Environmental Migration: Social Work at the Nexus of Climate Change and Global Migration
Environmental migrants are caught at the nexus of the climate crisis and the global migrant crisis. The problems of the migrant crisis are recognized globally as they are linked to the complex issues being addressed by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The complexity of the issues makes it difficult to grasp the breadth and depth of this crisis. As a result, it can be understood as one of the “wicked problems” requiring us to respond through a lens that recognizes the interconnections of humans and the broader ecosystems within the physical surroundings. When approaching the migrant crisis from this perspective, professionals are challenged to create transdisciplinary, community-based response systems which are holistic, multi-pronged, and inclusive of migrants’ voices and strengths. Storytelling provides a venue for highlighting migrants' voices, engaging in change, and creating the space for individual and collective healing. Social workers are increasingly being called upon to become trained in this practice and to engage in complex change systems alongside other disciplines and community members. As they provide prevention, mitigation, resettlement, and relief efforts, social workers become a part of a global community of leaders engaged in transformative change. By working to address these challenges, they are securing a better world not only for environmental migrants, but also for our planet as a whole.
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