Marking World Refugee Day

Together we can achieve anything | Logos for UNHCR and World Refugee Day

The year 2020 produced some of the highest rates of displacement seen in the past two decades worldwide. Climate change is intensifying environmental challenges such as fires, droughts, floods, hurricanes and rising sea levels, resulting in greater numbers of internally and externally (cross-border) displaced persons. These circumstances create unique challenges and demands around citizenship, rights and political participation.

On June 20, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) marks World Refugee Day in solidarity with persons who are forced to flee their homes due to conflict, climate disasters or other crises. IFES supports the rights of every person to dignity, safety, opportunity and equal participation in decisions that affect their lives. Over the past three decades, IFES has supported out-of-country voting (OCV) for refugees in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. IFES assists governments and international stakeholders with developing electoral legal frameworks, procedures and plans, applying lessons learned and international good practices.  

Together #withrefugees we build democracies that deliver for all.

In response to the increased global risk for climate-induced displacement, IFES published Electoral Rights of Environmentally Displaced Persons to examine the unique needs, challenges and interventions needed to support environmentally displaced persons’ participation in elections. Environmentally displaced people share many of the challenges faced by those displaced by conflict – with important distinctions.

  • Hundreds of millions may be affected by environmental displacement, making the need even more pronounced.
  • Some environmental displacement risks are predictable, so advance planning can take place.
  • There is an existential need given the global threat from climate change and the importance of hearing the voices of those most at risk or affected.
  • The protection gap for persons who are intentionally displaced due to environmental challenges jeopardizes their ability to participate in elections.

Electoral Rights of Environmentally  Displaced Persons cover + "How can key stakeholders plan for climate-related risks to democracy? How can environmentally displaced persons participate safely and equally in political life?"


We invite you to read the report to learn more about the impact of climate change on electoral participation and recommendations for engaging displaced populations. As we commemorate World Refugee Day 2021, IFES remains committed to the inclusion and empowerment of displaced people and their right to equally engage civically.

Published on June 17, 2021.

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