Seizing the momentum: displacement on the global climate change agenda

Seizing the momentum: displacement on the global climate change agenda

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) raised the prospect of significant displacement and migration as major human impacts of global warming as early as 1990. Research on the issue has grown exponentially since, and its importance is increasingly recognised in international discourse, policy and action emanating from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

With global temperatures breaking new records and an average of at least 21.5 million people already being displaced each year by the impact and threat of climate-related hazards, it is time to ratchet up efforts to mitigate, adapt to and prepare for ever greater displacement risk.

This briefing paper summarises for parties, observers, civil society and private sector actors heading for the climate change conference in Marrakech (November 2016) where the issues of displacement, migration and planned relocation stand in the UNFCCC agreements, decisions and discourse, and highlights opportunities and challenges inherent in turning knowledge and commitments into concrete action for people already displaced and those at greatest risk of becoming so.

Key messages:

  • the need to ratchet up efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change is made ever more urgent by the millions of people being displaced from their homes each year by climate-related disasters
  • the political momentum of the Paris Agreement provides a golden opportunity to mobilise investment in the resilience of countries and communities facing displacement risk
  • implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, the Sendai framework for disaster risk reduction and the UN’s Agenda for Humanity may serve to complement, reinforce and accelerate climate action for people already displaced and those at increasing risk of becoming so
  • commitments to avert, minimise and address displacement must now translate into increased capacity and financial and technical support where it is most needed, including in small island developing states (SIDSs) and the least developed countries (LDCs)
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