Addressing forced displacement in climate change adaptation
No longer a blind spot
This paper shows that climate-related forced displacement is insufficiently addressed
in two fundamental commitments made towards the United Nations Framework Convention
on Climate Change (UNFCCC) between 2015 and 2023: National Adaptation Plans (NAPs)
and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). It describes the important role NAPs
and NDCs play in prioritising the tackling of certain aspects of climate change adaptation,
identifies gaps on forced displacement, and proposes ways of adding it among their
policy objectives, and of mobilising finance to reach them.
How do countries set their priorities for climate adaptation?
National priorities on climate action are set by two separate commitments by countries, agreed upon during past Conferences of the Parties (COP):
National Adaptation Plans (NAPs), established in 2010 at COP16 in Cancún, as part of the Cancún Adaptation Framework and
Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), set five years later in 2015 at COP21 in Paris.
Both represent commitments regarding adaptation, but at different levels. While NAPs aim to integrate adaption explicitly into planning processes at national level, NDCs are broader in scope, setting national objectives towards addressing the challenges of climate change, including adaptation measures.
How is forced displacement addressed in climate change adaptation commitments?
Analysing 42 NAPs and 166 NDCs, as of 2023, the OECD found that only 36% of all countries mention forced displacement in either NAPs or NDCs. The picture is brighter for NAPS: 48% of states include concrete provisions on climate-related displacement in them, against 14% in NDCs.
Where they address forced displacement, NAPs and NDCs suffer from:
Lacking concrete commitments, objectives, and tangible actions related to addressing climate related forced displacement;
Failing to address concerns of pre-existing refugees and internally displaced persons, who are amongst the most vulnerable and often live in areas at-risk of being climate change;
Rarely making the connection between displacement and loss and damage (L&D).