Photo: Rune Eraker
The Nansen Conference:
Climate Change and Displacement
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Kaja Haldorsen (07.06.2011)
Climate changes displace millions of people every year. The first large-scale conference on climate change and displacement will take place in Oslo, Norway, June 5-7.

Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) Elisabeth Rasmusson attending the Nansen Conference in Oslo June 6. Photo: Florent Baarsch

With global temperatures rising and the frequency of natural disasters increasing noticeably, climate change affects lives and livelihoods of people around the world. These slow-onset and sudden-onset changes are likely to cause large-scale displacement of people in the future. The Nansen Conference will focus on how to meet these challenges.

 

“Climate change induced displacement is an increasing challenge, and the need to act to protect those that are being forcefully displaced is urgent. The Nansen Conference is the most important conference on this problem to date” says Secretary General Elisabeth Rasmusson.  

The Nansen Conference on Climate Change and Displacement in the 21st century take place June 5.-7, as one of the main official events of the Nansen-Amundsen Anniversary 2011. The conference is hosted by the Norwegian Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in cooperation with NRC and CICERO, the Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research. 

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About 200 high level participants from international organisations, regional institutions, governments, international NGO’s and civil society organisations from affected areas, as well as research institutes will gather in Oslo in June to work on how to meet these challenges. The Nansen Conference will be an important meeting point between communities focusing on climate change and those concerned with humanitarian trends and challenges. 

“The conference offers an opportunity for close dialogue between climate change scientists and humanitarian actors, which is important in order to better understand the role of environmental change as a driving force for displacement” says Lisetta Trebbi, climate change adviser at NRC.

“However while the understanding of the impacts of climate change and displacement should be further explored, this should not be a disincentive to start acting now” 

Flood-affected people hold their belongings as they wait to be evacuated by a rescue team at Chondipur village of adhepura district in India's eastern state of Bihar.
Photo: Reuters/ Rupak De Chowdhuri. www.trust.org/alertnet

The main objective of the conference will be to arrive at a set of recommendations for actions aimed at policy makers, stakeholders and humanitarian actors. A chair’s summary presenting the main outcomes and key messages from the conference will be drawn up as input for policy development and action in appropriate national and international forums.

The main focus of the conference will be on the vulnerability, resilience and capacity for adaptation of poor communities in disaster prone areas due to climate change and variability, protection of displaced people, and to stimulate action that can help manage or prevent displacement.

“It is vital that those women, men and children who are being displaced by the impact of climate change are being appropriately protected right now.  And we will all have to be better prepared to respond to large-scale natural disasters, sometimes happening simultaneously in different parts of the world.  The way that the international response system is set up today we can not do so adequately. We need capacity development at all levels. We also need financing mechanisms that can respond faster and at a larger scale and that are better at financing preparedness actions” says Elisabeth Rasmusson, the Secretary General of NRC, with high hopes for the upcoming conference.

“Our hope is that this conference will result in clear recommendations for how to protect those being displaced across international borders due to sudden-onset disasters”.


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