Climate action

Climate change is increasingly linked to conflict and human displacement.

UNHCR provides protection and assistance to forcibly displaced people affected by climate change, while also helping them enhance their resilience in the face of a changing climate.

Internally displaced women have planted 2,000 trees in the Bogo Internally Displaced Persons site in the Far North region of Cameroon. © UNHCR/Eugene Sibomana
Internally displaced women have planted 2,000 trees in the Bogo Internally Displaced Persons site in the Far North region of Cameroon. © UNHCR/Eugene Sibomana
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UNHCR is one of the largest humanitarian agencies. Its operations reach areas that are at the very centre of the intersection of conflict and climate vulnerability, where millions of people face displacement, urgently requiring assistance and protection. 

Widespread drought in Asia and the Horn of Africa and massive flooding in Pakistan and South Sudan illustrate the disastrous impact of climate change. With 70% of refugees and 80% of internally displaced people originating from countries on the front lines of the climate crisis, millions of refugees, internally displaced and stateless people are living in climate “hotspots”. They typically lack the resources to adapt to an increasingly inhospitable environment.  

 

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How is UNHCR addressing the problem of climate change?  

UNHCR is working towards a future vision for 2030, firmly rooted in the ambition of UNHCR’s 2022-2026 Strategic Directions, and aligned to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC):   

“By 2030, increasing numbers of forcibly displaced and stateless people fleeing from climate-fuelled crises and/or living in climate-vulnerable countries find solutions, are protected and resilient to the impacts of climate change, and have the means to live self-sufficient lives.”   

Building on the “Strategic framework for climate action”, which was launched in 2020, our new Strategic Plan for Climate Action 2024-2030 details a global roadmap for prioritized action in support of host governments to realize this ambitious goal.   

Read the "Strategic plan for climate action 2024 - 2030"

Bold action can avert the catastrophic consequences of the climate crisis that millions of displaced people now face. We must move away from a reactive approach to something more proactive, where we understand where the threats are, and we do something about them.  

For more information on UNHCR’s climate action, news, and stories please visit the “Climate change and disaster displacement” page on UNHCR.org. 

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Our focus countries

UNHCR has identified 22 countries where climate change and its impacts will be experienced most severely by 2030. These countries – already fragile due to poverty and insecurity – will find it particularly challenging to adapt. 

UNHCR will focus on supporting these countries during the first years of the strategic plan. The list of countries will be reviewed and adjusted regularly as circumstances change.  

UNHCR's priority actions will vary depending on the country and may involve one or more of the following:  

  • leverage for inclusion;  

  • programme for development;  

  • humanitarian action for climate resilience. 

 

Collectively, these 22 countries host 52% of internally displaced people, 24% of stateless people and 28% of refugees, with numbers likely to rise. Among these, UNHCR is particularly concerned about nine countries with very large populations of displaced and stateless people (500,000 or more).

These countries feel most deeply the climate emergency, yet they lack substantial planned development investment in climate adaptation and resilience and are not included in global climate financing instruments.

Financial

 

In 2024, UNHCR seeks  $1.074 billion for activities supporting climate action

For more details about the climate needs in 2024 check the dedicated page in the Global Appeal.

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Innovative finance projects

Solar panel infrastructure

 

Green Financing Facility 

  • Innovative financing project to support UNHCR offices to transition to renewable energy, using tailored approaches for larger and smaller offices (see below). 

  • Supporting humanitarian, development and peace-making efforts by creating commercially viable clean energy opportunities in fragile contexts. 

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Kigoma refugee in plantation site

 

Refugee Environmental Protection Fund 

  • An innovative and sustainable financing mechanism to invest in reforestation and clean-cooking programmes in climate-vulnerable refugee-hosting communities worldwide. 

  • The carbon impact of these programmes aims to generate the first-ever refugee-generated carbon credits. 

  • Creation of green jobs for refugees and host communities. 

Read more 

 © UNHCR/Jiro Ose

 

Project Flow 

  • A 10-year project, with a budget of $10 million, to solarize 100-160 boreholes. 

  • Multiplier effect of funding enhances sustainability and efficiency. 

  • Projected to avoid over 180,000 tons of CO₂ emissions. 

Read more 

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UNHCR has also established the Environment and Climate Action Innovation Fund to realize the best climate-related proposals from UNHCR staff, reflecting a commitment to providing lasting benefits for people and the planet. 

UNHCR is committed to enhancing the sustainability of its supply chain for core relief items by reducing carbon emissions and using recycled materials. UNHCR aims not just to address immediate humanitarian needs but also to contribute to a greener and more environmentally responsible future for those affected by displacement. 

Stories

Young Rohingya refugees leading campaign to make people aware of proper waste management.  They are building waste bins from bamboo and installing them around the camp. © UNHCR/Kamrul Hasan

 

Young Rohingya refugees are helping to turn world's largest camp green

Youth groups are championing efforts to regreen refugee camps in Bangladesh and to raise awareness about the impacts of the climate crisis.

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An Afghan Refugee family benefits from Solar lanterns for Short-Term Energy Solution in New Saranan refugee village, Balochistan, Pakistan. © UNHCR/Mercury Transformations

 

Light brings hope for 2,000 families affected by flooding in Balochistan, Pakistan

In Pakistan’s remote Balochistan province, UNHCR, with the support of the international community, has revolutionized flood-affected communities’ access to energy, bringing lighting and clean cooking facilities to homes.

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oung climate and envirnment activits plant a mango tree in Tongogara refugee camp. They belong to the Refugee Coalition for Climate Action  (RCCA) in Tongogara.

 

Young refugees champion climate action in Zimbabwe’s Tongogara camp

Three young refugees are leading efforts to restore their environment and inspiring others to join them in combating climate change.

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