Global challenge 1:

Climate and environmental crises

5 Global challenges – What do we need to prioritize this decade?

The five global challenges emerging from the Strategy 2030 consultations are a balance of existing and emerging risks, that are most relevant to our mandate and our scope of influence. These are inseparable from each other and are heavily influenced by trends identified in our Global Thematic Futures Report.

Climate change is one of the biggest risks and a threat multiplier, facing humanity in the coming decades. Rising climate risks already affect almost every aspect of our work, including health, shelter, livelihoods, and disaster risk reduction. Climate change also increases the uncertainties we face and will accelerate displacement in densely populated regions. At the same time, these events will be increasingly complex, compounded by poverty, disease, displacement, and conflict, and interacting with urbanization and population growth, putting increased pressure on scarce natural resources, including the demand for food and water. These intersecting issues is ramping up exposure and vulnerability. From increasing climate-related risks in cities, in regions already suffering from violent conflict, and the grave consequences for the mental health and psychosocial well-being of the individuals and communities who are affected. 

As the world adapts to rising risks and implements what needs to be a radical shift towards a low-carbon economy, our role to address and bring attention to the needs of people in vulnerable situations will be increasingly important. Adaptation and mitigation must be high on our collective agenda for human well-being and integrated into all of our work. We will need to be prepared for and anticipate events ranging from local emergencies to mega-disasters, from predictable events to unexpected disasters. More holistically, we will also dedicate more concentrated efforts to reducing human vulnerability to longer-term consequences of climate change that will threaten development, poverty reduction and water and food security. 

Our focus over the coming decade must be on reducing the current and future humanitarian impacts of climate change and to support people to thrive in the face of it.

Climate change can no longer be viewed in isolation. Climate risk management and the underlying drivers of vulnerability must be integrated into all of our programmes and operations.

We need to embrace early action models, scientific forecasts, and other innovations that can improve our response.

We also need to adopt better environmental management and nature-based solutions in our approaches to addressing exposure and vulnerability. 

As decisions are taken at local, national and global levels to address climate change, our strong humanitarian voice will be critical to foster the right level of ambition on both adaptation and mitigation, but especially also to ensure people in vulnerable situations are not left behind. We will speak out at all levels on the impacts of climate change on current and future humanitarian risk, calling for greater attention to those most at risk and more support for community-level action.

To increase our impact in all areas of our work, we will also foster and strengthen new and different types of partnerships drawing on new expertise, outreach and scientific knowledge. We will expand our legislative advocacy, strengthen the Red Cross and Red Crescent Green Response Framework, and strive to reduce our own environmental footprint.

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5 Global challenges – What do we need to prioritize this decade?

The five global challenges below represent what we believe are the most pressing existing and emerging risks that confront our network. They are presented as distinct areas but in reality, they are highly interconnected. All will necessitate significant changes in the way we work if we are to uphold our commitment to be Always There.

Climate change is one of the biggest risks and a threat multiplier, facing humanity in the coming decades. Rising climate risks already affect almost every aspect of our work, including health, shelter, livelihoods, and disaster risk reduction. Climate change also increases the uncertainties we face and will accelerate displacement in densely populated regions. At the same time, these events will be increasingly complex, compounded by poverty, disease, displacement, and conflict, and interacting with urbanization and population growth, putting increased pressure on scarce natural resources, including the demand for food and water. These intersecting issues is ramping up exposure and vulnerability. From increasing climate-related risks in cities, in regions already suffering from violent conflict, and the grave consequences for the mental health and psychosocial well-being of the individuals and communities who are affected. 

As the world adapts to rising risks and implements what needs to be a radical shift towards a low-carbon economy, our role to address and bring attention to the needs of people in vulnerable situations will be increasingly important. Adaptation and mitigation must be high on our collective agenda for human well-being and integrated into all of our work. We will need to be prepared for and anticipate events ranging from local emergencies to mega-disasters, from predictable events to unexpected disasters. More holistically, we will also dedicate more concentrated efforts to reducing human vulnerability to longer-term consequences of climate change that will threaten development, poverty reduction and water and food security. 

