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Climate change, conflict and displacement: implications for protection agencies

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Written by Katie Peters, Amanda Gray Meral, Sarah Opitz-Stapleton, Hannah Measures

Hero image description: Ferdigab, Somaliland; April 2017. Experiencing the worst drought in 20 years, Mako Ogli, aged 23, and her two-year-old son, spend their days looking for grass and water for her two surviving goats. Image credit:Adrienne Surprenant/Norwegian Refugee Council

Systems thinking has often been adopted by humanitarian and specialist protection agencies – both to map the relationships between drivers and triggers of displacement, and to better understand the capacities of those at risk to manage and adapt to changing conditions that can result in displacement outcomes.

Yet, so far, siloed approaches to dealing with the climate crisis, displacement and conflict remain dominant, and in juxtaposition with the increasing recognition that complex interactions between displacement drivers and triggers span issues related to conflict and climate. Despite increasing recognition of these complex interactions, humanitarian and protection agencies are only just getting to grips with the implications for the way they understand and act on displacement issues.

This paper argues that rather than becoming another compartmentalised specialism within the field of displacement, adding climate change to the mix presents an opportunity for a deeper understanding of the complex interactions between displacement drivers and triggers.