New Zealand is considering creating a new visa for people fleeing environmental disasters brought on by climate change.

“This notion of humanitarian visas, legal pathways, and temporary protection are policy options that we are encouraging states to use."


In 2012, a migrant worker from the tiny, low-lying Pacific island nation of Kiribati tried to become a refugee in New Zealand, arguing that he and his family were afraid to go home because of the impacts of rising sea levels. The courts didn’t accept that the dangers were imminent–or that they were due to reasons of persecution that are outlined in the international refugee convention–and rejected his claim. But people fleeing the effects of climate change on Pacific islands may soon have a new option: New Zealand’s new climate change minister hopes to create an experimental humanitarian visa for “climate refugees.”

“There’s a conversation just beginning in New Zealand, with the change of government, that makes lots of things that didn’t feel possible before now at least open for discussion,” says Vivien Maidaborn, executive director of UNICEF New Zealand, who has advocated for support for people in neighboring countries who may soon be forced to move.

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Source: Fast Company