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New Housing, Land and Property Multistakeholder Pledge to Feature at 2023 Global Refugee Forum

Among the pledges and global commitments to be announced at the 2023 Global Refugee Forum (GRF) is a new multistakeholder pledge that follows the theme Advancing Durable Solutions through Secure Housing, Land and Property Rights and effectively promotes sustainable reintegration, local integration, and other local solutions, thereby contributing to Objectives 1 and 4 of the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) – to ease the pressures on host countries, and support conditions in countries of origin for return in safety and dignity.

Residential complex impacted during Russia's war on Ukraine, 2022
Residential complex impacted during Russia's war on Ukraine, 2022

This second edition of the GRF will be held in Geneva, Switzerland, 13-15 December at the 106,000 square meters Palexpo – one of the country’s largest convention and exhibition centers. A sure sign of the global uptake and keen interest among a wide cross-section of stakeholders, the 2023 GRF is expected to see the announcement of newly configured pledges and contributions that advance the objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR).

Initiated jointly by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) as facilitator, this new Multistakeholder Pledge seeks to consolidate and build upon the many promising practices at the national and sub-national levels that reinforce adequate housing as a human right, and secure access to land as a cross-cutting imperative for durable solutions and long-term development outcomes.

According to Dr. Jamal Browne, UNHCR Focal Point on Housing, Land and Property Rights (HLP), the new Multistakeholder Pledge has been framed against a backdrop of persistent challenges and long-established barriers to tenure security in displacement situations and therefore offers the architecture for a more predictable, equitable and sustainable system of response to the housing, land and property challenges facing refugees, returnees and their host communities.

Normatively, access to land has been identified in some of the UN System’s most authoritative guiding documents – including ECOSOC’s General Comment No. 26 (2022) on land and economic, social and cultural rights UNCCD’s Global Land Outlook (Second Edition) – as a key factor and operative link between global trends such as climate change, disaster risk, land degradation, desertification, food insecurity, biodiversity loss, and the consequent escalation of tensions over access to and use of land and natural resources and forced displacement.

The impact of climate change alone on access to and use of productive land across many of our operations has been most evident. In coastal zones, sea level rise continues to impact housing and livelihoods, while changing patterns of precipitation and the increasing frequency of extreme weather events such as droughts and floods are increasingly affecting access to land across various geographical and climatic zones.

In view of this, the international community today recognizes the centrality of secure land rights in facilitating access to a range of human rights, including the right to food, shelter, water, sanitation, health, work, security, and freedom of movement, among others.

Burundian refugee returnees in focus group discussion on HLP rights
Burundian refugee returnees in focus group discussion on HLP rights, 2022

Acknowledging the importance of international solidarity and shared responsibility in durable solutions programming, Dr. Browne stated, "With the support of UN-Habitat and NRC, we have formulated a pledge that we believe will inspire greater burden- and responsibility sharing among a wide cross-section of actors committed to increasing the proportion of forcibly displaced women, men, girls and boys with secure rights in housing, land and property."

The UNHCR HLP Focal Point further outlined that the pledge presents an opportunity for Member States, multilateral financial institutions, development cooperation and foreign aid agencies, refugee-led, civil society and humanitarian organizations to consolidate their commitments towards provisions for housing, land and property restitution; formally-recognized documentation of tenure in housing and land allocations; material and in-kind support for adequate housing and land allocation, underpinned by secure tenure and taking into consideration the differentiated experiences of women, men, girls and boys in access to housing and land.

Recognizing the need to align pledges and contributions in response to the gaps and challenges identified in-country, the Durable Solutions | Housing, Land and Property Pledge Guidance has been developed by the pledge’s core group – which also offers a tool for quality assurance of pledge submissions.

This guiding document details the various areas of focus of the multistakeholder pledge and provides a menu of pledging modalities that range from Member State commitments and the in-kind support of other pledging entities, to technical assistance and financial contributions from multilateral actors and donors. Importantly, it has been framed with an outlook towards scaled-up, global action on tenure security for forcibly displaced persons and their host communities.

The 2023 GRF is co-convened by Colombia, France, Japan, Jordan, Niger, and Uganda, together with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.


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