Climate Risk

Climate Risk

Key considerations regarding climate change and climated-related risks

Climate Risk

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The increasingly larger and more complex challenges faced by the humanitarian system today will only be exacerbated by the current rate of climate change. The impacts of climate change cause an increase in risk and vulnerabilities to natural hazards such as storms, drought, and floods and can exacerbate the risk of conflict. In addition, a changing climate also causes greater climate variability (for example changes in seasonal temperature and rainfall) and weather-related events (for example wildfires and landslides) which can have disproportionate impact on those with high dependence on the natural environment. Not only are natural hazards becoming more intense and frequent, but rapid urbanization and population growth also mean that the amount of people at risk is steadily rising. These effects coupled with the impacts of climate change on people’s livelihoods, health and food systems considerably add to the complexity and intensity of humanitarian crises. Climate change can also erode the economic base of societies through slower changes such as desertification and interact with other risks such as increasing conflict over scarce resources. Weather-related events account for millions of displaced people every year, and most refugees originate and live in climate change hotspots. Moreover, the humanitarian impacts of climate change also have a gender dimension, and women and children (already at least five times more likely to die in a disaster) will bear the brunt.

There is increasing recognition among humanitarian actors of the importance of adaptation to climate change, and building resilience. Humanitarian response should be aware of climatic drivers of crises and where possible seek to adapt operations to climate risks. However, it is clearer than ever that climate change is one of the defining challenges of the 21st century that requires systematic changes, which necessarily include transcending the humanitarian-development divide; addressing both short-term and long-term goals adequately; developing more integrated policies and institutions to address today’s multi-dimensional nature of risk; and bringing together stakeholders across disciplines. The New Way of Working is a crucial step in the right direction that seeks to initiate such systematic changes. The humanitarian community should also move towards a global climate risk framework to be able to respond effectively to the protection needs of people that will continue to be displaced due to the impact of climate-related events.

In addition to systematic changes that take time, there are numerous opportunities to reduce climate risk and facilitate climate change adaptation, including:

Resources

Report / Study

Environment and Humanitarian Action: Increasing Effectiveness, Sustainability and Accountability

A study about the integration of environmental considerations in humanitarian action and recommended action to improve its effectiveness, accountability, and sustainability.

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Guideline

Evidence on Demand, Mainstreaming Environment and Climate Change into Humanitarian Action

This study, published by Evidence on Demand provides an overview of the key reasons that environmental and climate change issues are relevant in the context of humanitarian action.

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Policy Document

OCHA: Understanding the Climate-Conflict Nexus from a Humanitarian Perspective

This occasional policy paper aims to improve the humanitarian sector’s understanding of the nexus between climate change and violent conflict.

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Policy Document

OCHA: Climate Change and Humanitarian Action: Emerging Trends and Challenges

OCHA Occasional Policy Brief on climate change and humanitarian action…

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Case Study

UN Environment – Case Study of the Nyarugusu Refugee Camp; Tanzania

A collaborative study on the true cost of using traditional fuels in a humanitarian setting, using a case study of the Nyarugusu refugee camp in Tanzania.

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UNEP/OCHA Joint Environment Unit – IKI Project Factsheet

This factsheet provides an overview of the UNEP/OCHA Joint Environment Unit's IKI Project, an inter-agency project which aims to strengthen climate change adaptation in target humanitarian hotspots. The project supports vulnerable communities, internally displaced people, refugees and host communities that face climate-related risks. The projects involves three implementing…

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Report / Study

Evaluating Climate Vulnerability in Humanitarian Hotspots

This study, conducted in 2019, focuses on the definition of climate vulnerability with operational and political perspectives and delivers guidelines for assessing climate vulnerability in long-term crises, such as in conflict-affected countries and recurrent disaster-prone areas. The research draws on an extensive academic literature review in the fields of biology,…

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Case Study

Remote Sensing for Risk Analyses in Fragile Contexts

This study, conducted in 2020, sheds light on a variety of potentials and pitfalls of remote sensing for disaster risk analyses in fragile contexts. This topic gains importance in light of the need to formulate more systemic and better-integrated approaches to risk-informed development. Evidence-based policy recommendations encourage organizational learning and…

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Policy Document

Climate Change and Health: An Urgent New Frontier for Humanitarianism

A policy briefing provided by the international research collaboration The Lancet Countdown, offering an updated analysis of the intersection of climate change and global health. The briefing integrates the findings of the 2018 Lancet Countdown on Climate Change’s International Report with MSF’s documented on-the-ground experiences.