Our focus over the coming decade must be on reducing the current and future humanitarian impacts of climate change and to support people to thrive in the face of it.

Climate change can no longer be viewed in isolation. Climate risk management and the underlying drivers of vulnerability must be integrated into all of our programmes and operations.

We need to embrace early action models, scientific forecasts, and other innovations that can improve our response.

We also need to adopt better environmental management and nature-based solutions in our approaches to addressing exposure and vulnerability. 

As decisions are taken at local, national and global levels to address climate change, our strong humanitarian voice will be critical to foster the right level of ambition on both adaptation and mitigation, but especially also to ensure people in vulnerable situations are not left behind. We will speak out at all levels on the impacts of climate change on current and future humanitarian risk, calling for greater attention to those most at risk and more support for community-level action.

To increase our impact in all areas of our work, we will also foster and strengthen new and different types of partnerships drawing on new expertise, outreach and scientific knowledge. We will expand our legislative advocacy, strengthen the Red Cross and Red Crescent Green Response Framework, and strive to reduce our own environmental footprint.

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Shirley Blackshaw is a leader at the Costa Rican Red Cross who is orchestrating efforts to counter climate change.

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Give us your feedback

4 Comments

  1. Atta

    Climate change adaptation can very strongly be integrated as cross cutting in our humanitarian actions, but what would be our position as RCRC or work scope in the field when it comes to Climate Risk Mitigation horizons? As advocacy lobby can be done at certain level, the decision making circles are beyond our field reach if we see climate risk mitigation, it can turn out to be political thrives, which we as movement are not.

    Reply
  2. Tautala Mauala

    RCRC Independence status must be best utilized to reach out to the vulnerable communities:
    • find out their level of understanding of climate change;

    • identify impacts of climate change on them (people, livelihood, health and environment);

    • to translate in simple dialect technical and scientific climate related “terms” to enable effective adaptation methodologies to climate change;

    • build capacity of community leaders on climate change adaptation, enabling them to make better decisions towards climate change mitigation and be the voice on the decision making table of governments for effective response against climate change impacts on the communities (people, livelihood, health and environment).

    Reply
  3. Depweh Kanono

    The national society’s legislation that has the provision of government financial support in it will be a political but legally binding financial support to the society as to help strengthening the society’s capacity of delivery of humanitarian services to the vulnerable communities. Once the society receives that financial support there will be no more political influence as the society will drive that fund on its own decision through activities that will ensure our legal obligations are well delivered according to the needs of the vulnerable communities. Our Kiribati Red Cross Society Bill of 2017 that is earmarked to be passed in next November parliament session well reflects this financial support and this will allow us to meet our obligations in alignment to the Disaster Risk Management and Climate Change Act that is just recently passed by parliament in this August session.

    Reply
  4. Sue Chamberlain

    I believe our movement must do much more than just work on reducing the current and future humanitarian impacts of climate change.

    We need to play our part in reducing the causes of climate change. And we need to start NOW.

    One big carbon emitter, which causes climate change, is air travel. Our Movement does a lot of that. I believe the Movement could cut its air travel by up to 50% without reducing its effectiveness at all.

    If we truly assessed whether each flight was worthwhile, I think we would agree that about half were not.

    How many people need to go to meetings half-way around the world for one or two days? What do the meetings achieve? Could they be done in other ways – this is the 21st century – technology can help. Surely we can be creative about how we achieve things.

    Do we really need to fly ‘experts’ from far away to deliver training? With the right training and resources this work could be done by more local ‘experts’. After all, localisation is the latest buzzword. Let’s walk the talk.

    If the Movement took a look at the concept of ‘Plain Language’ much of its communication would be more easily understood. Yes, Plain Language is a concept – people can learn it and there are standards – even prizes! Plain Language is particularly relevant for the Movement because many of our members do have French, English or Spanish as their first language.

    Using Plain Language would increase our ability to share ideas and support each other long-distance rather than in person.

    Reply

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