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The United Nations system mandates with respect to averting, minimizing and addressing displacement related to climate change: Considerations for the future

In December 2015, in Paris, France, the twenty-first Conference of the Parties (COP21) mandated the Executive Committee (Excom) of the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage (WIM) to establish a Task Force on Displacement (TFD) to develop recommendations for integrated approaches to avert, minimize and address displacement related to the adverse impacts of climate change.

This study, commissioned by the Platform on Disaster Displacement (PDD) and the International Labour Organization (ILO), both members of the TFD, assesses institutional frameworks and mandates within the United Nations (UN) System. To better understand the context of UN entities’ current mandates and functions, the study first traces how the issue of displacement related to climate change emerged in the historical context of the UNFCCC as well as other relevant UN processes and frameworks. This conceptual framework, in turn, guides discussion on what set of activities and approaches may constitute effective responses to the challenges of displacement related to climate change. Based on this, the study provides an initial, rough assessment of the extent to which the UN System’s current mandates and functions allow it to provide the support affected States need to carry out those activities. It concludes with recommendations for how the UN System could improve support for States’ efforts to avert, minimize and address displacement related to climate change, highlighting opportunities to coordinate the System’s contributions within existing mechanisms and processes.

The findings and recommendations of this study were included in the deliberations of the TFD and reflected in the recommendations on integrated approaches to averting, minimizing and addressing displacement related to the adverse impacts of climate change, submitted by the Executive Committee of the WIM to the twenty-fourth Conference of the Parties (COP24) in Katowice, Poland. The recommendations were welcomed by COP24 in December 2018, which also decided to extend the mandate of the Task Force on Displacement.

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