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Guideline

Reducing environmental impact in humanitarian response – Sphere Thematic Sheet

Sphere recently published a new resource that offers hands-on guidance to practitioners looking to consider environmental issues in their humanitarian programmes. It is the first in a series of thematic sheets that will discuss some of the core issues in humanitarian response. [caption id="attachment_2417" align="aligncenter" width="633"] Photo: Kate Holt/IRIN[/caption]…

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Tool

WHO UNFCCC – Climate and Health Country Profile Project

The WHO UNFCCC Climate and Health Country Profile Project provides country-specific estimates of current and future climate hazards. It also identifies the effects of climate change on human health and identifies mitigation and policy change actions. The data is collected via biennial surveys and was completed in 2017.

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Tool

The Environmental Vulnerability Index (EVI)

The Environmental Vulnerability Index (EVI) uses multiple smart indicators to estimate the vulnerability of the environment of a country to future shocks.

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Guideline

UNESCO: Education for Sustainable Development: Good Practices in Addressing Climate Change

A UNESCO compilation of good practices on integrating climate change in Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)…

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Communication Material

NRC website on Disaster and Climate Change

Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) website on climate change and disasters…

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Communication Material

UNHCR – Environment, Disasters and Climate Change

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) website on environment, disasters and climate change, including the 2015 report on UNHCR, the Environment & Climate Change.

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Report / Study

IFRC Climate Centre

The Climate Centre is a specialist reference centre of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

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Report / Study

WaterAid: How does WASH help build resilience to climate change?

A WaterAid briefing note explaining why improved WASH services are central to any climate change adaptation strategy…

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Guideline

Health & Environment Tools for Effective Decision-Making: The WHO-UNEP Health and Environment Linkages Initiative (HELI)

The Health and Environment Linkages Initiative (HELI) is a global effort by WHO and UN Environment to promote and facilitate action in developing countries to reduce environmental threats to human health, in support of sustainable development objectives.

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Case Study

Regional & Country Risk Profiles and GHG Emissions Fact Sheets

Climate risk profiles summarize key climate stressors and risks most relevant to a mission's objectives. Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions fact sheets provide information that may be useful in identifying climate change mitigation opportunities.

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Tool

USAID: Climate Risk Management

Resouces and guidance on USAID's Climate Risk Management (CRM) approach…

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Tool

Community-based Risk Screening Tool – Adaptation and Livelihoods (CRiSTAL)

CRiSTAL is a project-planning tool that helps users design activities that support climate adaptation at the community level.

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Report / Study

Wetlands International – Water Shocks: Wetlands and Human Migration in the Sahel

A Wetlands International report on the situation of wetlands and human migration in the Sahel.

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Case Study

Environment and Humanitarian Action Country Study – Haiti

A case study providing analysis and assessment of the extent to which environmental concerns have been mainstreamed in humanitarian action in Haiti.

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Guideline

Topic Guide – Mainstreaming Environment and Climate Change into Humanitarian Action

A Topic Guide examinining complex, multi-faceted relationship between climate change, environment and humanitarian action.

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Case Study

The Debate: Climate Change Endangers Security; Can the Military Help Humanity Respond?

This article explores the need for greater linkages and coordination between humanitarian disaster relief organisations and military organizations.

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Report / Study

UNHCR, The Environment & Climate Change Report

A UNHCR publication covering topics such as the impacts of climate change on displacement, climate change, armed conflict as well as the role and challenges of the work of UNHCR.

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Case Study

American Security Project: Environmental Dimensions of Sustainable Recovery

This article provided by the American Security Project summarizes the key outcomes of the Environmental Dimensions of Sustainable Recovery event.

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Report / Study

Environmental Law Institute: Keeping Up With Megatrends Study

This study highlights the major factors contributing to the increased vulnerability of countries and communities to environmental emergencies…

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