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IOM and UNCCD launch a partnership to jointly address the negative cycle of land degradation-forced migration

Geneva, 26 November 2014 – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at the 105th session of the IOM Council, the organization’s highest governing body, taking place during 25-27 November 2014 in Geneva.

The MoU signature officially launches a structured collaboration on the land and migration nexus n. 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’s D​irector General, Amb. William Lacy Swing welcomed the enhanced collaboration by underling 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.”
Monique Barbut, UNCCD Executive Secretary, highlighted the importance of land and access to land in the decisions to migrate. According to Ms Barbut, 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, it can feed extremism.

Through the signed agreement IOM and UNCCD will work together to build evidence on the inter-linkages between human mobility and land degradation. The two partners aim to to support policy options and programmes than can create opportunities to improve lives, advance the development efforts, strengthen disaster risk management, and facilitate adaptation actions. Both organizations will benefit from the 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 understanding of human mobility and its impacts on ecosystems in view of contributing to a larger number of political and developmental fora conventionally 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 the 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 release pressure on resources.
About UNCCD and IOM’s activities on Migration, Environment and Climate Change
The UNCCD is one of the three Rio Conventions (along with UNFCCC for climate change and CBD for biodiversity). Established in 1994, UNCCD is the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment and development to sustainable land management. The Convention addresses specifically the arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas.
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Since the early 1990s, IOM has been working on issues related to environmental migration. A broad spectrum of activities has been developed over the years, ranging from humanitarian response to displacement caused by natural disasters to the promotion of adaptation to gradual environmental degradation through migration and development activities. Since 2000, more than 750 projects have been funded and implemented in more than 40 countries across four continents in the context of IOM’s response to environmental migration.
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