Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Geneva, Switzerland
Address: Chemin des Fins 2, Case Postale 102, 1211 Geneva 19 - Telephone: 022 799 9100 - Fax: 022 799 9178

Australian Intervention
UNHCR ExCom Side Event: Launch of the Nansen Initiative
2 October 2012

Thank you Mr Chairman.

Australia welcomes the launch of the Nansen Initiative here at ExCom 2012.

We very much appreciate the effort of the governments of Norway and Switzerland for finding this important and global issue “a home” for now, and for their generous financial support to take it forward. Australia believes that a states-led approach that takes the time to focus on framing the phenomenon, unpacking the key elements and establishing an Agenda is the right way forward at this stage.

The complex relationship between climate change and displacement is front of mind for Australia, and we have been active in the supporting our neighbours in the Pacific through mitigation and adaptation initiatives. For this reason we are pleased to bring this experience and concern to the table as part of the Nansen Initiative Steering Group. We look forward to working with other Steering Groups States in helping guide and shape a process that aims first and foremost to increase our understanding of the phenomenon of disaster-induced displacement and how best to manage it.

We applaud the appointment of Professor Walter Kalin as the Special Envoy for the Nansen Initiative and we look forward to supporting his efforts in the regional consultations processes proposed. The Pacific Island leaders have already done some substantial work in this regard. Their Niue Declaration on Climate Change indicates that the first priority of their people is to continue to live in their own countries, where possible, or in the Pacific region. The Agenda must also be informed by the views of the people most affected.

The partnership proposed with international organisations, including UNHCR, and with academia will bring a much-needed evidence base to any proposed solutions.

We look to the Nansen Initiative to support a process of building understanding and fostering consensus-building between states on how we can best respond to the needs of persons displaced across borders in the context of natural disasters.