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Forced Migration Review issue 49 – to be published in May 2015 – will include a major feature on 'Climate change, disasters and displacement'. The deadline for submission of articles is Monday 12 January 2015

Cyclone survivors in Myanmar shelter in the ruins of their destroyed home © UNHCR / Taw Naw Htoo
Cyclone survivors in Myanmar shelter in the ruins of their destroyed home

Every year around the world people are displaced by floods, cyclones, droughts and other sudden- and slow-onset events. In light of the projected increase in the frequency and intensity of disasters associated with climate change and environmental degradation, it is anticipated that the number of people displaced in the context of disasters, including across international borders, is likely to rise.

Forced Migration Review published an issue in 2008 looking at ‘Climate change and displacement’ which brought together researchers and practitioners to debate this growing area of concern – and the tension between the need for research and the need to act. In the years since then there has been much debate, analysis and developments in thinking, approaches and needs.

While existing national, regional and international legal regimes respond to some of the protection concerns arising from displacement in the context of disasters, others remain unaddressed. Despite legal standards to protect internally displaced people, significant operational protection gaps remain for those displaced in disasters. Regarding cross-border displacement in disaster contexts, where the 1951 Refugee Convention would not apply, the legal gap relates primarily to admissions, status during stay, and finding durable solutions.

International cooperation and solidarity will be essential to ensure adequate protection of the rights of displaced people, while identifying needs and crafting an appropriate response will demand a cross-sectoral approach that addresses different forms of human mobility (displacement, migration and planned relocation). Those working in many different fields – technical and scientific, political, humanitarian, human rights and developmental, among others – will have something to contribute to solutions and to mitigating the impact of displacement.

This issue of FMR, to be published in May 2015, aims to discuss the linkages between climate change, disasters and displacement, the impact of both internal and cross-border displacement, measures to prevent or reduce the likelihood of displacement, and approaches to ensure the protection of those who are displaced (or who are unable to move).

In 2015, the Nansen Initiative, led by the Governments of Norway and Switzerland, will bring together states to discuss a protection agenda addressing the needs of people displaced in the context of disasters caused by natural hazards, including those linked to climate change. While some articles in the FMR issue will emanate from the Nansen Initiative’s regional consultations and civil society meetings that have been taking place since 2013 in the Pacific, Central America, the Horn of Africa, South-East Asia and South Asia, additional articles would be welcomed, in particular those that address the Arctic, Central Asia, Europe, West Africa, the Caribbean and Central Asia.

The FMR Editors are looking for practice-oriented submissions reflecting a diverse range of perspectives which focus on situations of displacement and address questions such as the following:

  • What have been the most significant developments in relation to a better understanding of the linkages between climate change, disasters and displacement since publication of FMR issue 31 in 2008?
  • What measures can be taken to prevent, or reduce the likelihood of, displacement in the context of climate change and disasters?
  • What gaps remain in national, regional and international legal regimes in terms of providing protection for individuals and communities displaced internally or across borders, or facing displacement, in the context of disasters caused by natural hazards, including those linked to climate change?
  • How can the operational response be improved, with roles and responsibilities better clarified, when providing protection and assistance for those displaced by disasters and the effects of climate change? What examples exist of states admitting displaced people in the context of disasters?
  • Are new methods of data collection, analysis and the use of quantitative modelling proving useful in predicting, planning for and responding to displacement in the context of disasters caused by natural hazards, including those linked to climate change?
  • Are there examples of good practice in supporting resilience, adaptation and coping strategies that can be replicated elsewhere?
  • What evidence is there of improved guidelines and practice in disaster risk reduction and management, relating to displacement, disasters and climate change? 
  • To what extent is human mobility included within national adaptation plans?
  • How can governments, civil society and the international community work together to help boost the adaptive capacities of local host communities and communities affected by displacement?
  • What are potentially affected local communities saying and doing about climate change, disasters and displacement? How can their expertise and insights feed in effectively to planning and responses at the local, national, regional and international level?
  • How can pre-emptive voluntary migration or planned relocation, and/or admission to another country to provide temporary protection, be facilitated?
  • In what circumstances will both affected citizens and non-citizens have access to humanitarian assistance?
  • What is needed in terms of international and regional cooperation and coordination? What good practice currently exists?
  • How should governments and other actors respond in order to guard against protracted displacement and avoid premature return?


Maximum length: 2,500 words
Deadline for submission of articles: 12 January 2015

If you are interested in submitting an article, please email the Editors with a proposed outline.

Please note that space is always at a premium in FMR and that published articles are usually shorter than this maximum length. Your article, if accepted for publication, may well be shortened but you will of course be consulted about any editing changes. Please consult our Guidelines for authors.

Authors are reminded that FMR seeks to include articles with a gendered approach or a gender analysis as part of them. We are also particularly keen to reflect the experiences and knowledge of communities and individuals directly affected by these questions. If you can put us in touch with displaced people and/or local organisation representatives who might be interested in writing, please do email us; we are happy to work with individuals to help them develop an article.

Related content

Climate change and displacement | Forced Migration Review External

Climate Change, Human Migration and Human Rights Research 

Environmentally Displaced People Policy & Impact