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Getting to 2030: internal displacement and sustainable development


2018 is the year of the 20th anniversary of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement and of the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), established in 1998 as the world’s authoritative source of data, research and analysis on internal displacement. To mark the occasion, IDMC convened an interdisciplinary conference that brought together researchers on human mobility, economics and sustainable development, humanitarian and development practitioners and policy makers.

With a focus on the Sustainable Development Goals and how they relate to internal displacement at the national level, the conference explored ways to integrate the concern for reducing internal displacement into national development and economic planning. 

Over 100 participants from academia, national governments, civil society and intergovernmental organisations working on internal displacement and sustainable development gathered on October 18.


Summary report

Anniversary summary report








Download the summary of the day's exchanges here.



Introductory remarks

Alexandra Bilak, Director of IDMC, launched the event with a reflection upon the last 20 years of monitoring, analysing and reporting on internal displacement, progress achieved and yet to be achieved. Recent crises in Ethiopia, Syria, Yemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria and the Central African Republic are examples of the challenges posed to governments affected by the phenomenon. High-income countries, with the example of the recent floods in France, can also be impacted, but low and lower-middle income countries are often the ones that face the most severe consequences of internal displacement. Humanitarian action can no longer be considered sufficient to respond to displacement risk, political and development actors must also step in. IDMC’s anniversary event is dedicated to looking at the multi-dimensional impacts of internal displacement and understanding how it affects the development trajectories of different countries.

Keynote speech

Maria Luisa Silva, Director of the United Nations Development Programme’s Office in Geneva, introduced the conference by reflecting on the complex humanitarian, political and development challenges posed by displacement. Leaving no one behind is central to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Although the Global Compact on Migration will refer to internal displacement, there is a need to strengthen responses – in particular since climate change threatens to multiply the incidence and intensity of disasters, increasing internal displacement. Alongside conflict and natural hazards, lack of political will and unsustainable development can also result in protracted displacement. There is a need to look beyond humanitarian assistance for effective actions. Building on the momentum of the New Way of Working, concerted efforts will be needed to bridge the humanitarian development nexus and support progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. 


Thematic discussions

Several topics were discussed throughout the day:

The multidimensional impacts of internal displacement

  • Artjoms Ivlevs, Bristol Business School, University of the West of England. Long-term labour market outcomes and access to education and health services of internally displaced persons in the post-socialist countries
    Download the presentation 
  • Priyadarshani Joshi, Global Education Monitoring Report, UNESCO. The Education Challenge and Interventions in Forced Displacement Contexts - Preliminary Findings from the 2019 GEM Report
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  • Soazic Elise Wang Sonne, UC Berkely/UNU-MERIT. Long-term effects of displacement on second generation's early childhood development in host communities: Evidence from Burundi 
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  • Rebecca Parrish, Brunel University London. Planetary Health and displacement: A new inter-disciplinary scientific approach for exploring sustainable development within a healthy environment
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Leaving no one behind

  • Veronique Barbelet, Humanitarian Policy Group at the Overseas Development Institute. Inclusion of vulnerable groups in response to internal displacement
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  • Ellie Kemp, Translators Without Borders. Mind your language: communicating with internally displaced people in Northeast Nigeria
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  • Irina Kuznetsova, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham. IDPs in Ukraine: Intersectionality, vulnerability and exclusion
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Internal displacement in Azerbaijan and the role of educational policies: a personal experience

  • Rahman Shahhuseynli, ADA University. Reconsidering the role and impact of higher education on IDP in Azerbaijan: a personal story and perspective from a refugee-turned IDP
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Unsustainable development and displacement

Political participation and social cohesion

  • Deanna Kolberg, University of Michigan. Electoral Participation after Displacement in Colombia
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  • Adam G. Lichtenheld, Institute for the Study of International Migration, Georgetown University. The Micro-Politics of Wartime Displacement: Implications fro Post-Conflict Peace and Development
  • Hannah Roberts and Tetyana Durnyeva, International Foundation for Electoral Systems in Ukraine. Internally Displaced Persons and Electoral Participation
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Solutions in practice: panel discussion

  • Ana Mosneaga, Japan Platform. Technological disasters, displacement and sustainable development: insights from Fukushima 
  • Champa Patel, Chatham House, The Royal Institute of International Affairs. Access to Justice: Challenges of Ensuring Housing, Property and Land Rights for IDPs in Afghanistan 
  • Andrea Wegner, Chemonics International Inc. Connecting IDP Policy to Practice: A View from the Field in Iraq and Syria






Find a selection of photos from the conference and reception here.



For its next issue, the Journal of Internal Displacement is collaborating with IDMC to build on the outcomes from the conference, as well as inviting additional contributions that explore how internal displacement concerns fit into national and global sustainable development efforts and the UN prevention agenda. Find submission guidelines and their call for papers here