Newsletter Issue 21

Newsletter Issue 21
20 December 2011

New Climate Centre team members

We are very pleased to welcome two new members of the Climate Centre team: Carina and Erin.

Carina Bachofen
supports the Partners for Resilience program in Nicaragua and Guatemala. Carina specializes in capacity building and training in the areas of vulnerability and adaptation. In addition to working for the Climate Centre, Carina is Global Coordinator for the Ecosystems and Livelihoods Adaptation Network (ELAN). She has worked, among others, at the World Bank social development department, including on the social dimensions of climate change. Carina can be reached at

Erin Coughlan supports Climate Centre programs to build awareness and capacity for climate risk management, and coordinates an internship program through Columbia University bringing graduate students in climate fields to IFRC offices around the world. She also is the Climate Centre liaison at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), working with the Climate Help Desk team to provide rapid responses to climate-related questions from the IFRC. She studied environment, international development, and climate science at McGill and Columbia Universities. Erin can be reached at

More information on Erin and Carina can be found on

Departure of program officer Lisette Braman

Since late 2008 Lisette worked with us supporting the Preparedness for Climate Change Program and helping to facilitate the Partnership to Save Lives between the IFRC and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI). Lisette coordinated an internship program through Columbia University bringing graduate students with climate expertise to IFRC offices around the world and was also part of the Help Desk team at IRI, providing rapid responses to climate-related questions from the IFRC. As of 1 January 2012, Lisette will work with the American Red Cross as Advisor on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction. The Climate Centre team is very sad to say goodbye to Lisette but also very grateful for her skills, enthusiasm and input these last couple of years. We are very pleased she will stay in the Red Cross family and that there will be opportunities to continue and deepen our work together, strengthening climate risk management in the international work of the American Red Cross.

Launch of the Summary for Policy Makers of the new IPCC Special Report on Extremes (SREX)

On 18 November 201, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the Summary for Policy Makers from the new report ‘Managing risks of extreme events and disasters to advance climate change adaptation’, otherwise known as the Special Report on Extremes (SREX). This report, approved by all governments in the UN, summarizes best scientific knowledge on (i) how climate change affects weather extremes, now and in the future (ii) how these extremes result in disasters (iii) how those changing risks should be managed. Maarten van Aalst, director of the Climate Centre, contributed to the SREX report as a Coordinating Lead Author to the IPCC. The full SREX report will be available in early 2012. Go here for for the IPCC document itself, background materials, presentations, and other links. The launch of the report generated a lot of media attention, and we successfully communicated our Red Cross Red Crescent perspective on the rising risks and the need to invest ahead of disasters (in hundreds of media around the world, including for instance the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, TIME magazine, Zeit, Spiegel, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, the Guardian as well as a wide range of radio and TV stations).

The Climate conference in Durban: countries continue talking while time is running out

The UNFCCC Conferences of the Parties (COP) have developed a tradition of spectacular final hours. In Copenhagen this led to a clash and disaster. In Durban it was close to one. However, and well in extra time, consensus was reached on a roadmap for further negotiations that should lead to an agreement (`protocol, legal instrument or outcome with legal force`) on further reductions of greenhouse gasses by all countries in 2015 to be implemented as of 2020. Scientists say that 2020 is the year in which greenhouse gas emissions should have their peak to be followed by a steep decrease to avoid global warming beyond 2 degrees. They also say that Durban still keeps the world on the pathway of 3,5-4 degrees…

These sobering conclusions highlight how difficult it is to reach global consensus and how urgent it is to step up our actions.

