Development environment

Development investments

Displacement caused by development investments is the forcing of people and communities from their homes and/or land for the purposes of a development project or business activity.

Development investments can bring benefits to society, but can also imposes dramatic costs to selected groups, including those that are displaced as a result. People displaced by development projects often end up worse off as a result of the loss of access to housing, land, natural resources, food security, education and livelihoods. Their physical security is also at risk if they resist displacement or if force is used during the eviction process. Entire communities are left marginalised, impoverished and more vulnerable.

There is no current global estimate of the number of people displaced by development. Their whereabouts and fate are also unknown. Despite the existence of international standards to guide displacement and resettlement, many displaced are left to search for improvised options on their own and when assistance is provided, it is usually insufficient to rebuild their lives.

This displacement undermines development gains and is a global neglected crisis currently not covered in IDMC’s displacement estimates. As a result – and due to the complexity of the drivers, contexts and impacts of situations in which such displacement occurs – it is largely absent from the international development and displacement agendas. 

Our Work

Our work on this issue began in 2015 with first explorations on how to paint a comprehensive picture of global internal displacement and highlight development as a driver of displacement in need of specific attention.

Our aim is to reveal the global scale of displacement associated with development, and provide evidence on its human, economic, social and political impacts in order to convince policymakers that the problem requires their urgent attention.