Africa & Middle East Regional Dialogue of the Climate Vulnerable Forum
Statement by Prof. Walter Kaelin, Envoy of the Chair of the Platform on Disaster Displacement
29 July 2021
Chairperson, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Chair of the Platform on Disaster Displacement, the Government of Fiji, let me thank you for the invitation to take the floor in my capacity as the Envoy of the Chair.
PDD is a State-led initiative focusing on the implementation of the Nansen Initiative Agenda for the Protection of Cross-Border Displaced Persons in the Context of Disasters and Climate Change. We work towards better protection for people displaced in the context of disasters and climate change as well as more effective prevention of such displacement. We are proud to be a partner of the Climate Vulnerable Forum. We are pleased to engage with CVF countries, particularly today at the Africa and Middle East Regional Dialogue. We are happy to see Bangladesh, one of the founding members of the PDD and with Madagascar, Morocco, and Senegal several members of our Steering group participating in this important event. We hope that our current engagement in the Horn of Africa and West Africa with activities to improve knowledge on climate-change related displacement, sharing of effective practices, and developing effective policy responses will further deepen our partnerships.
We all know that the impacts of climate change, including displacement, are not future scenarios. Displacement in the context of climate change is already happening in all regions of the world, including in Africa and the Middle East. According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, in 2020 alone, over 4.6 million new displacements due to disasters were recorded in Africa and the Middle East, many in the context of extreme weather events exacerbated by climate change. The World Bank predicts that by 2050, more than 86 million people will move within their countries to escape the slow-onset impacts of climate change in Sub-Saharan Africa alone – if we don’t take ambitious climate action. These huge challenges can only be effectively addressed if we use all available policy tools to prevent and address displacement in the context of climate change:
- We need to do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and associated hazards to mitigate the impacts of climate change in order to reduce displacement risks;
- We need to expand our efforts to help people to stay where this is possible and help them to move out of harm’s way where they wish to move. This means scaling up adaptation and disaster risk reduction measures and ensure that displacement risks and human mobility challenges are included in adaptation planning; and
- We need to strengthen our efforts to address the protection and assistance needs of persons, whether displaced within their countries or across borders, and find durable solutions for them when climate change-related displacement cannot be avoided and when it amounts to loss and damage.
Ahead of COP26, it is timely to launch another, joint, call for robust and ambitious climate action. Addressing displacement in the context of climate change will require the incorporation of displacement risk assessments and preparedness into climate change adaptation planning and policies as well as the Santiago Network on Loss and Damage. It also requires ambitious climate finance to catalyze action and support for countries and communities who are most vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change, cutting across mitigation, adaptation, and loss and damage. And finally, it is crucial to systematically and forcefully integrate and mainstream displacement and migration considerations in all aspects of climate action.
We stand ready to support you in our joint efforts. I thank you.
Cover photo: Shutterstock