The Nansen Initiative: Global Consultation Report

The Nansen Initiative
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Forced displacement related to disasters, including the adverse effects of climate change, is a reality and among the biggest humanitarian challenges facing States and the international community in the 21st century. Between 2008 and 2014 a total of 184.4 million people were displaced by sudden-onset disasters, an average of 26.4 million people newly displaced each year. Of these, an annual average of 22.5 million people was displaced by weather- and climate-related sudden-onset hazards. Others have to move because of the effects of sea level rise, desertification or environmental degradation. Looking to the future, there is high agreement among scientists that climate change, in combination with other factors, is projected to increase displacement.

The Nansen Initiative is a state-led, bottom-up consultative process intended to identify effective practices and build consensus on key principles and elements to address the protection and assistance needs of persons displaced across borders in the context of disasters, including the adverse effects of climate change. It was launched by the Governments of Norway and Switzerland in October 2012, with the support of the Steering
Group comprised of Australia, Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Germany, Kenya, Mexico, and the Philippines, and accompanied by the Group of Friends co-chaired by Morocco and the European Union. The Initiative builds on paragraph 14(f) of the 2010 UNFCCC Cancun Agreement on climate change adaptation which recognizes displacement, migration and planned relocation as one of the challenges to adapt to climate change.

The Agenda for the Protection of Cross-Border Displaced Persons in the Context of Disasters and Climate Change (Protection Agenda) was endorsed by 109 governmental delegations during a global intergovernmental consultation on 12-13 October 2015 in Geneva, Switzerland that gathered a total of 361 participants representing governments, international organizations, academic institutions and civil society. The Protection Agenda consolidates the outcomes of a series of regional intergovernmental consultations and civil society meetings convened by the Nansen Initiative in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific over the course of 2013-2015, as well as research commissioned by the Nansen Initiative. The purpose of the Protection Agenda is to enhance understanding, provide a conceptual framework, and identify effective practices for strengthening the protection of cross-border disaster-displaced persons. Rather than calling for a new binding international convention on cross-border disaster-displacement, the Agenda supports an approach that focuses on the integration of effective practices by States and (sub-) regional organizations into their own normative frameworks in accordance with their specific situations and challenges.

In particular, the Protection Agenda addresses the protection and assistance needs of cross-border disaster-displaced persons by exploring potential measures that States may voluntarily adopt and harmonize to admit such persons relying on humanitarian considerations and international solidarity with disaster affected countries and communities. At the same time, the Agenda identifies effective practices to manage disaster displacement risk in the country of origin to prevent displacement by i) reducing vulnerability and building resilience to disaster displacement risk, ii) facilitating migration out of hazardous areas before disasters strike, iii) conducting planned relocation and iv) responding to the needs of internally displaced persons. The Protection Agenda ends with a list of priority areas for future action at national, (sub-) regional and international levels.

The Nansen Initiative