Red Cross/ Red Crescent Climate Centre

Newsletter, issue 10

07/01/2008 - by the Climate Centre

Please find below the Climate Centre's newsletter, in which we reflect on the last busy months of 2007 and share some of our plans for 2008.

Red Cross/Red Crescent at the Climate Conference in Bali

The worldwide turn of interest to climate change that happened in 2007 found its last highlight of the year in Bali, where more than 10.000 people met for the UN Climate change conference.They were representatives of over 180 countries, observers from intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, private sector and many journalists, in particular during the ministerial meeting.  The subjects discussed were very complicated in general and the public pressure on negotiators to reach substantial goals was unprecedented. Opinions on the outcome differ but nonetheless, during the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) ’s fifteen years of existence, climate change adaptation has never received as much attention and interest as it did during this 13th Conference of the Parties (COP 13).
In Bali, the RC/RC Climate Centre and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies attended the conference with more than fifty people. Madeleen Helmer, head of the Climate Centre, was one of them. Go ‘behind the Bali scenes’ with Madeleen and find out more on the ins and outs of the conference, the role and strategy of the Red Cross delegation. Also find a brief Red Cross Red Crescent position paper  prepared for Bali.

The 30th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent

Last November, the 30th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent was held in Switzerland. This conference – held every four years – brings together all components of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement with the world's states signatory to the Geneva Conventions to consider and adopt resolutions on major, current humanitarian issues. The conference focused on the humanitarian consequences of four great challenges the world faces today which affect the individual, and specifically the most vulnerable:

  • environmental degradation and climate change;
  • humanitarian concerns generated by international migration;
  • violence, in particular in urban settings;
  • emergent and recurrent diseases and other public health challenges, such as access to health care.

Read more on the outcome of the declaration and the five main issues regarding climate change adaptation that the International Red Cross Red Crescent delegation brought to the United Nations Conference on Climate Change – COP 13 afterwards. (Also read: the IFRC reporting on the International Conference).

Preparedness for Climate Change program advances: an overview of the first steps taken

By the end of 2007, 34 national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies worldwide had joined the "Preparedness for climate change" programme, which seeks to improve national societies’ understanding of and response to the negative impacts of climate change. The program, consisting of four consecutive steps, requires all participants in the first phase to organize an internal workshop to inform staff members and volunteers on climate change risks, and discuss the consequences for the organization’s humanitarian work. Before the year ended, 23 national societies submitted their report on the workshops held.

From the reports it is evident participating national societies managed very well in putting climate change on the agenda amongst staff and volunteers – most workshops generated organization wide attendance. The gatherings were high quality and their discussions seem to have motivated and inspired many of the participants. Some national societies used the workshop to also reach out externally, to individuals and organizations they believe could be future partners in addressing climate change’s consequences. Read a more extensive evaluation of the workshop reports.

For national societies participating in the ongoing "Preparedness for climate change" programme, please note that 2008 is the final year of the programme. We hope that as many as possible of you will be completing steps 2, 3, and 4 over the coming months. Please contact us if you have any questions about the next steps to take.

Climate forum in the Pacific inspires many

Practitioners from various states and various sectors who work with communities on the Pacific Islands States to address the climate risks they face, met between November 19 and 21 in Fiji. In a spirit of cooperation, information exchange and partnership, they came together with a shared belief that a solid understanding of climate change effects and extreme weather events enables civil society to develop stronger risk reduction and adaptation programs.
Read the inspiring forum report, presenting new ideas and activities for Pacific Red Cross societies and partners.

New partner delivering climate and weather forecast information is to help the Red Cross and Red Crescent save lives

As of December 2007 the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), based at Columbia University in New York, is developing tailored forecasting and monitoring products to help the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies improve its capabilities to both respond to and prepare for disasters. The need to incorporate climate information into disaster risk reduction and decision making is urgent, evidenced by the increasing frequency, intensity and humanitarian consequences of disasters around the world.

National Red Cross and Red Crescent societies can ask assistance at the International Federation and the Climate Centre to obtain specific climate and weather related forecast information, which is derived from improved models for climate anomalies and extreme weather forecasts. This could be vital for early warning and response measures as both extremes and anomalies present particularly complicated conditions for disaster response.
Read more about the partnership agreement between the IRI and the IFRC.

A Climate Centre partnership meeting with Participating national societies to be held this January 30

The Climate Centre is organizing a partnership meeting on January 30 in Geneva, Switzerland. All Participatory national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies interested in becoming a partner in our efforts to address the impact of climate change on the most vulnerable people are invited.

The meeting aims to make a start with one of the main commitments made at the International Red  Cross and Red Crescent Conference in November: to mobilize the necessary human and financial resources to implement climate change policies, giving priority to actions for those most at risk.

Motivating regional workshop on climate change in El Salvador

In November 29-30, 2007 a very energetic regional meeting on climate change was organized in San Salvador by the Climate Centre and the IFRC Zone office. It was attended by the national societies from Argentina, Colombia,  El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Guatemala, the IFRC zone office, two IFRC Reference Centres, UNDP, OXFAM two representatives of the DIPECHO V, the University of San Salvador and delegates from the Spanish and Norwegian Red Cross in El Salvador. These Latin American national societies have already gained much experience with climate adaptation activities through the Dutch “HERE” campaign and the “Preparedness for climate change” programme. In addition to the exchange of experiences, many tangible, innovative ideas emerged for addressing climate issues; including awareness and capacity-building, community-level work, and institutional arrangements. A short video compiling the voices of Red Cross participants will soon be distributed. It was agreed that an additional meeting will be held in 2008 to work on developing new communication materials in Spanish, share more experiences and define better strategies for the way forward.

Caribbean climate meetings in February 2008

A workshop on climate change  adaptation, development and disaster risk reduction in the Caribbean will be held in Trinidad and Tobago on February 19 and 20. Convened by the ProVention Consortium and the IFRC, it will bring together 35 representatives from humanitarian organizations, governments, regional agencies, knowledge centres and media. The objective is to outline a Plan of Action for strengthening community resilience and local adaptive capacity in a changing Caribbean climate. Pablo Suarez, the Climate Centre’s technical advisor, will facilitate the workshop.

The following day there will be a regional workshop conducted in the context of the "Preparedness for climate change" programme, to be attended by six national Red Cross societies from the Caribbean region.

Addressing climate change risks: the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Guide

On 20th November 2007 the Climate Centre presented its Climate Guide at the General Assembly of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in Geneva. The guide presents five years of experiences from over thirty national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, in particular in developing countries. It relates the experiences of staff and volunteers all around the world working to understand and address the risks of climate change.

The guide starts with the basics: the scientific consensus on climate change, the humanitarian consequences and the general implications for the Red Cross and Red Crescent. Six thematic modules follow: Getting started, Dialogues, Communications, Disaster management, Community based disaster risk reduction and Health. Each module presents a background section with real life Red Cross red Crescent experiences and perspectives, plus a ‘how-to’ part with specific step-by-step guidance.

The 140-page guide is available in English; versions in French, Spanish and Arabic will be available shortly. Download the full English guide.
To contribute to the next issue of the RC/RC Climate Centre´s news letter, please send us your updates and information.