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
01 January 2015
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 supporting the Platform on Disaster Displacement, which is a follow up to Nansen Initiative on cross-border displacement. This Platform will coordinate the implementation of the recommendations from the Nansen Initiative Protection Agenda.
UNHCR has also developed planned relocation guidance to move people out of disasters and climate change effects while respecting their human rights. Furthermore, UNHCR has provided technical support to the UNFCCC process since 2008, including through coordinating the Advisory Group on Human Mobility and Climate Change. UNHCR remains committed to continue providing technical support to Parties in implementing the Paris Agreement.
Planned relocation and UNFCCC
- COP 22 Technical Inputs: Climate & Disaster Displacement Nov 2016
- Frequently Asked Questions on Climate Change and Disaster Displacement Nov 2016
- Highlights of UNHCR Organized Side Events at COP22 Nov 2016
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, 2014 17 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 disasters 27 May 2014
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