Two steps forward, one step back: Internal displacement and the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development' 

A Briefing Paper by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC)

Authored by Nadine Walicki

This July, progress against the targets of the UN 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development was reviewed at a High Level Political Forum in New York. The six Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in focus this year were on reducing poverty (SDG 1), hunger (SDG 2), improving health (SDG 3), gender equality (SDG 5), building resilient industry and infrastructure (SDG 9), and protecting the marine environment (SDG 14).

All of the goals are relevant to internal displacement as progress can help prevent displacement and reduce its negative impacts. However, investments into these six areas can also generate new vulnerabilities and risks as well as violate peoples’ rights. This can undermine the overall achievement of the 2030 agenda, which explicitly states the 17 sustainable development goals in the agenda seek to realize the human rights of all.

One risk is forced displacement of people from their homes and livelihoods. This often leads to impoverishment and marginalisation, but these adverse impacts of development are rarely accounted for in reviewing progress against development targets. The result is a positively skewed assessment of development progress that is not in line with the reality on the ground.

This briefing paper explores the relationship between the six goals reviewed this year and internal displacement across the globe. SDG 9, and the associated investments in infrastructure and industrial development, is of particular interest: while building resilient infrastructure is critical to broader economic and social development, it also regularly displaces people from their homes and livelihoods, and can result in new poverty and marginalisation.

The trade-offs inherent in development investment must therefore be made visible and accounted for in review exercises. The connections between the different SDGs must be considered, to make sure progress in area does not set back advances in others. In this briefing paper, IDMC highlights these connections and the need to identify, measure and expose both progress and setbacks within the 2030 Agenda.


New Directions in Displacement Research

On behalf of the MIT Displacement Research Action Network we are honored to share with you our feature virtual symposium “New Directions in Displacement Research” an examination of recent scholarship on displacement and evictions from the Global North and South.  

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DRAN Conference on Hydroproject Displacement Mentioned in Resettlement News Publication

It is an honor for DRAN's spring 2016 conference, "The State of Hydropower Projects Today" to be featured in the January/July 2016 edition of Resettlement News, a specialized publication that has appeared in India bi-annually for nearly 16 years. 

An excerpt: 

"The building of many large-scale hydropower projects has not registered over the
last decades a record of comprehensive successes, and thus has triggered strong
challenges and public criticism. Among various social and environmental disfunctionalities,
such constructions have also been accompanied by preventable social
disasters and impoverishment consequences resulting from several typical causes: the
misplanning and underfinancing of the projects’ forced displacement and resettlement
components; massive cost overruns; extensive construction delays; and cumulative
short- and long term negative environmental impacts.. The workshop was convened to
enable a group of known scholars in the development field to take stock of important
lessons, discuss them, and identify ways in which past errors might be avoided in the

Read the full text here

Update: Boston Chinatown Eviction Mapping

DRAN is continuing its work documenting displacement in Boston's Chinatown district.

Check out the live tool at:

Chinatown Displacement Project is a data collecting and mapping platform documenting the gentrification and displacement in Chinatown, Boston. The platform is developed by MIT's Displacement Research and Action Network in collaboration with the Chinese Progressive Association.

Boston’s Chinatown is the third-largest Chinatown in the nation and serves as the social, cultural, political, and economic center of the broader Chinese community of New England. Today, the neighborhood is one of the most rapidly gentrifying part of the city, where new luxury residential developments drive up property values. As a result, hundreds of families were displaced and many are at risk of being evicted. Through creating exploratory and interactive visual representation of displacement and market-led gentrification, we aim to support advocacy work of organizations preventing and responding to evictions and displacement.

Learn more by visiting the full project website here.


OCTOBER 7, 2016


The DRAN Team is excited to announce the start a new project funded by the Samuel Tak Lee Research Fund. The project will compare compensation frameworks for displaced individuals and communities across five different countries—USA, India, South Africa, Colombia and Brazil—along with international standards from the World Bank and various UN bodies. Each national compensation framework will be analyzed in practice through 5 detailed case studies using qualitative and quantitative methods. Key issues to be addressed in the project will include: the different ways in which landed property is assigned value; the rights afforded to communities in negotiating for compensation; and some possible alternative compensation frameworks that could be pursued by governments or international agencies. DRAN is extremely appreciative of the STL Fund for making this exciting new project possible. You can read the abstract for the proposal on the STL website by clicking here



This proposal relates to ‘land and property rights’ and ‘sustainable urbanization’ in the RFP. Each year, millions of urban, peri-urban and rural residents lose access to land through ‘takings’. Governments have always asserted their power to expropriate or ‘take’ land owned or occupied by their citizens, provided that they don’t render them worse off. Typically, this is sought to be done through a “fair” process of land acquisition, as well as a “fair” compensation for the losses resulting from the ‘taking’. Other actors such as land lords or developers are also often enabled through laws and policies to displace residents, which constitute a form of land and housing dispossession although not ‘taking’ in strict legal sense. At the heart of these land dispossessions is the question of what constitutes fair compensation or assistance. Most land takings lead to disputes, with a serious impact on public order, and resistance from those whose lands and houses are taken. In this project, we propose to analyze the legal and policy frameworks that govern property in land in a select number of countries, from both global North and South, and specifically examine the compensation and assistance frameworks that are used. The main purpose of this project is to understand the legal and policy frameworks used by different actors – private developers, governments, and land users, owners/occupiers – to estimate what constitutes fair compensation and assistance in a context of hyper urbanization and commodification of land. To do this, we will analyze 5 selected countries (US, India, Brazil, Colombia, South Africa), which have been dentified by our research group, the Displacement Research and Action Network (DRAN). The purpose is to examine how far the laws, policies and practices of these countries measure up against global standards and tools that are available, such as the Eviction Impact Assessment Tool1, and the UN Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development-Induced Displacement, for estimating losses from land takings and displacement. A comparison of the different countries may yield useful lessons for other countries such as China, by showing how different models of land governance may lead to different outcomes.