In the package deal was the commitment of the EU, Australia, Norway and New Zealand to start a second commitment period for the Kyoto protocol. However, these countries only contribute 15% of global emissions. Few days after Durban Canada announced officially to step out of the Kyoto protocol, following the US. Japan and Russia have not accepted a second period. The Green Climate Fund that was established last year to generate annually 100 billion USD by 2020 for climate actions in  developing countries was in Durban further framed in rules and regulations, but the fund was not filled. 2012 is the last year of the fast start financing commitment of the industrialised countries of 30 billion USD in 2010-2012. To make the next COP in Qatar successful, additional resources for after 2012 will have to be mobilized in the coming year. Another decision of relevance to the Red Cross Red Crescent movement and Partners for Resilience was the decision on national adaptation plans. This sets in motion the process to support developing countries with a focus on the least developed countries, to develop and implement their national adaptation strategies. It is quite a descriptive process with a heavy role for the Least Developed Countries  Expert Group (LEG) but it also explicitly invites international organisations to engage with their expertise and actions.

The Durban decision on the national adaptation plans therefore provides a helpful context in the coming years for national engagement of civil society partners in this process. National societies in developed countries can, in addition to supporting national societies in developing countries, engage with their own governments on the issue of mobilisation of the much needed resources for the implementation of the NAPs. For more information:

“Humans versus Mosquitoes”: New game on health and climate

The COP17 UN Climate Conference in Durban offered a new, seriously fun way to learn about health risks and climate change: a new participatory game developed by a team of graduate students and faculty at Yale University and Parsons The New School for Design for the RC/RC Climate Centre. In four sessions, about forty participants played “Humans versus Mosquitoes”. Dengue-carrying mosquitoes attempt to bite humans and to lay eggs to reproduce, while humans attempt to protect themselves from being bitten and to clean up mosquito breeding grounds, all while a changing climate affects their chances of success.  Importantly, the rules of this quick and intense game capture the dynamics of health risk management decisions and their consequences, and are deliberately designed to make it adaptable to other climate-related threats. Created by game designers
 Lien Tran, Clay Ewing, Mohini Freya Dutta, Ben Norskov and Eulani Labay (Parsons) with subject matter experts
 Sophia Colantonio, Kanchan Shrestha, Lauren Graham, Vanessa Lamers (Yale), the game engaged Ugandan and Argentinean parliamentarians, RC youth from Africa and the Americas, and senior IFRC colleagues, who proposed plans to scale up use of the game in schools and with RC volunteers. For more information on the game, see

Dealing with a challenging climate in the province of Nusa Tenggarra Timur, Indonesia

Affected by the dry of El Nino and the wet of La Nina, farmers in Nusa Tenggarra Timur province in Indonesia regularly face ruined harvests and food shortages. To make matters worse, the province is warming and set to experience a host of climate change impacts such as increased number of heavy rainfall events, coastal erosion, drier dry seasons and more intense tropical cyclones . Approximately 80% of people in the province depend on agriculture for their livelihoods and farmers across the islands are saying the same thing: the seasons are becoming more unpredictable, trees, fruit and birds are occurring when they shouldn’t. In attempting to address the problems faced by communities in NTT, members of the Partners for Resilience team met with government climatologists, the food security division, disaster management office and international development planning unit to collect information that may help with addressing the needs of vulnerable communities. Download here the report. For more information:

World Resources 2010- 2011 Report (source: World Resources Institute)

Recent extreme weather events—such as floods, heat waves, and droughts—present a vivid image of the direction the world is heading. Such events, combined with longer-term environmental changes will have profound impacts on people, businesses, and ecosystems. Together, these changes call for different approaches to national-level planning to address climate change. This is the topic of the new World Resources Institutes’ report, World Resources 2010-2011: Decision Making in a Changing Climate, a joint venture among UNDP, UNEP, the World Bank, and WRI. The report provides insights and recommendations about how national officials can make effective decisions amidst such complex dynamics. It examines current decision-making practices and investigates how national governments, particularly those in developing countries, can adapt to climate change. Download the full report here. The report was launched on 9 November 2011, in Washington, D.C. and featured a presentation, responses from the diplomatic community, and a risk-based game from the Climate Centre, by Pablo Suarez (

