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As climate change stimulates a rise in sea level, coastal communities and islands are experiencing destructive erosion of land and flooding of habitation. As a result, residents of low-lying communities and small islands are, and will continue to be, displaced due to the gradual, steady rise of sea level and its associated problems, such as increased destruction from flooding and other natural disasters. Millions of people will lose their homes and livelihoods, forcing them to seek alternative shelter within their own country, or cross borders in the hope of finding a new home and work. Climate change displacement is predicted to affect approximately 200 million people by 2050. The enormity of climate change displacement demands financial resources that vulnerable populations lack. Currently, people displaced by climate change are not recognized by international law as a group that receives protection and assistance. In contrast, refugees who flee their countries of nationality due to persecution on account of, for example, race or religion, gain internationally recognized status under the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. In an effort to fill the void, scholars have endeavored to redefine “refugee” and “internally displaced persons” (IDPs) in light of the climate change catalyst, and propose international funding mechanisms to rectify the negative effects of the mass human migration. First, I will outline the current state of sea level rise and the projected displacement in developing low-lying coastal communities and islands. Second, I will analyze new “refugee” and “IDP” definitions and possible funding mechanisms. Third, I will argue that the Green Climate Fund, born out of the Copenhagen Accord, is an appropriate funding mechanism to assist people displaced by climate change; therefore, a portion of the Green Climate Fund should be allocated specifically toward mitigating forced displacement due to rising sea level.



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