Geneva, Switzerland, 4 February 2021 – The Government of Fiji chaired the first Steering Group meeting since assuming Chairmanship of the Platform on Disaster Displacement (PDD) on 1 January 2021.
Deputy Permanent Representative of Fiji’s Permanent Mission to the UN in Geneva, Mr. Anare Leweniqila, chaired a first Steering Group meeting, taken place virtually in Geneva, as his country emerged from the wake of yet another tropical cyclone. The Pacific Islands’ vulnerability to disasters, alongside the effective practices already undertaken to prevent and address disaster displacement, are a stark reminder that international leaders need to wake up and take action.
“We just aren’t changing as quickly as the climate… failure is already costing us lives, livelihoods and years of lost development”, warned Fiji’s Prime Minister H.E. Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama at the 5th Anniversary Commemoration of the Endorsement of the Nansen Initiative Protection Agenda, the Adoption of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, and the Paris Agreement under the UNFCCC, held earlier the same day. Highlighting effective practices such as Fiji’s Displacement Guidelines, its Planned Relocation Guidelines and accompanying Climate Relocation Trust Fund, he called for urgent and creative action to bring hope back to the lives of the most vulnerable.
According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, nearly 1,900 disasters triggered 24.9 million new displacements across 140 countries and territories in 2019. This is the highest figure recorded since 2012 and three times the number of displacements caused by conflict and violence.
The state-led Platform on Disaster Displacement works towards better protection for people displaced in the context of disasters and the effects of climate change while building partnerships between policymakers, practitioners and researchers and constituting a multi-stakeholder forum for dialogue and implementation at the regional level. The Steering Group directs and steers the work of the Platform and related efforts at the global level on the basis of an approved Strategy and Workplan. It provides political support and commitment to raise awareness on disaster displacement and to disseminate and implement the Nansen Initiative Protection Agenda.
The Steering Group contains 17 States and the European Union, represented through their Permanent Missions in Geneva. Its composition reflects a wide and balanced geographic representation. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) are standing invitees to the Steering Group.
During the meeting, Fiji outlined the main priorities and focus areas of the Fijian Chairmanship 2021-2022. Building on achievements made under the Chairmanships of Germany, Bangladesh, and France, Fiji will continue to support the four strategic priorities of the PDD with a strong focus on supporting and enabling actors at the regional level:
- to support the integrated implementation of global policy frameworks on human mobility, climate change action and disaster risk reduction;
- to promote policy and normative development to address gaps;
- to facilitate exchange of knowledge and strengthen capacity at the national and regional levels to implement effective practices and instruments; and,
- to strengthen evidence and data on disaster displacement and its impacts.
Steering Group members present at the meeting warmly welcomed the Fijian Chairmanship and expressed great interest and support toward Fiji’s main priorities and focus areas of PDD Chairmanship 2021-2022 including the continuation of Prof. Kaelin as Envoy of the Chair of the PDD. Steering Group members also noted the important role of global and regional dialogues as well as expert fora as tools for advocacy and dialogue, particularly on the road to Glasgow and the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) and at Regional Platforms for Disaster Risk Reduction scheduled to take place this year.