Rethinking Durable Solutions to Displacement in the Context of Climate Change

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By Megan Bradley, Fellow, Brookings–LSE Project on Internal Displacement

Jane McAdam, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Brookings–LSE Project on Internal Displacement

May 2012

Displacement caused by conflict and human rights violations is typically resolved through the pursuit of three “durable solutions”: local integration, resettlement or voluntary return. It has often been assumed that durable solutions mark the end of mobility for refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). However, in recent years it has become clear that this assumption needs to be reconsidered. Even after the situations that forced them from their homes have been resolved, many former refugees and IDPs remain “on the move,” making choices that subvert the standard durable solutions framework. For instance, they may return periodically to their communities of origin while maintaining permanent residence in a resettlement country, or they may become migrant workers in other countries. The traditional trio of durable solutions may also need to be reconsidered in light of the challenges posed by climate change. In the following piece, we provide some brief reflections on the ways in which displacement linked to climate change may test some of the principles underpinning the durable solutions framework, and necessitate new thinking about solutions to displacement.

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