Red Cross/ Red Crescent Climate Centre

Newsletter: Issue 11

30/07/2008 - by the Climate Centre

An update of the Climate Centre's activities

Download our annual report 2007

Progress of the Preparedness for climate change programme

The "Preparedness for climate change" programme seeks to improve national societies’ understanding of and response to the negative impacts of climate change. Currently 38 national societies are participating in the programme, which consists of four flexible steps. All participants are required to analyze the climate change risks in their respective countries, see how it affects their existing work and share this with experts, (new and local) partners, colleagues and stakeholders. The last step will contain the writing of an follow up plan for the national society to integrate the climate risks in the programmes of the national society and to shape climate change preparedness activities needed to protect the most vulnerable communities of the increased risks climate change that they are facing today. Before the end of this year all national societies will have to have finalized the programme.

The Climate Centre is happy to see the results of the steps taken so far. Sixteen national societies have now submitted their draft or final background assessments and are thinking of how to disseminate core messages of the reports to a broader public of stakeholders, partners and colleagues. Regional workshops to share all the possible climate change adaptation strategies amongst experts, regional partners and National Societies have taken place in Central and South America, the Pacific and the Caribbean. Two more are being organized at the moment in South-East Asia, East Africa and an additional one in Central America.

The International Research Institute (IRI) and CATHALAC: new IFRC and Climate Centre associates

Since December 2007, the IFRC and the Climate Centre have been working with the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), based at Columbia University in New York, to develop tailored weather and climate forecasting and monitoring products to help the Red Cross Red Crescent to improve its capacity to both respond to and prepare for disasters. Examples of such information include satellite data to assess damage for disaster response or to monitor extreme events in real time, predictions for short-term storms and rainfall, seasonal forecasting, and long-term climate change trends. The Federation has enormous opportunities to use these tools for more timely and informed decision-making before, during and after disasters. Read more.

Travels with Pablo Suarez (associate director of programmes)

Pablo Suarez has been facilitating and organizing workshops, seminars and initiatives all over the world in the first half year of 2008. Some of the highlights of his travels have been the hurricane preparedness meeting in Panama, the workshop on climate change adaptation, development and disaster risk reduction in Trinidad and Tobago, the setting up of an audio-visual project in Malawi, and climate change advocacy in Uganda. Read more about his travels and the progress of National Red Cross Societies in Africa and Central America working on climate change preparedness, or view the films of the meetings he attended and the video projects he has been involved with.

The Pacific Red Cross disaster management forum, New Caledonia, 23-27 June

The agenda for this year's three-day Pacific Red Cross Disaster Management Forum focused on disaster risk reduction. There were two sessions relating to weather and climate - not only climate change and the latest science but also climate variability. Participants learned more about the El Nino and La Nina phenomena in the Pacific and how they influence cyclones, droughts and floods. A visit to the Meteo France office stimulated some great brainstorming - participants came up with creative ways the Red Cross and communities could better understand and use climate and weather information. Read more.

Red Cross Red Crescent societies begin implementing the commitments of the International Conference

At the 30th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, National Societies committed themselves to stepping up their response to climate change risks. A growing number of National Societies have begun to implement these commitments. National Societies in countries like Canada, the Netherlands and the UK have begun to include climate risk assessments in their strategic planning. In Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany and the US, for example, they include climate change risks in programme development. Dialogues with governments have been intensified in Austria, Canada, Denmark, Norway and the US. The Climate Centre was invited to Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Norway, Spain and the US to give presentations to their national societies. 

The UNFCCC negotiations for a new agreement have begun: the IFRC strengthens partnerships with other humanitarian organizations

The Bali action plan which was adopted at the UN climate change conference in December 2007 is the basis for two years of negotiations for a new UN agreement expected to be adopted at the UN conference in Copenhagen in December 2009. The Climate Centre is attending all negotiation meetings. These started with a week-long meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, in early April where the programme for the next two years was discussed and agreed upon. After the excitement of Bali, this was a very technical meeting that nevertheless provided an opportunity for conversations with negotiators from states and other observers. Read more.

Two months later, in Bonn, Germany, negotiations began for real with, in particular, the presentations of proposals regarding funding and technology transfer from a number of countries. Here 2,000 people participated, but very few with a special interest in the humanitarian agenda. Afterwards they wrote a joint article, "Why humanitarian agencies should get engaged in the UN Climate Change negotiations". Read more.

This led to an IFRC proposal to the working group of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee that it should become more engaged in these negotiations to ensure that the existing knowledge and practice of the humanitarian community is well understood and integrated. Many agencies present at this meeting on 18 June agreed and a task force, convened by the IFRC, was established.

The main first objective is to assure that the humanitarian agencies and their work is well presented at the UN conference in Poznan, where risk reduction is one of the main themes of the negotiations. The next round of the negotiations will be in Accra, Ghana, from 21-27 August.

Tuvalu: Joining forces to tackle climate change

Tuvalu is a remote Pacific island nation often associated with the rising impacts of climate change. In 2005, the Tuvalu Red Cross initiated a pilot project on climate change, in conjunction with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ Pacific delegation based in Suva, making it the first Red Cross Society in the Pacific to address the issue. Tuvalu Red Cross has  built strong partnerships with government and civil society, increased their disaster response capacity, involved island youth groups and worked with communities and schools on reducing risk. Read more on the lessons learned and planned next steps in Tuvalu. Read more on the lessons learned and planned next steps in Tuvalu.

In addition to this pilot project, the British Red Cross also set up a 'Disaster Masters' programme, which utilised the real life experiences of Tuvalu Red Cross. The Masters has been designed as a resource for young people (11-16 yrs). Download the Disaster Masters manual.The primary purpose is to introduce young people to the work of the IFRC, to explore various human aspects of disasters and emergencies and how these are affected by climate change. In schools in the UK a three and a half hour role-play took place where the participants developed first aid skills and learned about community resilience, developed team work and communication skills and thought about the local and global connections of climate change. Read more about the role-play in Tuvalu.

Climate change highlighted on World Red Cross Red Crescent Day in Guatemala, the Seychelles

On 8 May, World Red Cross Red Crescent Day, staff of the Seychelles Red Cross Society were out and about telling people about the dangers of climate change. Since "as a small National Society, we are faced with many challenges when it comes to convincing people that we are not being spared…". Read more.

In Guatemala a special march was organized when more than a thousand children from 23 elementary schools dressed up as nurses and medics in Chiquimula. The children carried balloons and texts with the work of the Red Cross. Take a look at some great photos taken by Carlo Ortega, a member of the Guatemala project team sponsored by the Netherlands Lottery (NPL - Phase II of the HERE Campaign/Netherlands Red Cross funded project). 

Argentine Red Cross raises awareness

The Argentine Red Cross joined the "Preparedness for climate change" programme in 2006 and quickly completed their background analysis on the impacts of climate change. One of the innovations of this national society was its collaboration with local authorities and design artists, who creatively approached raising both awareness and funds in the context of increasingly frequent and severe floods: a mock flooded house was constructed in a popular lake in Buenos Aires next to the modernistic planetarium to support fund-raising for flood relief. It conveyed the idea that floods are occurring in new places due to the changing climate, bringing to the heart of the capital city the experience of recent disasters occurring throughout the country.

To contribute to the next issue of the RC/RC Climate Centre’s news letter, please send us your updates and information.