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Two steps forward, one step back: Internal displacement and the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development

This week, progress against the targets of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development is being reviewed at the High Level Political Forum in New York. The six Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in focus this year are on reducing poverty (SDG 1), hunger (SDG 2), improving health (SDG 3), gender equality (SDG 5), building resilient industry and infrastructure (SDG 9), and protecting the marine environment (SDG 14).

All of the goals are relevant to internal displacement as progress can help prevent displacement and reduce its negative impacts. However, investments into these six areas can also generate new vulnerabilities and risks, and undermine the overall achievement of the 2030 agenda. One risk is forced displacement of people from their homes and livelihoods.

This briefing paper explores the relationship between the six goals under review this year and internal displacement across the globe. SDG 9, and the associated investments in infrastructure and industrial development, is of particular interest: while building resilient infrastructure is critical to broader economic development, it also regularly displaces people from their homes, and can result in new poverty and marginalisation.

The trade-offs inherent in development investment must therefore be made visible. Participants at this year’s High Level Forum should consider the connections between the different SDGs, to make sure progress in area does not set back advances in others. In this briefing paper, we highlight these connections and the need to identify, measure and expose both progress and setbacks within the 2030 Agenda.