Newsletter Issue 18

Newsletter Issue 18
22 December 2010

COP16 marked progress, but a lot needs to be done to prevent the climate catastrophe

COP16 marked progress, but a lot needs to be done to prevent the climate catastrophe
There were many differences between COP15, the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen, a year ago, and COP16 ‘the conference after’ in Cancún Mexico, held in the first two weeks of December this year. The lines of people who waited for more than 7-8 hours in the freezing cold in Copenhagen to get access (often in vain) to the Bella Conference Centre were now replaced by long lines of busses who brought the participants from their hotels to the different conference halls in this massive tourist resort.

A year ago the expectations of the Copenhagen Conference were extremely high, fuelled with the sense of urgency and the expression of the highest level of political will by the presence of almost all political leaders of the world. In Cancún, expectations were modest; presidents of small islands states still came in high numbers, but no leaders of big nations turned up this time.

Despite the huge disappointment about the failure of COP15 it was remarkable how many of the same officials and civil society representatives came back to Cancún to pick up the pieces of the last night in Copenhagen and be as dedicated as then to try to bring the UN process back into function.

Most of the people who came to Cancún were as aware as in Copenhagen about the urgency to address the climate change related risks. But most of these very dedicated people also acknowledge that without a consensus process within the UN there is definitely no chance for the world to come up with the solutions that are needed. Yet a UN consensus means to unite the needs and interests of countries as different as Tuvalu, China, Saudi Arabia and the US.

Steered by the skilful presidency of the Mexican government COP16 led to a set of decisions, the Cancún Agreement. In terms of content there was a lot of similarity with the Copenhagen Accord that a year earlier was not adopted. But in the more elaborated package that was adopted in Cancún one can find a lot more detail in the decisions and ways to operationalise the elements of the Copenhagen Accord. The Cancún Agreement therefore is the most elaborated COP decision in nine years, since COP7 in Marrakesh, 2001. The decision clearly marks progress in many areas like adaptation, technology, capacity building, forest protection and mobilization of financial resources and in fact is an ambitious work programme for the coming 1-2 years.

However, in light of what is needed to avoid catastrophic climate change in the distant but foreseeable future, the Cancún  Agreement did not come far. Though governments recognize the 4th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which states that global warming should stay well below 2 degrees Celsius, the voluntary pledges done by all countries in the last year us expected to lead to a 3.5 – 4 degree global warming, with possibly catastrophic consequences for humanity and many ecosystems.

The Red Cross/Red Crescent was present with a big delegation in Cancún. The first week, ten young Red Cross/Red Crescent representatives from all over the world attended many side events and were briefed on the negotiations. They all documented well with photos and film see here. In the second week the Presidents and Secretary Generals of eight National Societies came to Cancún. They too attended side events and the negotiations and linked up with their governmental delegations. They further discussed among themselves how to continue the strengthening of the work on climate change within the RC/ RC Movement, in particular in the coming year towards the 31st International Conference that will take place in November 2011.
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La Niña event is forecast to persist into the early months of 2011

In 2010 the Climate Centre has disseminated a total of five information updates on the ongoing La Nina event and the way it affects disaster and health risks, prepared together with the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI). These updates contain weather information in specific regions that might be affected by the negative consequences of La Nina. The latest update can be found here. Back to top

Pacific La Niña Case Study, December 6, 2010

For the central Pacific Islands the La Nina updates mentioned above included a forecast for heightened drought risk. National Societies in Kiribati and Tuvalu used that information to raise awareness in communities about conserving water, and the importance of maintaining good health and hygiene when water supplies are in short supply.  The National Societies also used the seasonal early warning information to develop their relationships with national met services and government partners. To see how, click here. Back to top

Additional months to wrap up the Preparedness for Climate Change Programme

The Climate Centre is happy to announce the extension granted by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs for its Preparedness of Climate Change (PfCC) Programme. The twenty-five National Red Cross Red Crescent (RC/RC) Societies participating in this programme are expected to wrap up before 31 March 2011. Among others, the Climate Centre expects to obtain national climate risk assessments from each country (including an implication of these risks to their programmes) and all sorts of communication materials, which can lead to awareness campaigns and DRR/ CCA related activities in the respective countries. We have already received some inspiring communication materials from Armenia, Cameroun English and French, Surinam, and Turkmenistan booklet and fan

The Chilean Red Cross Society has written an outline on what their participation in PfCC has brought them up till now. They also documented some of the results of their small scale climate change project separately funded by the PfCC Innovations Fund, in which they trained youth volunteers as youth facilitators of climate change adaptation activities in schools and after-school centers, created climate change training modules, host climate change awareness-raising discussions in schools; and finally will sponsor two climate change adaptation projects or activities lead by newly-sensitized children and youth.

To read more about the approach and set up of this programme or about the five programme components, please find the programme booklet in English, Spanish and in French. Back to top

Partners for Resilience: an innovative programme in 2011 – 2015

As announced earlier, the Netherlands Red Cross, the RC/RC Climate Centre, CARE Netherlands, Cordaid (Caritas International) and Wetlands International aim to increase the resilience of communities against natural disasters, climate change and the deterioration of ecosystems with their alliance ‘Partners for Resilience’. To this end, Partners for Resilience  submitted a grant request to the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  On 1 November 2010 the Ministry accepted this request by awarding 40 million Euros for the implementation of the proposed programme in 7-9 countries in the period  2011-2015. With this alliance  and the scale of the programme  the Partners for Resilience intend to contribute not only to the improved resilience of communities  in the 7-9 countries but also to global capacity building efforts in the area of climate risks assessments, upscaling and DRR/CCA Impact assessments. 

