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UNU-EHS Lecture Focuses on Nansen Initiative, Disaster-induced Migration

27 March 2013: The UN University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) hosted a lecture by Walter Kälin, Envoy of the Chairmanship of the Nansen Initiative, on human displacement across borders as a result of natural disasters. Kälin introduced the Nansen Initiative, which aims to build consensus among governments on how to address cross border displacement following slow-onset and sudden disasters.

In introductory remarks, Koko Warner, UNU-EHS, highlighted three EHS initiatives on environmentally-induced migration: Environmental Change and Forced Migration Scenarios (EACH-FOR) project; Human Mobility in the Horn of Africa, in collaboration with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR); and Where the Rain Falls, in collaboration with CARE.

Kälin described institutional and legal challenges that affect people displaced across borders following natural disasters. He explained that in contrast to political refugees, these migrants do not receive legal protection and agencies lack mandates to respond to them. Noting a need to develop durable solutions for such migrants, Kälin said the UNFCCC Outcome Agreement on Long-term Cooperative Action recognizes climate change-induced migration as an adaptation challenge, and invites States to enhance cooperation and understanding on climate change-induced displacement, migration and planned relocation.

Kälin outlined the aims and activities of the Nansen Initiative, which was launched by the Governments of Norway and Switzerland in October 2012. The Initiative will conduct consultations in Central America, the Horn of Africa, the Pacific and South and Southeast Asia, regions affected by actual or expected cross-border displacement. Consultations will address integrating disaster-induced migration into adaptation plans and safeguarding cultural identity following displacement, migration or planned relocation. The Initiative will then convene a global meeting in 2015 to define an agenda for action at international, regional and national levels. [UNU Press Release[EACH-FOR Project Website[Human Mobility in the Horn of Africa Website] [Where the Rain Falls Website]