First Global Partners for Resilience Work Conference, September 2011

Together with its partners, the Climate Centre organized a first Global Work Conference for Partners for Resilience on 19-22 September 2011 in The Hague, the Netherlands. Partners for Resilience is an initiative aimed to increase the resilience of citizens against natural disasters, climate change and the deterioration of ecosystems in nine countries. During the conference all partners looked back on what was achieved so far, explored how to increase and share knowledge and how to link local experiences with global developments. Partners also looked ahead: country teams worked on plans for 2012 and discussed what the global agenda for 2012 should look like. The conference was attended by 87 participants in total, including staff from all programme countries (Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Uganda, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Indonesia, the Philippines and India), HQ staff from partner organizations, communication experts, and the International Advisory Board. Several external networks and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs were involved in parts of the programme. For more information, please contact Fleur Monasso:

6th International Conference on Community Level Adaptation (CBA6)

The sixth international conference on community based adaptation (CBA6) will be held in Hanoi, Vietnam from 15 to 22 April 2012. If anyone wishes to attend the organization is able to support financially participants from developing countries. Please download here the leaflet on the Conference. Last March, IIED and BCAS organized the Fifth International Conference on Community Based Adaptation (CBA5) In Bangladesh. Go here for the proceedings of the CBA5 conference.

Climate Change in the Pacific: Scientific Assessment and New Research

New research providing critical information about how climate change is affecting the Pacific islands and East Timor has been released by the Australian Government’s Pacific Climate Change Science Program (PCCSP). The peer-reviewed publication contained in two reports is called ‘Climate Change in the Pacific: Scientific Assessment and New Research’ and presents the most comprehensive scientific analysis to date of climate change in the Pacific region. The first report is a regional overview of Pacific climate science in general, the other a country by country summary of climate trends and projections for the future. Pacific Red Cross Societies have been involved in the past 6 months in joining national meteorological office seminars and trainings on the software linked to these reports. The software generates overviews of climate futures for their countries including Cook Islands, East Timor, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. Country specific booklets are available from national meteorological offices in the region and online. Rebecca McNaught from the Climate Centre also attended the advanced training on the software in Vanuatu and can support colleagues if they would like to utilise climate trends and projections information in their planning, risk assessments, advocacy, general communications messages and reporting. Some specific findings of the report that are of concern include:

  • Computer models indicate that numbers of tropical cyclones may remain steady or decrease over time, though when they do form, they will be more likely to be intense
  • By 2055, 1 in 20 year extreme rainfall events could occur 3-4 times per year, and by 2090 up to 7 times per year, having large implications for flooding
  • Large increases in the incidence of extremely hot days and warm nights are expected, having implications for human health
  • Ocean acidity is increasing because oceans are absorbing increased levels of carbon dioxide, this is likely to cause increasing stress to the reef systems that people rely upon around the Pacific
  • Sea level is rising and expected to continue to rise, with best estimates currently at 80cm rise this century. High sea level events are also increasing. Inundation events likely to get more severe and frequent.

The full reports are available on:

Integrating climate change into Red Cross Red Crescent programmes: from global commitments to local action

At the 30th International Conference of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement a series of commitments were made to address the humanitarian consequences of climate change, with specific regard to understanding and reducing impacts felt by the most vulnerable. The Preparedness for Climate Change Programme (PfCC), initiated by the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre and implemented in conjunction with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (International Federation), assisted a total of 64 National Societies from 2006–2011 as they took first steps toward honoring these commitments. Now, five years later, this paper recognises the hard work of these National Societies by featuring some of the many actions they have taken, while also highlighting a drastic increase in the number of climate related references made in general appeal documents – seen as demonstrating a general increase in climate change awareness across the Movement.

Collaboration with Yale students on reporting RC climate progress

Integrating climate change into Red Cross Red Crescent programmes: from global commitments to local action.

