Summit for Refugees and Migrants
Round Table 2
“Addressing drivers of migration, particularly large movements, and highlighting the positive contributions of migrants”
Conference Room 3, United Nations, New York, 19 September 2016
Statement by Robert Glasser, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction
Excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen.
I am grateful for the opportunity to share some thoughts with you on a critical root cause of migration and forced displacement – disasters.
Unplanned urbanisation, environmental degradation, and fundamentally climate change, are increasingly intensifying natural hazards and triggering a significant proportion of the total number of forced displacement of people globally.
In some cases, natural hazards are the primary cause. In others, they form part of a complex interaction of social, economic, and environmental factors that compel people to migrate.
Over the past six years, almost 200 million people have been displaced and forced from their homes by sudden-onset disasters. While displacement is assumed to be short-term, if not managed well, it can turn into a long-term protracted concern.
Slow-onset disasters, such as drought and rising sea levels, seriously undermine people’s economic and food security. We’ve seen in Syria how an unprecedented in modern times – drought – triggered tens of thousands of people to move from rural areas to cities. Not the cause of the Syrian crisis, but a contributing factor.
In the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction countries agreed to take measures that reduce the risk of slow- and sudden-onset disasters and the consequent forced displacement of people. The Sendai Framework’s global targets aim to substantially increase the number to countries with disaster risk reduction strategies and the availability of multi-hazard early warning systems in order to substantially reduce the number of people affected, economic losses, and damage to critical infrastructure.
The Sendai Framework also emphasises the need to tackle the root causes of disaster risk, such as poverty, unplanned and rapid urbanisation, poor land management, and climate change.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
As my distinguished colleague Mary Robinson said, efforts to reduce disaster risk will be overwhelmed by climate change if we move beyond the thresholds of well-below 2 degrees identified in the Paris Agreement. Ninety per cent of major disasters are climate and weather related – climate change mitigation is the key risk reducer.
This is one reason the Secretary-General, in his statement issued to the General Assembly for this meeting, urged Member States to implement as a matter of urgency, measures to mitigate disasters as outlined in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and fully implement the Paris Agreement.
Thank you for your attention and I look forward to your countries’ active participation in the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction from 24 to 26 May 2017, hosted by Mexican President, His Excellency Mr. Peña-Nieto, and the Government of Mexico in Cancun, Mexico.