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This background paper has been prepared to underpin discussions at the Sanremo consultation on planned relocations, disasters and climate change: Consolidating good practices and preparing for the future, to be held from 12-14 March 2014. This UNHCR-Brookings-Georgetown consultation, supported with a grant from the European Union and co-financing from Norway and Switzerland, will provide an opportunity to examine the complex issue of planned relocations made necessary by sudden-onset disasters, acute environmental degradation, and the longer-term effects of climate change.
The consultation will contribute to the Nansen Initiative on disaster-induced cross-border displacement, a bottom-up consultative process intended to build consensus on the development of a protection agenda to address the needs of people displaced across international borders in the context of natural disasters, including those linked to the effects of climate change.
Although a relatively uncharted topic in the context of climate change, this paper – and the consultation – takes as a starting point the likelihood that States will increasingly use planned relocation as a tool to move populations out of harm’s way and that guidance is needed to support this process. States and those seeking to support them as well as affected communities could benefit from such guidance since past experiences with planned relocations in other contexts have generally been less than ideal.
The particular form this guidance should take will be a primary focus of discussion at the Sanremo consultation. Fortunately, this process is not starting from scratch. Over the past three years there have been
efforts to address the issue of planned relocations made necessary by the effects of natural hazards related to climate change. Previous consultations in 2010 and 2011 at Bellagio1 have identified some of the lessons learned from other relocation efforts. A process is underway to provide guidance in the case of evacuations made necessary by sudden-onset disasters2 and a UNHCR paper published in 2012 suggests a framework of ‘preliminary understandings’ to uphold the rights of those relocated as a consequence of climate change.3 The Peninsula Principles4 provide additional guidance as do safeguard policies developed by the World Bank5 and contained in the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement.6
The consultation’s participants in Sanremo – representatives of States, international organizations, academics, experts and civil society representatives – are expected to identify gaps in existing knowledge, laws and policies that need to be filled as well as decide how best to articulate the guidance that is needed.

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