IPI HomeEventsPanel DiscussionsStudy: 20 Million Displaced by Climate-related Disasters in 2008

 

print print  |  share share back back

Panel Discussions - Monday, November 02, 2009

Study: 20 Million Displaced by Climate-related Disasters in 2008

An IPI policy forum launched a new joint study by a UN office and a prominent Norwegian group showing that 36 million people were displaced in 2008 by sudden onset natural disasters — 20 million of them by climate-related disasters such as storms and floods.

This large number of climate-related displacements has significant implications for the planning for and delivery of humanitarian assistance to displaced populations.

By contrast, the study showed, in the same year, there were 4.6 million people newly displaced by conflict.

“It shows something about the balance here,” said Elisabeth Rasmusson, Secretary-General of the Norwegian Refugee Council, whose Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) conducted the study in collaboration with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)   

Entitled “Monitoring Disaster Displacement in the Context of Climate Change” and launched in an IPI meeting on November 2, 2009,  the study examined disaster-related forced displacement in 2008, specifically climate-related disasters, and proposed a methodology to monitor disaster-related displacement on an ongoing basis.

Sir John Holmes, the Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Aid Coordinator, pointed out in his remarks that the study “does lend scientific weight to what we, in the humanitarian community have known anecdotally, from a long time from our work on the front lines, that natural disasters do have huge consequences in terms of displacement and, in particular, that climate change has profound displacement implications and those implications are increasingly making themselves felt.”

A third panelist, Dr. Simon Mason of the International Research Institute for Climate and Society of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, discussed the prospects and difficulties of predicting natural disasters while Jeem Lippwe, the Deputy Permanent Representative of the Federated States of Micronesia highlighted the existential threat that climate change poses to many countries; in particular, the fact that some small island states may likely become uninhabitable due to rising sea levels.

“The risk of statelessness is one of the greatest security threats caused by the impact of climate change,” he said.

Dr. Edward C. Luck, IPI’s Senior Vice President and Director of Studies, made welcoming remarks and moderated the meeting.

Read edited transcript of this session (pdf)

Read the study "Monitoring Disaster Displacement in the Context of Climate Change" (pdf)

The Global Observatory

MH17 Tragedy Could Accelerate Deterioration of Geopolitical Relations
Besides being a horrific human tragedy, the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 risks becoming the accelerator of today's deteriorating geopolitical relations between Russia and the West.

Key Global Events to Watch in July
A list of key upcoming meetings and events with implications for global affairs.

2014 Top 10 Issues to Watch in Peace & Security: The Global Arena
A list of ten key issues to watch that are likely to impact international peace and security in 2014, compiled by IPI's Francesco Mancini.

The Global Observatory, produced by IPI, provides timely analysis on peace and security issues, interviews with leading policymakers, interactive maps, and more.

Recent Events

July 17, 2014
EU and UN Seek Ways to Improve Cooperation in Peacekeeping
The European Union is among the strongest supporters of UN peacekeeping missions around the globe, but the growing challenges faced by UN-led operations have raised the need for better EU-UN cooperation, both on the ground and at the planning level.

July 01, 2014
SRSG Johnson: South Sudan Crisis Changed UNMISS “Mindset”
Hilde Johnson, the outgoing Head of the UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS), gave an overflow IPI audience a dramatic account of the challenging situation that has faced the United Nations in the country since the eruption of mass violence at the end of last year.

June 25, 2014
Mousavian: Iran and US Have Serious Chance for Rapprochement
From Iraq to Syria, from energy to counterterrorism, Iran and the United States share many common interests across the Middle East and ought to put aside their decades of hostility, said author and former Iranian diplomat Seyed Hossein Mousavian.

View More