Environmentally-Induced Population Displacements and Environmental Impacts Resulting from Mass Migrations, International Symposium, Geneva, 21-24 April 1996.
This report provides a summary of proceedings and papers presented at the 1996 UN Conference on the Interactions between Mass Migrations and Environmental Impacts. The conference was organized and funded by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Organization for Migration, and the Refugee Policy Group. The conference aimed to determine how to break the mutually reinforcing cycle of environmental damage and mass migration. The discussions focused on the development of policy guidelines that would minimize detrimental impacts and designation of responsible entities for initiating and coordinating action. There was a consensus on a Statement of Principles for preventing and mitigating environmentally induced population displacement and for addressing the negative environmental consequences of mass migration. The Statement of Principles focused on descriptions of the problems and a framework for action for environmentally induced population displacements, environmental impacts of mass migrations, and breaking the cycle. The Summary of Proceedings included the warning in the closure statement that environmental degradation was an international and not a local problem that was linked to political strife, conflict over natural resources, and international political arrangements. The 13 background papers are summarized. Background papers focused on issues such as satellite monitoring and aerial photography, assorted case studies, failures in settlement planning and shelter management, remote sensing and geographic information systems technology, and approaches that mitigate the environmental impact of refugees. Environmental changes are charted for natural causes and man-made causes by time frame of the impact, scale and intensity of impact, predictability, reversibility, and main organizations involved. These two charts help match policy options to the problem.