This note discusses the concept of a refugee, extending it to environmental refugees and seeking to include the nonhuman life into this concept.


As related to humans:

United Nations (UN) Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (‘the Refugee Convention’). Amendment 1967

…owing to well founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it. (Article 1A(2))

NB: The media debate frequently confuses the legal definition of different terms, especially refugee, asylum seeker, and illegal immigrant.

Other synonyms:

  • environmentally displaced persons (because the displacement is often internal to existing countries and the notion of a refugee in international law refers to humans who have to escape their countries)
  • climate refugee

Nonhuman Travel, Nomadism and Migration

The relationship between travel and the concept of refugees. What is the difference from 'normal' movement to find more favourable conditions and the movement that refugees undertake?


  • animal mobilities
  • animal geographies

Hodgetts, Timothy, and Jamie Lorimer. ‘Animals’ Mobilities’. Progress in Human Geography, 2018, 1–29.

Animals as Refugees

Derham, Tristan, and Freya Mathews. ‘Elephants as Refugees’. People and Nature 2, no. 1 (2020): 103–10.

Noll, Samantha. ‘Nonhuman Climate Refugees: The Role That Urban Communities Should Play in Ensuring Ecological Resilience’. Environmental Ethics 40, no. 2 (2018): 119–34.


Khazaal, Natalie, and Núria Almiron, eds. Like an Animal: Critical Animal Studies Approaches to Borders, Displacement, and Othering. Leiden: Brill, 2021.

The Notion of Invasive Species

Inglis, Meera Iona. ‘Wildlife Ethics and Practice: Why We Need to Change the Way We Talk About “Invasive Species”’. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 33, no. 2 (2020): 299–313.

Dooren, Thom van. ‘Invasive Species in Penguin Worlds: An Ethical Taxonomy of Killing for Conservation’. Conservation and Society 9, no. 4 (2011): 286–98.

The Notion of Animal (Plant, Other Taxa?) Sanctuary

Donaldson, Sue, and Will Kymlicka. ‘Farmed Animal Sanctuaries: The Heart of the Movement?’ Politics and Animals 1, no. Fall (2015): 25.