IOM and UNCCD Launch Partnership to Jointly Address Negative Cycle of Land Degradation, Forced Migration


Switzerland - IOM and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at the 105th session of the IOM Council, the organization’s governing body, which is taking place 25-27 November 2014 in Geneva.

The MoU launches a structured collaboration on the land and migration nexus. The partnership aims to increase understanding of challenges and opportunities related to these interlinked phenomena and to create the political momentum for including them in the sustainability, human rights, security and climate adaptation agendas.

IOM Director General Ambassador William Lacy Swing welcomed the enhanced collaboration by underlining the need to secure sustainable productive land use as the first step to grounding opportunities for people in their home communities. “This is the essence of truly sustainable development,” he said.

UNCCD Executive Secretary Monique Barbut highlighted the importance of land and access to land in the decision to migrate. When degraded land can no longer support a growing population, people are forced to leave. “This can lead to ethnic clashes, conflicts over scarce resources and, in some cases, can feed extremism,” she noted.

Through the agreement, IOM and UNCCD will work together to build evidence on the linkages between human mobility and land degradation. The two partners aim to support policy options and programmes that can create opportunities to improve lives, advance development efforts, strengthen disaster risk management, and facilitate adaptation.

Both organizations will benefit from strengthened cooperation in terms of reciprocal sharing of expertise in non-traditional fields of intervention. IOM will enhance its capacity to consider and deal with environmental threats. UNCCD will improve its understanding of human mobility and its impacts on ecosystems to contribute to more political and developmental fora normally more focused on people’s rights and vulnerabilities.

IOM and UNCCD are already implementing a joint initiative in Burkina Faso, Niger and Senegal, funded by Italian Development Cooperation. The project deals with the positive impacts of migration by channeling remittances and diaspora investments towards sustainable land management and adaptation to climate change. In West Africa, migration is often part of a household strategy for economic improvement, to diversify income and to reduce pressure on resources.

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Dina Ionesco



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