CGIAR and UNHCR sign MOU to empower displaced communities

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Consider this: 30% of refugees and a staggering 70% of those internally displaced by conflict are forced to seek shelter in countries already grappling with fragility or conflict making them the most vulnerable and least prepared to adapt to climate change.   

Hazardous climate shocks, such as floods, storms and drought, are bringing on millions of new displacements in these contexts every year, most of whom remained within their country of origin or residence. 

These numbers represent a harsh reality for millions, where the intersection of displacement, statelessness, and environmental vulnerability creates a perfect storm of hardship and instability for them. At the same time, safe and sustainable solutions for displaced people are becoming harder to achieve as climate change adds to degraded and dangerous conditions in areas of origin and refuge.  

Furthermore, displaced people and their hosts possess knowledge and capacities critical to effective and inclusive climate action, but all too often they are left out of the global conversation and marginalized from decisions that will determine their future. Their inclusion and meaningful participation in policy processes and lifesaving decisions is both their right and necessary for impactful solutions. 

On April 8, 2024 CGIAR, led by the Fragility, Conflict, and Migration Initiative (FCM) and Climate Resilience Initiative (ClimBeR), and UNHCR , the UN Refugee Agency, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and also brought together donor countries, and stakeholders to deliberate on strategies to advance climate action and strengthen protection, climate resilience, and peace for forcibly displaced and stateless people.

Leveraging the new partnership, CGIAR and UNHCR, aim to set a common agenda on bridging the interconnected issues of humanitarian assistance, development, peace, and climate change in displacement and refugee contexts. Discussions at the event highlighted the urgent necessity for collaborative action in response to escalating climate hazards and their implications for global stability.

Firstly, we need a blueprint and repository of projects and programmes guided by good practice that prioritizes proactive measures over reactive responses and contributes to increased resilience of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDP’s).

Secondly, the climate crisis is a human crisis. Linking a people-centred approaches, meticulously curated through UNHCR’s endeavours, to CGIAR’s novel science is key to understand and illustrate needs and vulnerabilities. Co-developed innovations that bridge the gap in understanding the intersection of climate change, conflict, and displacement will be pivotal to inform evidence-based policies and interventions in displacement and refugee settings.

Thirdly, unlocking new and additional climate financing in fragile and conflict-affected settings (FCASs) necessitates addressing the root causes of vulnerability and instability that can de-risk investment in FCASs. Alarmingly, extremely fragile states received an average of only $2.1 per person per year in adaptation financing between 2010 and 2017, compared to $161.7 per person for non-fragile states. Donors and financial institutions should prioritize investments that leverage strategic partnerships such as the one between CGIAR and UNHCR fostering protection, sustainable development, and peacebuilding alongside climate adaptation while addressing root causes of human insecurities.

Lastly, joint programming, planning and preparedness exercises across the humanitarian, development, peace, and climate change nexus can enhance the efficiency, predictability and impact of these interventions. Emergency and humanitarian efforts should integrate climate-sensitive approaches that address the specific needs and vulnerabilities of displaced populations and climate action should become an instrument for conflict prevention and averting, minimizing and addressing displacement.  

This includes investing in climate smart agriculture, livelihood diversification, and capacity building to enhance adaptive capacities of displaced and stateless populations and reduce dependency on aid. CGIAR possesses invaluable scientific expertise and a wealth of innovations in food, land, and water systems. However, these resources remain largely untapped by the humanitarian sector. Putting CGIAR best practices at the service of humanitarian actors such as UNHCR would generate enormous co-benefits for human security overall while increasing capacities to face the accelerating climate crisis.  

The newly signed MoU between CGIAR and UNHC embodies a shared vision of harnessing the power of research, innovation, and humanitarian action to effect positive change on a global scale. By leveraging each other’s strengths, resources, and expertise, CGIAR and UNHCR are poised to unlock new possibilities and drive sustainable development for more than 110 million displaced people in the world.

Written by Ibukun Taiwo

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