We need to find solutions for displaced people
Platform on Disaster Displacement devoted to the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration
Statement by Ambassador François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
United Nations – 4 April 2018
It’s a great pleasure and privilege for my team and for me to be here with you this afternoon on this important occasion and I would like to start by extending a special thanks to the Bangladeshi Chair for organizing this meeting and Professor Walter Kaelin for his great presentation and his essential work to include the issue of climate displacement in the Compact. Many thanks also to each and every one of you for your commitment.
Our presence here shows that we are all convinced, number one, that the challenges of climate displacement and environment-related displacement more broadly need to be addressed, and, number two, that it requires enhanced international cooperation based on responsibility shared between countries of origin, transit and destination.
We indeed know that no one State will be able to address these migration issues alone, just as no one State can take on climate challenges alone. That is precisely why climate change displacement requires close cooperation among States. When it comes to this topic and so many others, multilateralism is the only possible solution. And you know France’s and President Macron’s strong commitment to multilateralism (…).
To oversimplify, environmental migration occurs when the cost of adaptation is higher than the cost of displacement, even if climate change is a factor that is often difficult to consider independently from others. Most climate displacement, moreover, takes place within a same country. Lastly, as Professor Kaelin eloquently said, the reasons behind displacement are wide-ranging: in addition to natural disasters, environmental displacement is a result of gradual environmental degradation such as rising water levels due to global warming, the loss of biodiversity, and desertification affecting employment, health and food security. There is always a combination of reasons and there can therefore never be just one solution to overcome these challenges.
But one thing is absolutely certain: if we do not act, environmental degradation and the lack of an adapted response will only increase the flows of environmentally displaced persons which are already constantly and quickly growing. The World Bank’s recent report confirms this fact. The worsening of climate change effects could displace nearly 150 million people by 2050. We are speaking about huge numbers of people here. Cooperation in this area is not only a necessity, but also a duty of humanity, to the women, men and children who are most often already living in vulnerable situations in fragile areas. Because as usual, the most vulnerable are suffering the most.
In the New York Declaration, that you also talked about Professor, we committed to protecting the human rights of all migrants, regardless of their status. This is what must guide us in how we address the phenomenon of climate displacement. Here, let me say just a few of the elements that are part of our compass:
1. First, we need to tackle the root causes of the problem. That is why we urgently need to implement the Paris Agreement and our national contributions. This is the first and most crucial response to tackling the challenge of climate displacement. However, as I said climate change is not always the only cause. It is also important to fight environmental degradation produced by the poor management of natural resources, such as deforestation, pollution, overfishing, ill-adapted farming practices and the lack of resilience factors.
2. We then need to work on anticipating risks and adapting to them. International solidarity in this area is indispensable. A good example is the CREWS initiative that we launched during COP21 to improve early warning systems for the risks of extreme climate events, so as to help people living in the least developed countries and small island developing States to better adapt to these risks. Indeed the task is huge. It is also crucial for official development assistance to build people’s ability to adapt. In France, for instance, our development agency, the Agence française de développement, dedicates 50% of its annual financing to climate-oriented projects. It has also set the target of dedicating 5 billion Euros to climate finance by 2020, of which 1.5 billion will focus on adaptation to climate change. So we are seriously engaged including in financial terms to meet the challenge.
3. Thirdly and above all, we need to find solutions for displaced people. You are well aware that as I said most displacement takes place within a same country. Building the resilience of societies exposed to both climate risks and the related displacement is therefore a priority. When no local solution is possible, international solidarity recommends that States come up with ad hoc measures to deal with displaced persons based on humanitarian considerations.
Lastly, we need to continue to gain more knowledge about this problem: to find appropriate solutions, we need to improve the information and data on environmental displacement, which are still insufficient as we speak.
To conclude, we need to keep in mind that we are not starting from scratch. A lot has been done already. We can draw on the Paris Agreement, of course, but also on the Agenda for the Protection of Cross-Border Displaced Persons in the Context of Disasters and Climate Change, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and more to work towards fully incorporating climate displacement into the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. This is one of our key priorites. You can count on me, on my outstanding team and on my country’s commitment to continue working very hard in this direction.
Thank you for your attention.