What does climate change mean for humanitarian response?

“Global emissions are reaching record levels and show no sign of peaking… We are starting to see the life-threatening impact of climate change on health, through air pollution, heatwaves and risks to food security.`` (United Nations Climate Summit 2019)

With a climate-related disaster being recorded every week, it seems that soon no one will be untouched by the impacts of climate change (Harvey, 2019). The United Nations recently held its Climate Action Summit to develop a global action plan to combat the effects. One action point focused on developing local level capacity for humanitarian response, particularly in those communities and nations most vulnerable.

However, resources are already struggling to keep up with present need. The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) estimates that an extra US$20 billion is required to reach the 200 million people affected by climate related disasters every year (IFRC, 2019).

Experts are describing climate change as the cause of the most under-reported humanitarian crises such as famine, civil war and disease outbreak (Nelson, 2019). The interplay of climate change along with the rise of deadly diseases and state fragility increases the likelihood and severity of disasters occurring. Within this context, the work of humanitarian NGOs is vital. UK-Med is seeking to grow both our deployment capability, and capacity building work, in order to respond to the growing need for emergency healthcare in humanitarian crises.

Learn more:

The Disaster Alert and Coordination System tracks environmental disasters as they occur in real-time: https://www.gdacs.org/.

UNOCHA’s Faces of climate change campaign documents the lives of individuals and communities living with the devastating effects of climate change: https://www.unocha.org/story/faces-climate-change.

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