Aid agencies call for climate change protocol to include humanitarian impact

[with UN TV video]  Geneva, Switzerland and Bonn, Germany (GenevaLunch) – Eighteen United Nations and non-UN aid agencies 8 June issued a joint statement arguing for “humanitarian impacts” to be included in the new climate change protocol. A December meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark of ministers from around the world will seek to replace the Kyoto Protocol, adopted in 1997. A new agreement must “set out a workable approach to help the world counter the impacts of extreme weather events and environmental degradation on vulnerable communities,” the Inter-Agency Standing Committee argues.

The group calls for a new humanitarian business model that focuses on prevention and preparedness and that strengthens local and regional capacities to cope with climate-related disasters.

The potential scale of the humanitarian challenge is huge, the group says, noting its three main areas of concern:

  • 211 million people are affected by disasters every year, five times the number touched by conflict, and the number has been rising for the past decade;
  • climate change is expected to dramatically affect patterns of migration and population movement. “While migration is already a form of adaptation for some, the many millions expected to be displaced by prolonged droughts, repeated floods or storms will be especially vulnerable and require significant assistance and protection.” More than 20 million people migrated in 2008 as a result of sudden-onset disasters.
  • The Copenhagen agreement “presents a rare opportunity to shape and guide the international response to the humanitarian consequences of climate change over the next decade,” but a new humanitarian business model will be needed.

Several agencies from Geneva are part of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee:

IFRC, International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent
IOM, International Organization for Migration
UNHCR, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
WHO, World Health Organization
OCHA, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

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  1. jerry says:

    Very interesting, but how many of those 211 million are displaced by the proven affects of climate change?

  2. The figures represents the number of people affected by natural disasters and while no one is putting forth figures for how many of these are the direct result of climate change, nor even if the number of disasters is growing, the number of people affected is clearly growing, and this is the concern of the agencies. Some of this is clearly due to population growth and migration, sometimes creating larger urban clusters and sometimes putting people in areas that are less safe. But the World Meteorological Organization recently said that 2 million people have died from 75 natural disasters in the past 30 years, 75 percent of which were weather related: