As disaster displacement rises, Member States reflect on ways forward

11 May 2021

Photo credit: OCHA/Saviano Abreu

Member States sounded the alarm on disaster displacement in a virtual joint consultation on coordination for solutions and financing on May 11. The event, titled “Displacement in Times of Disasters and Climate Change: Consultation on Coordination for Solutions and Financing,” was co-organized by the Co-Chairs of the “Group of Friends”, respectively, of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel of Internal Displacement and the Platform on Disaster Displacement (PDD) based in Geneva and New York.

Issues related to disaster displacement have been highlighted strongly by stakeholders to the Panel since the start of its work. More than 5,000 IDPs and host community members affected by disasters have voiced their concerns to the Panel. Moreover, some 60 submissions received by the Panel from States, UN agencies, NGOs, academia and others called into attention the key role of disasters and climate change in contributing to displacement. PDD in particular underscored in its submission the need to invest more in prevention and preparedness, work early towards solutions, and integrate IDP protection concerns into disaster response.

Opening the meeting, Panel member Mitiku Kassa Gutile highlighted the growing magnitude of today’s global disaster displacement landscape. Recalling the World Bank’s projections, he alerted that over 143 million people could be internally displaced in three world regions by 2050 by the slow-onset impacts of climate change alone.

“No region or country, be it in the Global North or South, is spared from the devastating effects of disaster events and climate change.

As we speak now, people are being displaced by these causes,” stressed Mr. Gutile as he elaborated the Panel’s exploration of this area ranging from prevention and mitigation to solutions imperatives.

Representatives of Afghanistan, Ethiopia, the European Union, Fiji, Mauritius, Morocco the Netherlands and Norway then made interventions, underlining their experiences, approaches, concerns and suggestions to the Panel. Their reflections touched on best practices, lessons learned and ways to strengthen coordination and financing for prevention and solutions to disaster displacement. A whole-of-government approach involving key ministries, other national and local authorities involved in disaster management was highlighted in the meeting, in particular to foster home-grown solutions, in developing and implementing national adaptation plans. Concurrently, the complementary engagement of international humanitarian, disaster risk reduction and climate actors with local and national authorities was urged to give effect to the “triple nexus” and build technical capacities and partnerships for solutions.


Member States representatives, based in Geneva and New York, gathered virtually on May 11 for the meeting on “Displacement in Times of Disasters and Climate Change: Consultation on Coordination for Solutions and Financing” to exchange best practices, lessons learned and reflections on financing and coordination for solutions to internal displacement. 


Against the backdrop of a worsening climate crisis, States alerted that the global demand for resources will inevitably rise to respond to the realities of increasing displacement.

Many views were expressed on the feasibility of creating new financing mechanisms and to maximize the use of existing tools. Financing for prevention, encompassing early warning systems, climate insurance and forecast based financing was highlighted as critical but challenges remain in terms of systematic scaling up.

Summarizing the discussions, Panel Expert Advisor and Envoy of the Chair of PDD, Prof. Walter Kaelin, highlighted the intersection between solutions and prevention.

“Durable solutions are one way to prevent recurrent displacement, but they need to go beyond narrow and limited approaches. One has to look at the underlying causes and risks” he said. He went on to underline that the search for durable solutions demands a shift from the reactive approach to one that is proactive, in which prevention of displacement is part of a comprehensive package.

The outcomes from this joint consultation will inform the Panel's recommendations to the UN Secretary-General in September this year. The Panel will continue to ramp up its engagement with stakeholders, including States impacted by disaster displacement and risks, to fine-tune its thinking.

The consultation on “Displacement in Times of Disasters and Climate Change: Consultation on Coordination for Solutions and Financing” was convened by the Permanent Missions of Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Norway in Geneva and Mali and Norway in New York, Co-chairs of the Group of Friends of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement and the Permanent Missions of the Kingdom of Morocco and the Delegations of the European Union in Geneva and New York, Co-chairs of the Group of Friends of the Platform on Disaster Displacement.