OECS Countries Plan for Management of Cross-border Movements Due to  Disasters and Climate Change

25 March 2023 – Member States of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) are now one step closer to having a common protocol for cross border evacuation and displacement in the context of disasters, environmental degradation and climate change. Representatives of the governments of the Member States met in a hybrid event hosted in Saint Lucia, between 21-22 March 2023 to consider the best practices already demonstrated in past responses in the OECS, and to work together to draft protocols that are people-centred, comprehensive, context-specific, and prevention oriented, and are fit for purpose based on the principles of the human security approach.

During the 2-day workshop, 43 technical officers came together to propose context-specific ways to deal with cross-border movements of people into or out of their countries due to disasters, environmental degradation and climate change. Officers represented the fields of disaster management, environment, foreign affairs, immigration and national security, representatives of national Red Cross societies, and of regional agencies such as the Caribbean Community Implementation Agency for Crime and Security CARICOM IMPACS, the Caribbean Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and the OECS, the Platform for Disaster Displacement (PDD) and UN entities such as the Human Security Unit, UN Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Recent devastating events, Hurricanes Irma and Maria (2017), and the eruption of the La Soufriere volcano in Saint Vincent & the Grenadines (2021) provided many learning opportunities worth sharing across the region, and made for practical understanding of the implications of disasters, environmental degradation and climate change on affected countries and on countries that host displaced people, the complex effects on the lives of individuals affected, and ways in which these can be managed for improved human security.

All participants acknowledged the need to plan for cross-border displacement in the event of disasters, and how Member States of the OECS countries could collectively manage these events in a manner that would not overburden states, and still protect and empower affected people in such eventualities. Participants left with a commitment to fine-tune a proposed Ministerial Declaration on human mobility in contexts of disasters, environmental degradation, and climate change.

Participants contributed to review of draft protocols to outline all the steps to be considered by countries receiving evacuees displaced due to disaster or migrating due to environmental factors or climate change, and also steps applicable to countries directly impacted and therefore with citizens potentially displaced to other countries.  Participants left the workshop with a commitment to also provide comments to fine-tune a proposed Ministerial Declaration on human mobility in contexts of disasters, environmental degradation, and climate change.  

The workshop “Mainstreaming the Human Security Approach to Environmental Migration and Disaster Displacement” was organized by the IOM Dominica office as part of a Joint Programme under the leadership of the UN Resident Coordinator Office for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean and was held in Saint Lucia in partnership with the OECS and with funding from the UN Trust Fund for Human Security (UNTFHS).

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International Organization of Migration / IOM

Established in 1951, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is the leading intergovernmental organization in the field of migration and is committed to the principle that humane and orderly migration benefits migrants and society. IOM is part of the United Nations system, as a related organization.  IOM supports migrants across the world, developing effective responses to the shifting dynamics of migration and, as such, is a key source of advice on migration policy and practice. The Organization works in emergency situations, developing the resilience of all people on the move, and particularly those in situations of vulnerability, as well as building capacity within governments to manage all forms and impacts of mobility. The Organization is guided by the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, including upholding human rights for all. Respect for the rights, dignity and well-being of migrants remains paramount. 

SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
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