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Forced Displacement and the Role of Research in the 21st Century

June 8, 2023
UNHCR, Geneva


The UK Government-financed program, Building the Evidence on Forced Displacement, was the first broad research partnership between the World Bank and the UNHCR. The program was designed to finance research that could help finding lasting solutions for refugees and IDPs by leveraging the complementary strengths of the two organizations. It evolved into a seven-year program (2016-2023) that allocated over $16 million in research grants, leading to the undertaking of over 130 studies across five continents.  During this same period, research on forced displacement within the social sciences has transitioned from being a minor sub-area of migration studies, with only a few studies rarely published in refereed journals, to becoming a major field of research. Today, thousands of studies on forced displacement are published in top social science journals. At the same time, all major organizations engaged in assisting displaced people, including the World Bank, UNHCR, WFP, ICRC, IOM, and others, have changed the way they use data and research to inform their operations. By any measure, this has been an epochal change which coincided with a major period of growth in the global number of displaced populations.

How did these changes come about, and what impact have they had on the operations of the World Bank, UNHCR, and other organizations, as well as on the lives of refugees and IDPs? Are we now better equipped than we were a decade ago to make decisions on projects and programs aimed at assisting the forcibly displaced? This event will draw upon the expertise and insights gained from the Building the Evidence on Forced Displacement research program to evaluate the achievements thus far and identify areas where research can further contribute to the needs of refugees, IDPs, and their hosts.


  1. Present key research findings and provide examples of their practical application.
  2. Assess the progress made in forced displacement research
  3. Identify the key issues that constrain the effective utilization of research in FD operations
  4. Engage in broader reflections on the role of research in humanitarian contexts