Lesson Plan: Climate Refugees and Environmental Migration

As a high school or undergraduate Social Sciences, Humanities, or Environmental Sciences teacher, you can use this set of computer-based tools to help you in teaching about topics such as Social and Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Human Migration, Climate Refugees/Environmental Migrants, and Climate Justice.

This lesson plan enables students to learn about human migration caused by climate change, and the term “climate refugees” and its growing significance. The activity provides insights into geographic locations whose existence is threatened by climate change, and communities that are fleeing their homes, resulting in large-scale migration.
Thus, the use of this lesson plan allows you to integrate the teaching of a climate science topic with a core topic in Social Sciences.

Sea Level Change (1870-2000)


Use this lesson plan to help your students find answers to:

  1. What are the reasons for human migration?
  2. What are the climate change-related problems that threaten the existence of some regions in the world?
  3. What are the challenges faced by climate refugees/environmental migrants?
  4. What are the measures/policies that governments can adopt to tackle the challenges of climate-related human migration?

About Lesson Plan

Grade Level High School, Undergraduate
Discipline Social Sciences, Humanities, Environmental Sciences
Topic(s) in Discipline •  Climate Change and Human Migration
•  Climate Refugees
•  Climate Justice
Climate Topic •  Policies, Politics, and Environmental Governance
•  Climate Refugees; Climate Justice
Location Many.
Includes Alaska, Pacific and Indian Ocean islands, Bangladesh, Sudan, Syria, USA, India
Languages English
Access Online
Approximate Time Required 120 min


Reading (15 – 20 min) A reading that discusses climate change-related human migration and the term “climate refugees” by describing how climate change is accelerating migration from various parts of Bangladesh to the capital, Dhaka.


Classroom/ Laboratory activity (~90 min) A storymap and an associated activity worksheet to learn about countries and cities that are becoming uninhabitable because of the effects of climate change, and communities that are being forced to leave their homes and migrate to new locations.


Associated activity:

Here is a step-by-step guide to using this lesson plan in the classroom/laboratory. We have suggested these steps as a possible plan of action. You may customize the lesson plan according to your preferences and requirements.
1. Introduce the topic through a reading
  • • Introduce the topic of refugees and human migration.
  • • Introduce the terms, “environmental migration” and “climate refugees”.
  • • Discuss the reasons for climate change-related human displacement and the impending climate-refugee crisis by reading an article from The Guardian,
  • • “Dhaka: the city where climate refugees are already a reality
  • • This article will help you provide an actual example of the climate-refugee crisis by describing how climate change in Bangladesh is causing large-scale migration of residents from different parts of the country to the capital, Dhaka. Students can also learn about how cities such as Dhaka may struggle to support the large number of incoming environmental migrants.
  • •  Link: https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/dec/01/dhaka-city-climate-refugees-reality
2. Conduct a classroom/laboratory activity
  • •  Now, explore the topic in more detail through mapmaking and visualization techniques by using the storymap tool, “Climate Migrants”, and an associated activity worksheet, “Climate Migrants”.
  • • In this activity, students will learn about several regions and communities affected by climate change. Students will understand and discuss the various climate change-related problems such as inundation, erosion, drought and desertification, conflict, and the strain on resources caused by the resulting human migration.
  • • A wide range of geographic locations including Alaska, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, and Syria are provided as examples.
  • • Access esri’s storymap visualization tool “Climate Migrants” at http://storymaps.esri.com/stories/2017/climate-migrants/index.html.
  • • Download the activity sheet “Climate Migrants”, from The Human Imprint.
  • •  Facilitate a detailed exploration and discussion of the responses to the questions in the worksheet, with the help of the storymap tool.

Mapped Sustainable Development Goal(s), apart from 4 and 13