Climate Change and Disasters
People try to adapt to this situation, but for many this will mean a conscious move to another place to survive. Such moves, or the effects of climate change on natural resources, may spark conflict with other communities, as an increasing number of people compete for a decreasing amount of resources.
In addition to protecting populations displaced by disasters and the changing environment, we work to increase the resilience of people who are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
In photos: Climate change, disasters and displacement
14 December 2009
Since 2009, an estimated one person every second has been displaced by a disaster, with an average of 22.5 million people displaced by climate- or weather-related events since 2008 (IDMC 2015). Disasters and slow onsets, such as droughts in Somalia in 2011 and 2012, floods in Pakistan between 2010 and 2012, and the earthquake in Nepal in 2015, can leave huge numbers of people traumatized without shelter, clean water and basic supplies.
UNHCR leads the Global Protection Cluster for protecting and assisting people who are forcibly displaced and who cannot return safely home. Although the majority of people displaced by disasters and climate change will remain within their own borders where states have clearly defined responsibilities, the international community can, on request, provide support and humanitarian assistance.
When called upon to intervene, we can deploy emergency teams and provide concrete support in terms of registration, documentation, family reunification and the provision of shelter, basic hygiene and nutrition.
Many of those who are displaced across borders as a result of climate change may not meet the refugee definition. Nevertheless, they are in need of protection and assistance. Therefore, UNHCR is contributing to the Nansen Initiative on cross-border displacement to prevent displacement and protect displaced persons. We also contributed to develop planned relocation guidance to move people out of disasters and climate change effects while respecting their human rights and the Advisory Group on Human Mobility and Climate Change.
Planned relocation and UNFCCC
- Warsaw International Mechanism Executive Committee (WIM ExCom) Work Plan Action Area 6 on Migration, Displacement and Human Mobility25 May 2016
- Executive Committee of the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage Bonn, Germany, 2–5 February 2016 - Inputs from the Advisory Group on Climate Change and Human Mobility Feb 2016
- Human Mobility in the context of Climate Change UNFCCC- PARIS COP-21. Recommendations from the Advisory Group on Climate Change and Human Mobility (November 2015) Nov 2015
Climate Change: Protection Challenge
- High Commissioner' Dialogue on Protection Challenges: Understanding and addressing root causes of displacement - Opening Remarks by António Guterres United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Geneva, 16 December 2015 16 Dec 2015
- Volker Türk Discussion Forum on Climate Change, Berlin, 201417 Jun 2014
- Second preparatory meeting of the 22nd OSCE. Session II: Cross-dimensional Impacts of Natural and Man-Made Disasters, Population movements in the context of natural disasters27 May 2014
The Nansen Initiative
- "Perspective" Fact Sheet, September 201423 Oct 2014
- The Nansen Initiative leaflet23 Oct 2014
- Nansen Conference on Climate Change and Displacement in the 21st century (Oslo, 6-7 June 2011): Conference Report27 Oct 2011
Climate Change and Displacement - external links
- Refword - Documents and Reports
- IMDC - Global Estimates 2014: People displaced by disasters
- UNFCCC - Climate induced displacement, migration and managed relocation rising up the adaptation agenda of the UNFCCC
- UN News Center - Feature: Should international refugee law accommodate climate change?
- International Bar Association - 'Climate refugees'? Addressing the international legal gaps - Benjamin Glahn
- Vulnerable nations urged to craft climate migration policy