SupervisorTahseen Jafry (Supervisor) & Lani Russell (Supervisor)

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