Climate Change, Disasters, and Human Mobility

2-3 February 2015 - Katmandu, Nepal


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Press Release

Lima Climate Change Conference:
Norway and Switzerland Call for Commitments to
Adaptation Measures

12 December 2014
COP 20, Lima, Peru

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Perspective Paper

Linking Human Mobility and Climate Change




Climate change and disasters — where would you go?

Op-ed by Ambassador Ivo Sieber of Switzerland in the Philippines

When typhoon Glenda made landfall on July 15, many people affected by the storm faced one question: Where should I go? Fortunately the disaster preparedness measures put in place by the Philippine authorities offered them options to find safety.

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Every year, millions of people are forcibly displaced by floods, wind-storms, earthquakes, droughts and other natural hazards. Many find refuge within their own country but some have to move abroad. In the context of climate change, such movements are likely to increase. National and international responses to this challenge are insufficient and protection for affected people remains inadequate.

Launched in October 2012 by the Governments of Switzerland and Norway, the Nansen Initiative is a state-led, bottom-up consultative process intended to build consensus on the development of a protection agenda addressing the needs of people displaced across international borders by natural hazards, including the effects of climate change. 

To begin the process, five (sub-) regional consultations are planned to take place in the regions most affected by natural hazards and climate change over the course of 2013-2014. These consultations will bring together representatives from states, international organizations, NGOs, civil society, think tanks and others key actors working on issues related to displacement and natural hazards, including climate change. 

The outcomes of the (sub-) regional consultations will be compiled in preparation for a global consultative meeting planned for 2015, when state representatives and experts from around the world will discuss the envisaged protection agenda for cross-border displacement in the context of natural hazards and climate change. The Initiative does not aim to create new legal standards but its outcomes may. Where appropriate, it will facilitate the elaboration of such standards at domestic, regional and global levels at a later stage.

Drawing upon the outcomes of the (sub-) regional consultations, a protection agenda may include:

  • A common understanding of the issue, its dimensions and the challenges faced by relevant stakeholders;
  • Good practices and tools for the protection of persons displaced across borders in the context of natural hazards;
  • Key principles on the three areas of inter-state/international cooperation;  standards of protection of displaced people; and operational responses;
  • Recommendations on the respective roles and responsibilities of relevant actors and stakeholders; and
  • An action plan for follow-up.

The Nansen Initiative's primary stakeholders are states, academic institutions, civil society, and affected people at local as well as global levels. 

The Nansen Initiative also benefits from the financial support of the European Commission, Germany, and the MacArthur Foundation.