Displacement, disasters and climate change

Disasters accounted for more than 50 per cent of internal displacements in 2021. As extreme weather events become more common in a changing climate, ever more people are at risk. Through this research, we examine the scale, patterns, drivers and impacts of internal displacement associated with slow-onset environmental change and disasters to inform policies and practices.

IDMC has been monitoring displacement associated with disasters for over two decades. In 2021, we recorded 23.7 million disaster displacements. In line with previous years, weather-related disasters accounted for the majority of these internal displacements, with floods and storms jointly causing 21.6 million internal displacements.

Beyond displacements caused by sudden onset hazards, we are also recording increasing numbers of new displacements associated with slow onset hazards such as droughts. To do so, we have developed a new methodology to increase confidence in displacement estimates, as well as an analytical framework to better understand the drivers, triggers and impacts of internal displacement in the context of climate change in view of improving prevention and response. To understand and identify steps towards long-term solutions at the country-level, we have conducted research on drought displacement in countries such as Somalia, Ethiopia, and Niger.


Inhabitants of developing island states in the Pacific are amongst those most at risk of being displaced by disasters. Our Pacific Response to Disaster Displacement (PRDD) project is generating new evidence to better understand, plan for, prevent, and respond to disaster displacement in the Pacific region. Already, we have published disaster displacement risk profiles for Vanuatu, Tonga, Solomon Islands and Marshall Islands.

Our 2021 Global Report on Internal Displacement included a special focus on disaster displacement and the impacts of climate change. Dispelling the myths associated with disaster displacement and providing more reliable data can help focus our actions and investments to tackle displacement in a changing climate. So can the identification and analysis of initiatives that have successfully prevented or responded to displacement in changing climate, another of IDMC’s research themes.


IDMC GRID2022 Total Number of IDPs by Disasters as of 31 Decemeber 2021



Christelle Cazabat

We are always looking to strengthen and expand our existing partnerships. If you are interested in working with our research team, please contact christelle.cazabat@idmc.ch.