Environment, Environmental Refugees and Green Social Work

Melahat Demirbilek
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Social work evaluates an individual within her/his environment. As the individual is affected by the social environment she/he is also affected by the physical environment. Thus, social work also deals with physical problems caused by the physical environment of an individual. Climate and ecological factors are important determinants on human behavior and adaptation, for human and climate affect each other. In order to express the social work that treats the effects of the various environmental factors on human behavior with a holistic approach, the term “environmentalist/green social work” is used. Among these environmental factors; climate change due to global warming, increasing sea levels, floods, drought, desertification and deforestation can be seen. People are deprived from viable secure environment due to environmental degradation and climate change, and as a consequence are forced to displace towards viable countries. Those who migrate by necessary towards other countries are named as environmental refugees or climate refugees. According to the 1951 Geneva Convention, where those people who are outside their home-state due to race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership of a particular social group are named as refugee; environmental refugees are outside the scope of this definition. The social work with a preventative and holistic approach to the environment and environmental refugee problem, has to act in local, national and international levels to decrease the negative effects of environmental factors on people, consciousness-raising, mobilizing people and advocating at macro level towards protecting the rights of environmental refugees. Meantime it has to conduct psycho-social support services at micro-mezzo scale to those people who are affected by environmental factors and to environmental refugees.

Key Words: Environment, Green Social Work, Environmental Refugees.

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