Synthesis Note
October
2016
Thematic Working Groups
Environmental change and migration
Applicable countries
United States
Abstract:

Georgetown University, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and UN have been engaged in developing Guidance for States and other stakeholders on planned relocation in the context of natural disasters and the slow onset effects of climate change.

Planned relocation has been defined for this purpose as: “a planned process in which persons or groups of persons move or are assisted to move away from their homes or places of temporary residence, are settled in a new location, and provided with the conditions for rebuilding their lives.

Planned Relocation is carried out under the authority of the State, takes place within national borders, and is undertaken to protect people from risks and impacts related to disasters and environmental change, including the effects of climate change. Such Planned Relocation may be carried out at the individual, household, and/or community levels.”

Disasters displaced an average of 26.4 million people per year since 2008 – a number which will likely increase. In this context, moving and settling people in new locations might become an increasingly viable protection option. However, the relocation of at-risk populations carries serious risks for those it is intended to benefit. Analogous experience demonstrates that relocating people is a complex endeavor with the strong potential to violate basic rights and leave people much worse off. States faced with situations where planned relocation may be needed lack guidance on the basic principles and rights that apply to this powerful and challenging option.

The Guidance on Planned Relocation therefore sets out general principles to assist States and other actors faced with the need to undertake these programs. The aspiration is that these general principles will be helpful to States and supporting actors in formulating Planned Relocation laws, policies, plans, and programs. The Guidance will be accompanied by a set of Operational Guidelines, to be developed in 2016-2017 which will include specific measures and examples of Brookings Institution was a partner during the first stage of the project.

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