|Environmentally-Induced Population Displacements and Environmental Impacts Resulting from Mass Migrations (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) / Alto Comisionado de Naciones Unidas para los Refugiados (ACNUR), 1996, 128 p.)|
|Extracts of Main Contributions|
James N. Purcell, Jr.
Director General, International Organization for Migration (IOM)
This Symposium has been planned and prepared since mid 1995 as a joint activity of UNHCR, IOM and RPG. It is a prime example of good inter-agency cooperation. Thanks to the efforts of representatives of Governments, development co-operation agencies and relief and environmental organizations as well as individual expert from both developed and developing countries the Symposium has become a reality.
The Symposium is the follow-up to a conference on Migration and the Environment, organized jointly by IOM and RPG with the financial support by the Government of Switzerland, in January 1992 in Nyon, Switzerland. Among other things, that meeting emphasized the need to:
- address the causes of environmental migration,
- understand the needs of those forced from their homes by environmental degradation,
- develop strategies for those whose displacement by environmental degradation cannot be averted in order to help them relocate and adapt to their new homes, and
- develop more effective strategies for assisting refugees and other migrants so as to minimize negative impacts on the environment and reduce long-term dependence on assistance.
Five years later, it can be said that although there has been progress in the implementation of these recommendations, much still remains to be done. The main objective of the present Symposium is to discuss practical measures and concrete action including prevention, mitigation and rehabilitation whenever this is appropriate. These should comprise i.a. the possibilities for risk sensing of environmentally induced population movement, the means to prevent or reduce environmental destruction caused by mass migrations, and measures to mitigate ongoing degradation processes in order to diminish emigration. The Symposium aims at addressing and identifying measures to reduce negative impacts on the environment by mass migrations. Furthermore, the Symposium considers requirements and activities of rehabilitation of degraded environment, where this is feasible and can offer a viable economic base for the resettlement of returning displaced populations and the life of local people in areas affected by mass migrations.
A small group of experts and staff members of the three organizations -UNHCR, IOM and RPG- has prepared a Draft Statement of Principles for consideration by participants in this Symposium. The Statement of Principles contains a number of basic considerations and recommendations for practical action. This document, in a revised form is the main outcome of the Symposium for consideration by Governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, including environmental and development agencies.