Development and Humanitarian Community Came Together in the Meeting “Human Mobility in the Anthropocene” held by UNDP Turkey

April 26, 2021

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Turkey Office brought together experts in the field of development, sustainability, humanitarian support and social benefit at an online meeting “Human Mobility in the Anthropocene”. The meeting, as a follow-up event of 2020 Human Development Report (HDR) released by UNDP was held online in cooperation with UNDP Turkey, Habitat Association, Human Development Foundation (INGEV) and Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV). The event hosted discussions in various dimensions the subject of migration as a top item of the international agenda because of global challenges such as increased inequalities, hunger, poverty, the climate crisis, natural disaster, environmental disasters, war and conflicts in the new period called Anthropocene - “the Age of Humans” by scientists and where human beings wielded the power to shape the future of the planet.

UNDP HDR 2020 Follow-up Event “Human Mobility in the Anthropocene” was held online on Wednesday, April 21. In the event called “Anthropocene- the Age of Humans” which was held with the participation of national and international experts, civil society representatives, think-tanks and academicians who conducted studies on migration, the subject of “Migration” as one of the oldest phenomena of the human history was discussed. The online event was moderated by Başak Şengül and keynote speeches delivered by Sezai Hazır, President of the Executive Board of Habitat Association, Prof. Dr. Güven Sak, Programme Director of TEPAV and Vural Çakır, President of INGEV.

Mr. Sukhrob Khojimatov, UNDP Turkey Deputy Resident Representative who made a presentation “2020 Human Development Report: New Border; Anthropocene and Human Development” on behalf of UNDP, emphasized that human beings moved around the world throughout history and stated that human beings changed the earth in a manner that any other living things did not. Stating that the pressure of human beings on our planet was so high that we entered a new epoch called the age of humans, Khojimatov underlined the relationship between the phenomenon of migration and global challenges such as equitable and sustainable development, elimination of inequalities, hunger, poverty, climate crisis, natural disaster, environmental disasters, war and conflicts.

3.5 percent of the world’s population are refugees

Sharing the data on the status of global mobility in his presentation, Khojimatov stated that the number of refugees across the world reached 3.5 percent of the world’s population by rising to 272 million and the number of forcibly displaced people exceeded 80 million according to the analysis of World Migration Report 2020 of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). According to the data, the global refugee population reached around 26 million.

Stating that Turkey was still a country which hosted the largest refugee population in the world, Khojimatov noted that approximately 90 percent of refugees in the world were hosted by developing countries and emphasized that long-term, sustainable new solutions should target both host communities under migration pressure and refugees, and added that it was time to adopt a new approach that would address displacement in a more comprehensive manner and take into consideration the potential destructive effects of this issue on lives of displaced people and host communities, and the results of on the development of all the communities.

Relationship between Human Mobility, Development, Welfare and International Stability

Making a presentation in the session “Human Mobility, Development, Welfare and International Stability”, Marie McAuliffe, IOM Head of the Migration Research Division, stated that the global mobility came to a halt because of the COVID-19 pandemic and emphasized that every geography and country had different characteristics regarding migration, therefore movements of migration should be addressed in its own contexts. Underlining the importance of global cooperation on human mobility, migration and refugees, McAuliffe emphasized that the share of climate change and natural disasters in forced displacement gradually increased and added that the number of displaced people because of natural disasters in 2020 was almost three times as high as the number of displaced people because of wars and conflicts. Stating that the COVID-19 pandemic affected migrants and refugees who were the most vulnerable group of the society in an extremely adverse manner, McAuliffe emphasized that racism based on xenophobia also increased during that period.

Giving a speech in the same session, David Khoudour, Human Mobility Advisor of UNDP, emphasized that it was necessary to manage the issues arising from migration pressure and turn risks into advantages with long-term, inclusive policies and mechanisms. Underlining the importance of connecting forcibly displaced people with development policies of countries, Khoudour noted that it was important that refugees stood on their own feet without being dependent on assistance and host countries were also supported by the international community. Pointing out to the negative perceptions and discussions on migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in the international arena, Khoudour noted that economic migrants contributed to the society in which they lived; the perception was extremely wrong that refugees and asylum seekers created a burden for destination countries; and the key determinant of this subject was various national and international policies and mechanisms. Khoudour also stated that in the long term and when correct policies were implemented, refugees contributed to the society in which they lived.

Human Mobility, Migration, Refugees and Beyond: The Case of Turkey

In the panel on “Human mobility, forced displacement, refugees and beyond: Turkey as a migration laboratory” which was held following the event and moderated by Ruşen İnceoğlu, Communications Officer, Syria Crisis Response and Resilience, UNDP Turkey; Prof. Dr. Ayhan Kaya, Department of International Relations, Istanbul Bilgi University; Assoc. Prof. Dr. Saime Özçürümez, Department of Political Science and Public Administration, Bilkent University; and Assoc. Prof. Dr. Başak Kale, Department of International Relations, METU, addressed the experience on migration of Turkey which still hosted the largest refugee population in the world.  

UNDP Turkey’s Work for Migrants and Refugees

As a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) system related to sustainable development, UNDP has been operating in Turkey for more than 50 years. Since 2014, UNDP has implemented various projects to alleviate the negative effects of Syria crisis.

Including a project pool with the size of around 90 million dollars in total in the fields of Promoting Livelihoods, Social Adaptation and Strengthening Municipalities, UNDP Turkey provides long-term, sustainable, structural and innovative proposals for solution towards the issues of refugees and host countries through these projects that are funded by donor countries such as USA, Germany, Korea, Japan, especially European Union (EU). The key approach of UNDP Turkey on migration and displacement is to strengthen both refugees and institutions, local authorities and labour markets of host countries.

UNDP Turkey supports local authorities and municipalities under migration pressure with environmental and urban infrastructure projects, and builds the innovation and entrepreneurship culture in order to strengthen local economies and create new employment opportunities and establishes Model Factory and Innovation Centres in order to ensure technology-oriented transformation in the manufacturing industry. Also, UNDP Turkey enables 52.000 Syrians to gain Turkish language skills through “Blended Learning” which includes distance learning, as well. UNDP Turkey strengthens social cohesion between Turkish and Syrian youth through vocational and technical training, access to labour markets with vocational and career counselling and activities such as sports, entrepreneurship and training.

For more information:

Dr. Faik Uyanık, Head of Communications, UNDP Turkey,

Ruşen İnceoğlu, Communications Officer, Syria Crisis Response and Resilience, UNDP Turkey,