In order to measure the inclusion of climate change into regular programmes of Red Cross Red Crescent a team of volunteer researchers were engaged, including four Yale University masters students (Lauren, Kanchan, Sophia and Vanessa, see the Young Scholars page. This team, led by Yale’s Kanchan Shrestha and Climate Centre’s consultant Patty Fay, is the result of a true collaboration across timezones. The team analyzed thousands of International Federation zonal, regional and national general appeal (not emergency appeal) documents from 2003-2011 for the occurrence of the terms ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming’. This helped to take stock of how climate change has been included in Red Cross Red Crescent plans and reports across the world (see publication above) at the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Conference held in Geneva in November. One of the key findings from this work is that countries engaged in the “PfCC1” program were 140% more likely to refer to climate change in their appeals and reports. Go here for the graphs presentation or contact

Youth and Climate Change

The Pacific Monthly presents a good example of RC youth volunteers creating a rangers programme to address climate change in the Cook Islands. You will also find a summary of a case study on climate change adaptation on Pileni Island in the Solomon Islands. Download the newsletter here and the complete Pileni case study here.

ProVia kickoff workshop Stockholm 19-20 October

The Climate Centre was invited to contribute to a kickoff workshop of one of the four priority activities of Programme of Research on Climate Change Vulnerability, Impacts and Assessment (PROVIA), a new UN collaborative initiative. Priority Activity 4 – Guidelines and Assessment Tools – will Improve the robustness of Vulnerability and Impact Assessments by developing revised technical guidance on tools and research methodologies, and is coordinated by Stockholm Environment Institute, SEI. Intended users of the revised tools would be researchers, adaptation practitioners, decision-makers and policy makers. The purpose of the Priority Activity 4 kickoff workshop was to agree on structure and contents of the planned three modules of the guidance, the coherence between the three modules, and how best to involve users and meet their diverse needs. The workshop discussed the preliminary ideas circulated by the three author teams. There were discussions on possible case studies that could be included in the guidelines to support the points and arguments made, and one possible RC/RC case to include may be the West Africa 2008 EW-EA example as a practical application for the humanitarian community. The first drafts of the modules will be discussed at a workshop in London, 29-30 March 2012. For more information contact Knud at – and see

Climate Vulnerability Assessment Training, 14-16 September 2011 in Struga, Macedonia

On 14-16 September 2011, a regional climate vulnerability assessment training in Struga (Macedonia) was organized by the Macedonian Red Cross with the support of the Austrian Red Cross, WWF and the RC/RC Climate Centre. Over 40 participants, members of national civil society networks from Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, attended the training about climate vulnerability assessments. National Societies and selected civil society actors in Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Croatia have taken the lead amongst civil society organizations to join forces in advocating and raising awareness about climate change concerns in their countries. South East Europe is highly vulnerable to climate change, which will induce socioeconomic, humanitarian and environmental challenges. A cross-sectoral cooperation in the field of climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction is needed to face these challenges. This workshop enabled them to discuss which direction to go with their joint effort of writing four national climate vulnerability assessments within their CSO networks and exchange levels of expertise on different topics which would need to be addressed in the assessments. The network members present at the meeting agreed to use the assessments for awareness-raising, advocacy and communication, educational work and planning of further joint actions in the field of climate change and disaster risk reduction. The assessments shall be finished by mid-2012 and brought together on a regional level. For more information, please click here or contact Sonja Greiner of the Austrian Red Cross,

Climate Change: How to spot a dodgy study (source: IRIN)

NGOs, think-tanks and scientific organizations eager to share their insights or shed some light on what could be causing recent events have tried to keep pace with nature by releasing an incessant supply of reports and studies. Many reports are quick to link one-off events with climate change; others purport to provide regional evidence of how global warming is affecting a particular country; some try to identify which countries are most vulnerable to disasters. Trying to sift through these reports to identify which are credible and authoritative can be tough. Here are some handy tips from top experts on ‘how to spot a dodgy study’: .

Happy Holidays and a wonderful New Year!

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