Conclusions and ways forward

Urban systems, already under pressure, and governance mechanisms do not include the priorities and perspectives of those most at risk of displacement.

This weakens the resilience of the displaced and the urban structures in which they rely upon. Reliance on informal structures and hazard-prone settlements means durable solutions are not being achieved.

Displaced persons are being pushed to urban edges, they literally live on frontlines of hazards with the effects resulting in yet more disaster loss – often exceeding others. They not only stand to lose their assets, but are increasingly likely to be displaced once again to a new location. The cycle of vulnerability continues. 

The following conclusions have been drawn from reflection on the key findings and will further direct GNDR members to continue strengthening the resilience of displaced populations in urban areas. 

Coherent approaches to durable solutions must be sought for the urban displaced

Improved coherence involves integrating processes and actions to address displacement risk, before it occurs, whilst people are on the move and responding after the event that caused the displacement. The approach would also take into consideration coherence on disaster, conflict, climate change and sustainable development to increase efficiency, effectiveness and the achievement of both common and respective goals. 

Further, UNDRR guidelines highlight the interconnected areas that cross-cut domestic policies which should be considered when addressing displacement within specific country contexts. These include, but are not limited to, housing, social welfare, education, health, land rights, employment and identification/status. 

More coherent approaches would perhaps mean more localised, risk-informed and therefore durable solutions, which would address several of the findings made. Consideration needs to occur to ensure coherence and clarity in local governments and CSOs response to displacement in their context, that is based on the reality of the displaced person’s perceived threat and not the perception of local government or CSOs themselves.

Recognise the critical role of CSOs in convening local stakeholders as part of strengthen collaboration between all stakeholders

Stakeholders in forced displacement include displaced persons, host communities, civil society groups, local and national governments (in different departments/ministries), civil society organisations, UN, INGOs and private sector and other interested parties. 

Collaboration between stakeholders is possible and involving displaced persons is not impossible nor a risk. Whilst differences of opinion between stakeholder groups have been mentioned in the findings, factors facilitating inclusion are a key part of exploring the enabling policy environment. The wish for social cohesion (12%) is an indication that being connected to those around them is a crucial step towards policy inclusion. There is a feeling of opportunity and space for the critical role of CSOs in facilitating connection between those most at risk and the duty bearers responsible for policy and practice. 

However, it will be essential for all stakeholders to know their roles and how they can effectively deliver responsibilities. Moving beyond displaced persons alone, this should also include host community members so that everyone can be part of developing durable solutions. Stakeholders convening participation of local actors (whether displaced or host community members) must take time to ensure local perspectives are understood.

Protracted displacement needs to be replaced with ‘durable solutions’

Durable solutions are found when “people no longer have any specific assistance and protection needs linked to their displacement and can enjoy their human rights without discrimination on account of their displacement”. The findings that displaced communities in urban areas continued to be affected by disasters and poverty highlight that durable solutions are not being prioritised. 

As the findings clearly demonstrate, durable solutions need to consider long-term economic risks as well as hazard mitigation. This needs to consider multiple risk factors from the perspective of those most at risk. The call for durable solutions needs to be contextualised and extended to those at risk of displacement, not just those already displaced. Given the length of protracted displacements, it is essential to focus on mitigation, not just adaptation, so that the number of persons at risk of displacement will begin to decrease and, consequently, the numbers displaced as well. 

Support effective funding that addresses preparedness and mitigation, as well as response and adaptation

Whilst the findings are perhaps not new, their validity lies in the fact that they come from the perspective of displaced persons most at risk. It is concerning that, despite actors discussing similar issues for years, they are still in front and centre of the perspectives of those who have shared them – whether having been displaced for less than a year or more than twenty. 

It is clear that a shift of action which is effectively funded, addressing preparedness and mitigation, as well as response and adaptation, is required. Further, a recommendation of being more evidenced (data-driven) in addressing the risk, so as to be more specific in the contextual definition of ‘durable solutions’, or at least use the term alongside actionable targets,  is suggested.

Instead of looking at why someone has been displaced as a specific issue or challenge, civil society needs to be monitoring risk data that indicates mass displacement might occur or ongoing hazards that need to be addressed to stop further displacement and ongoing vulnerability. Civil society also needs to involve displaced populations in this process, with a process of good governance so that resilience of the displaced population is prioritised, and indeed those most at risk are able to lead their own development. This all-of-society approach should be strengthened and integrated into local and national policies.

Meaningfully include displaced persons in the policy environment affecting them

In considering the problem of a lack of inclusion there is, amongst some displaced populations, the willingness or want to connect more with the authorities responsible for them. This can be the basis for any advocacy to address the issue of an improved policy environment – the perspective of willingness to change, evidenced by the stakeholders involved in this process, can be highlighted as a way to strengthen the necessary relationships to make change. 

Further solutions, provided by the displaced, include access to information (14%), awareness raising related to mitigating risks faced (12%) and building social cohesion (12%). 

However, given the concern raised around vulnerable groups further disconnected from the policy environment than others – namely women – more needs to be done to understand their perspective and strengthen their agency.  Recommendations of designing key messages on displacement focused on women and girls have been made to make issues of gender and social inclusion more visible. 

Influence international policy with the findings of this paper

Governments around the world have committed to leaving no one behind as they seek to achieve global targets of development agendas. Committing to a manifesto on migration, they have highlighted their “critical role to play in the construction of inclusive and pluralistic societies, not only through catalysing dialogue but also through guaranteeing access to basic services and fostering policies that will make newcomers welcome”. 

There are multiple policies relating to displacement. The global compact for migration is the first intergovernmental negotiated agreement, prepared by the United Nations to cover all dimensions of international migration in a holistic and comprehensive manner. It seeks safe, orderly and regular migration with a mandate covering many aims including:

  • Mitigating the adverse drivers and structural factors that hinder people from building and maintaining sustainable livelihoods in their countries of origin
  • Reducing the risks and vulnerabilities migrants face at different stages of migration by respecting, protecting and fulfilling human rights and providing them with care and assistance
  • Striving to create conducive conditions that enable all migrants to enrich our societies through their human, economic and social capacities, and thus facilitate their contributions to sustainable development at the local, national, regional and global levels

Other policies such as the Cancun Adaptation Framework, Nansen Initiative, Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage, and the Sendai Framework can be used to positively impact displacement challenges.

However, it is clear from findings that international and national policies and commitments are not being successfully implemented at a local level. GNDR members will continue to use findings from the research of forced displacement to bring positive change. 

Ways forward

  • Form a multi-stakeholder group to set out a network position on forced displacement
  • Advocate, with members and communities most at risk, on issues and challenges connected to forced displacement at local, national and international levels
  • Continue to explore ways that mapping techniques can highlight challenges and support risk-informed and durable solutions
  • Consider ways the data collection process that include perspectives from those most at risk can be scaled-up, and include communities at risk of displacement as well as those already displaced
  • Continue to learn ways displaced women and other marginalised groups can be further included in the policy environment


Photo (top and middle): Sabiha Khatoon collects clean water from a pump installed in her village, in Pakistan’s Sindh Province, by the NGO Concern. Credit Vicki Francis/DFID – Department for International Development.

Photo (above): An IDP camp for Ezidis from the Sinjar (Shingal) region, after being displaced by the Islamic State, Iraq. Credit: Levi Meir Clancy on Unsplash.

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United States Agency for International Development

Our Making Displacement Safer project is made possible by the support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) – Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance. Content related to this project on our website was made possible by the support of the USAID. All content is the sole responsibility of GNDR and does not necessarily reflect the views of the USAID.

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