“Environmental Migration” as Advocacy: Is It Going to Work?


  • Benoît Mayer National University of Singapore




environmental migration, norm entrepreneurship, international relations, governance, constructivism, discourse


Can normative arguments for a governance of environmental migration succeed? The present analysis applies constructivist theories on norm entrepreneurship to the debate on the governance of environmental migration. Throughout the analysis, it appears that “environmental migration” is not constructed by one single, coherent norm entrepreneur. Rather, one may distinguish four normative enterprises that compete to use similar notions in the pursuit of divergent goals. They frame the issue of “environmental migration,” alternatively, as one of humanitarian assistance, forced migration, environmental sustainability, or international security. The article analyzes the prospect of each individual normative enterprise and their interactions. It concludes that norm entrepreneurs elaborating on a language of international security will likely have the greatest impact on the governance of environmental migration. Other normative enterprises are already permeated by the dominant language of fears.


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How to Cite

Mayer, B. (2014). “Environmental Migration” as Advocacy: Is It Going to Work?. Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees, 29(2), 27–41. https://doi.org/10.25071/1920-7336.38165

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