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UNCHR Calls for Measures to Cope with Climate-Induced Displacement

6 June 2011: In his address to the Nansen Conference on Climate Change and Displacement in the 21st Century, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) António Guterres urged countries to adopt new measures to cope with climate-induced displacement within and across borders.

Guterres stressed that “the international community has hitherto lacked the political will to establish effective mechanisms to reduce the pace of climate change." He added that natural disasters and climate change cannot be addressed in isolation from other global trends such as population growth, urbanization, water, food, and energy insecurity, which have the potential to exacerbate competition and conflict over limited natural resources and drive displacement. Guterres further underscored the impact of slow natural disasters such as drought and desertification. He underlined that climate displacement will most happen within national borders, referring to the international agreement on the protection of internally displaced people (IDPs).

To address the growing problem, Guterres suggested the development of a global guiding framework for situations of cross-border displacement resulting from climate change and natural disasters.

The Nansen Conference on Climate Change and Displacement in the 21st Century is taking place in Oslo, Norway, from 6-7 June 2011, and is organized by the Ministries of Environment and Foreign Affairs of Norway to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of Fridtjof Nansen, the first High Commissioner for Refugees under the League of Nations. This two-day meeting was also the first global event to specifically explore the displacement dimension of climate change. [UNHCR Press Release] [IISD RS Coverage]