13 Oct 2005

UN seeks recognition for 'environmental refugees'

6:41 pm on 13 October 2005

The United Nations argues the people displaced by gradual negative changes in the environment should be given a special classification as "environmental refugees".

The UN's Institute for Environment and Human Security in Bonn in Germany says environmental refugees are not yet recognized in world conventions.

The institute's director, Janos Bogardi, says there are fears that the number of people fleeing untenable environmental conditions may grow exponentially as the world experiences climate change.

It's thought such a classification could help Tuvalu and Kiribati, whose people may have to leave because rising sea-levels could swamp their homelands.