Panel: The global Compacts on Refugees & Migration and SDGs: Framework on Accountability or bureaucratic Hyperbole?
For the first time, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development contains recommendations related to displacement. The SDGs form the basis for “Durable Solutions”, which in turn play a central role in the Global Compacts. This panel focused on how the Global Compacts and the SDGs are linked to or even complement each other, and where they diverge; where there may be discrepancies between the aspirations of the documents and their implementation; and whether these frameworks provide accountability to the international commitment to achieve a better and sustainable future, leaving no one behind.
The panellists agreed: The Global Compacts for Refugees/on Migration are what you make them. They can either serve as a stepstone or even an engine of change or they are simply another framework without accountability mechanisms in place or impact on the ground. This depends on the political will of individual nations. It should not be forgotten that the Global Compacts are a process and not a result – politicians can and will mainly “sell” what their voters are willing to vote for. The Global Compacts are a useful tool for governments that are willing to act and complement the border formulated SDGs. The urgent and dramatic situation in the Mediterranean Sea should remind all states that the bases defined in the Global Compacts can only be a beginning for a more accountable and binding agreement that is needed rather soon.
Key statements and recommendations of the Panel were:
- Global Compacts need to be seen as an important call for consequence, they have a lot of potential if they are not ignored but rather used
- The lack of accountability is a real problem
- The urgent situation in the Mediterranean amongst others call for a fast and binding solution for migration
- The top-down approach in developing the Global Compacts excluded actors from the global south. Only by including all relevant actors, the frameworks will be able to live up to their full potentials.
- Implications and adequate implementation of the Global Compacts have not been understood yet and relevant stakeholders need to be sensitized.
Breakout-Session SDG 6: “The Right to WASH for Displaced and Marginalized People”
Worldwide, one in three people do not have access to safe drinking water, two out of five people do not have a basic hand-washing facility with soap and water, and more than 673 million people still practice open defecation.
The critical importance of sanitation, hygiene and adequate access to clean water has been further increased by the COVID-19 pandemic. Handwashing and adequate hygiene practices are key for preventing and containing diseases. Refugees and IDPs are especially vulnerable to COVID-19, as they live in conditions that increase their risk of contagion. In densely populated refugee camps, social distancing is challenging, and basic sanitation is often already lacking, proper hygiene is a challenge.
Vulnerable groups within the displaced community and outside like people with disabilities, indigenous peoples, women and girls have historically been among the most marginalized of population groups. Against this background, it is now more important than ever that we take a look at the current status of SDG 6 achievement and discuss future perspectives. 5 years after adoption of the 2030 agenda billions of people still lack safe water sanitation, funding is inadequate, inclusive WaSH programming a challenge for NGOs and governments.
This Breakout-Session asked the question: Why is the right to WASH still denied to many displaced and marginalized community members, such as people with disabilities (PWD), indigenous and amongst all, women? An underlying cause is that the specific needs of PWD, women and indigenous people are not taken into consideration due to a lack of information and knowledge. Marginalized groups within societies are often overlooked and not included in the decision-making processes.
However, without the inclusion of marginalized people on all levels, we won't be able to reach the SDG 6!
Main recommendations from the panellists:
- More data and evidence about minority groups and women need to be collected to fully understand their needs.
- A rights-based approach needs to be applied for inclusive decision-making processes in the WASH sector
- Water suppliers and other actors involved need to be sensitised and monitored in order to ensure the inclusion of marginalized communities
- People with disabilities are the biggest minority group in the world, however their needs are not yet seen as a cross-cutting but rather specialized topic. A holistic approach is needed to ensure participation of PWD on all levels and in all phases of the project management cycle (assessment, implementation, monitoring)
Indigenous people face the challenge that they are often living in rural areas, with high contaminated rivers and are often not aware of their right to clean water and health and therefore are not claiming it. More inclusion of these communities is needed and instead of imposing solutions on them, they should be involved in creating, implementing and monitoring them. Local NGOs can play a crucial role in bridging communication gaps and, at the same time, contribute to local empowerment.
 Beech H, Hubbard B. Unprepared for the worst: world’s most vulnerable brace for virus. The New York Times. 2020 Mar 26. Available from: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/26/world/asia/coronavirus-refugees-camps-bangladesh.html
Subbaraman N. ‘Distancing is impossible’: refugee camps race to avert coronavirus catastrophe. Nature. 2020 05;581(7806):18. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/d41586-020-01219-6
SDG 13 Breakout-Session: Displaced by climate change: how to secure the human rights of affected communities
Protecting the human rights of people who are displaced or at risk of displacement becomes more difficult in the context of the adverse effects of climate change. While there has been increasing international attention to this aspect in the last few years, international law and policies are currently unable to fully meet the protection needs of displaced people in the context of climate change and particularly when they cross international borders. Protection therefore requires concerted action from states, international organisations, civil society, NGOs, private sector and local communities. This session explored how the human rights of displacement affected people can be protected in the context of the adverse effects of climate change.
It was discussed how climate change exacerbates vulnerabilities and inequalities, especially in situations where countries, communities and populations are least prepared and least able to protect themselves and adapt. It was emphasised that the different discussions on human rights, displacement, SDGs, Climate Change, the Sendai Framework and others need to be connected.
Main recommendations of the experts are:
- Recognition of the real problem for people displaced by climate change, which is not a lack of policies or statements but the behaviour of key players, is needed.
- Donors should support affected populations more directly through decentralized structures and projects.
- Countries should adopt laws, policies, strategies that are based on human rights
- Impacts will get worse, even with rigorous mitigation. Mitigation measures need to be taken immediately. Otherwise, the other efforts will be in vain.
- Focus on those most vulnerable and build their capacities.
- Increase research to help policy makers to make decisions based on different climate futures.