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Words Into Action On Disaster Displacement Guidelines Launch At GP19

Words into Action on Disaster Displacement Guidelines launch at GP19

The final version of the Words into Action Guidelines– Disaster displacement: How to reduce risk, address impacts and strengthen resilience (Words into Action on Disaster Displacement) was officially launched during the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (GP19), receiving interest from GP19 delegations from around the world.


The Words into Action Guidelines on Disaster Displacement are part of a UNDRR series of guidelines that aims to ensure worldwide access to expertise. It provides guidance for governments on how to include disaster displacement-related provisions in their national and local disaster risk reduction planning, in accordance with Target (E) of the Sendai Framework. The development of the guidelines has been led by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), with lead author Hannah Entwisle Chapuisat, and supporting author Silvi Llosa. Its development was generously supported by Germany, Switzerland and Norway. Since the first release for public consultation in DATE, the guidelines have been translated from English into Arabic, French and Spanish with support from Switzerland and France.


The Words into Action on Disaster Displacement addresses four priorities:

1) Understanding disaster displacement risk;

2) Strengthening disaster risk governance to manage disaster displacement risk;

3) Investing in disaster risk reduction for resilience to reduce displacement risk;

4) Enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response to disaster displacement and to ‘build back better’ in recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction to achieve durable solutions.


It is organized around the Sendai Framework objectives and priorities, explaining for each in how far disaster displacement can be integrated in national planning and practice. It contains examples and case studies, reference documents, and a glossary.


At this launch event at the premises of the Norwegian Refugee Council in Geneva, the Words into Action Guidelines received strong support by Ms. Kirsi Maddi (Director, United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction [UNDRR]), Mr. Jan Egeland (Secretary General of NRC) and Prof. Walter Kaelin (Envoy of the Chair of the Platform on Disaster Displacement [PDD]); alongside the governments of Germany, Switzerland, and France. All speakers stressed the importance of “translating the Sendai Framework into action”, as phrased by Prof. Walter Kaelin.

On behalf of the Federal Government of Germany, Ms. Baerbel Kofler (Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid), highlighted the importance of integrating displaced people’s needs in regional, national and local disaster risk reduction (DRR)  strategies. Mr. Damien Cottier Counsellor and shared that 83% of current national DRR strategies refer to human mobility but less than half refer to displacement or migration as consequence or driver of disaster risk, based on a recent mapping commissioned by PDD. Finally, Mr. Vincent Szleper (Head of Water, Pollution, and Transversal Affairs, Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs) underlined the need to enhance regional collaboration to ensure better protection of people displaced.

To discuss this further, the panel reconfigured to include Dr. Mmaphaka Tau (Deputy Director-General of the National Disaster Management Centre [NDMC] in South Africa) and H.E. José Antonio Arrospide (Director General of the Andean Committee for Disaster Prevention and Response [CAN-CAPRADE]), who have both expressed their interest in implementing the Words into Action Guidelines on Disaster Displacement in their country or region. Dr. Mmaphaka Tau explained that displaced people often move to other underserviced and overcrowded areas, which increases vulnerability. South African positions itself as a regional champion addressing and preventing disaster displacement, and Dr. Mmaphaka Tau further stated that Cyclone Idai and Kenneth had tested South Africa’s ability to support its neighbours.

H.E. José Antonio Arrospide expressed concerns for populations affected by displacement linked to disasters and effects of climate change. The Andean region is prone to suffer from earthquakes, tsunami and storms. In collaboration with the PDD and NRC, CAPRADE is planning seminars and workshops in the Andean region with authorities to apply these guidelines at national and sub-regional level and is aiming at creating common policies in the region.

You can view photos of the GP19 events on our flickr account:May 2019 - Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction
This launch was organized by PDD, in collaboration with NRC, the Governments of Germany, Switzerland and France, as well as UNDRR.


For information on our side-event on “Women and Youth Speak: Faces of Disaster Displacement” at GP19, you can read our article.

For information on the Working Session on Disaster Displacement and DRR, you can read more on the IISD website.

Useful Documents

Words into Action guidelines – Disaster displacement: How to reduce risk, address impacts and strengthen resilience (EN)


Launch of the Words into Action on Disaster Displacement Concept Note 


2019 PDD Policy Brief

2019 PDD Messages


Mapping the Baseline – To What Extent Are Displacement and Other Forms of Human Mobility Integrated in National and Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Strategies? 


Mapping the Baseline – Summary

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