‘Climate change impacts us all, but it doesn’t do so equally’

‘Climate change impacts us all, but it doesn’t do so equally’
27 June 2024

By the Climate Centre

Against a backdrop of donor funding failing to keep pace with rising humanitarian needs stemming from climate change, IFRC Under Secretary General Nena Stoiljkovic has called for humanitarian solutions to be “customized and made as local as possible”.

Speaking yesterday by video link to the 2024 ECOSOC Humanitarian Affairs Segment (17:20), Ms Stoiljkovic said “climate change impacts all of us, but it doesn’t do so equally” – an obvious example, with temperature records being regularly broken amid unprecedented heatwaves worldwide, was access to air-conditioning.

“Scientists conservatively project that annual heat-related deaths will increase fourfold by mid-century, with heat exposure expected to increase the hours of potential labour lost globally by 50 per cent.

“We must ask ourselves: are we truly prepared for such an eventuality? And as temperatures rise, who is being left behind?”

Effective mitigation and adaptation were based on local action and local solutions, she added, because climate impacts “are very different across relatively small geographies, so actions need to be rooted and connected to the communities”.

The IFRC’s Under Secretary General for Global Relations, Humanitarian Diplomacy and Digitalization was presenting an analysis of the challenges thrown up by the climate crisis to a high-level HAS panel on the impacts of climate change in humanitarian emergencies.

‘Pre-arranged financing’

The panel explored “anticipatory approaches, early warning early action systems, and disaster risk reduction and related financing,” the UN said, as well as “the current disaster landscape … including the specific challenges facing women and girls“.

There was also a focus on “the increasing intersection between climate, food insecurity, displacement and conflict”.

Turning to IFRC-originated solutions, Ms Stoiljkovic called, firstly, for the scaling up of “pre-arranged financing”, which currently accounted for only just under 3 per cent of all crisis financing. “This has to increase if we are to fund early warnings that lead to early actions at community level.”

The IFRC, she added, is “developing 75 new early action protocols to greatly increase anticipatory action across our network. Science and data have given us the tools to warn communities and act sooner, to save countless lives and livelihoods. Now the financing must follow suit …”.

Secondly, she said, while “we use insurance in our everyday lives to manage a range of risks … its use is relatively rare in the humanitarian sector,” and the IFRC was one of the few humanitarian organizations to have set up a relationship with the insurance sector, specifically to reinforce its Disaster Response Emergency Fund.

New technology

Thirdly, with the biggest gaps in climate finance arising from a lack of investment in local communities, particularly in fragile and conflict-affected countries, the IFRC was “joining up short-term and longer-term responses to build climate resilience at community level“ through its global climate resilience platform and IFRC-DREF.

Through the platform, the ambition now was to increase the 186 million Swiss francs channelled to communities in 92 climate-vulnerable countries to 1 billion CHF over the next five years in 100 countries.

Since 1998, the ECOSOC Humanitarian Affairs Segment has provided a key opportunity for states, the UN system, development actors, the private sector and other humanitarian partners “to discuss current and emerging humanitarian challenges and priority themes and share experiences and lessons learned,” the UN says.

Ms Stoiljkovic spoke at one of this year’s four high-level panels, the others covering the 75th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions, innovation and new technology in humanitarian assistance, and women and girls at the centre of prevention, response and protection.

National Societies in Europe are currently on high alert for dangerous extreme heat, with the Greek Red Cross (pictured, volunteers assisting firefighters) the most recent to have activated an early action protocol for heatwaves. IFRC Under Secretary General Nena Stoijlkovic, yesterday told a high-level UN panel that 75 EAPs are now in the pipeline worldwide, aimed at helping local communities address the expanding impacts of the climate crisis. (Photo: Hellenic Red Cross via social media)