For this purpose, we will cooperate with local civil societies,  knowledge centres, governments and other stakeholders. We believe that the combination of capacities of three worldwide well-connected organizations like the Red Cross, Caritas, and CARE with the technical and research knowledge, extended experiences in policy dialogue and advocacy of Wetlands International and the RC/RC Climate Centre, stands for an integral and ground-breaking approach to address disaster risk reduction (DRR), climate change adaptation (CCA) and environmental care. By 1 March 2011, the Alliance will submit a final revised proposal to the donor and will then be able to present its more detailed plans in the different countries. Read more about the programme here. Back to top

Games bring ‘boring’ climate science to life (by Reuters)

Reuters has released an article about the effective use of games within the Red Cross/ Red Crescent to show how the use of climate science can help to make better humanitarian decisions. Click here to read the full article of Reuters. Back to top

A  global training package on Climate Risk Management for trainings and workshops within the Red Cross/ Red Crescent

The Canadian Red Cross will fund the development of training tools for climate risk management within the Red Cross/Red Crescent. With these training resources we aim to provide inspiration for RC/RC colleagues (DM managers, Health Officers, Desk Officers and Policy staff and volunteer groups within the IFRC) to set up their own climate related trainings for RC staff, partners, volunteers, communities, etc. The Centre receives many invitations to provide standardized trainings as many RC/RC National Societies are increasingly seeking to address climate change and integrating it in their work.  

There are three main pathways through which these training resources will be made useful to RC/RC National Societies:

  1. Online learning
  2. Two one week training courses to trial and improve the training approach
  3. Tailor-made contributions to existing meetings and trainings

It is the intention of the Climate Centre to learn what is the best approach or combination of approaches for follow up programmes.

The training resources will be made available on the Climate Centre website and prior to each training the Centre can help to tailor it to the needs of the trainers. We will address many different aspects within this training with a climate link like early warning early action, networking, partnering, programming, communication, advocacy, Vulnerability and Capacity Assessments (VCAs), etc. Each training module will contain different sets of materials that can make the trainings as interactive as possible, like exercises, games and videos and PowerPoint presentations.

We are eager to test training modules or different elements of the modules in Red Cross/ Red Crescent meetings, so please feel free to contact us if you have workshops or seminars planned where you would like to test-case any of available products in your workshop. Back to top

Red Cross/ Red Crescent helps Ethiopian farmers to help themselves – successful participatory video approach

Over the years, participatory video has been developed into a successful tool and the RC/RC Climate Centre has been using it to teach vulnerable people how to make their own films on climate change and adaptation. People at risk are being part of the solution and effectively contribute to the dissemination of their ideas on solutions. The videos can be seen on our Films by Farmers page. Read here the report made by Ida Benedetto on the training of making participatory videos in Ethiopia. Back to top

´Whatever the weather´, making climate information user-friendly in Asia Pacific for humanitarian organizations

The IFRC Asia Pacific zone covers 45 countries and experiences 79% of the world’s disaster related fatalities. Increasing climate risk threatens hard-earned development gains. A strategy for dealing with this is to better understand and pre-empt climate related hazards through systematic use of climate information available for early warning. This can occur on timescales of hours, days, weeks, months and even years ahead of time. The disaster management unit within the IFRC’s Asia Pacific zone office has been exploring the information requirements of disaster managers to enable them to stay abreast of the multitude of climate hazards that frequently impact the region such as floods, drought and typhoons. Download here the complete Case Study. Back to top

Update on ‘Health Risk Management in a Changing Climate’ – an operational research project supported by a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation on addressing the health effects of climate change. In Vietnam and Indonesia the focus is on dengue fever and in Kenya and Tanzania on health effects associated with extreme rainfall.

There is a real lack of documented experience of how to communicate on the health effects of climate change to communities which is something that this project is designed to address. Focus group discussions, in-depth interviews have been done to understand in more detail how people perceive climate change and the links to health.

As an example, health effects were cited as the climate change impact of most concern by men in a focus group discussion in Vietnam, in part as they thought it might impact people’s ability to work and generate income. Such qualitative information has been used to design a quantitative baseline survey of target communities. The results will be used to design and then test different varieties of information materials to determine how to best communicate on climate change and the links with health. The survey on dengue fever and climate change is also being translated into Spanish and we hope it can be used in other RC projects.

There is a focus on local knowledge partnerships during implementation with Ministries of Health, meteorological services and academic institutions. In Kenya, for example, this project is being implemented in partnership with the Great Lakes University with local students engaged. In Vietnam, the Red Cross is using the experience gained from the project in policy dialogue with the ministry of health in order to become a partner in the implementation of the national plan on adaptation to the health effects of climate change.

This project is generating interest from other organizations working on climate change, in particular as so little operational experience exist on integrating considerations of changing risks due to climate change in operations.  For more information contact our Health Specialist, Lina Nerlander. Back to top

Climate Change Adaptation Workshop (supported by the RC/RC Climate Centre & Humanitarian Aid department of the European Commission (ECHO)

While there is a consensus agreement that climate change already happened and it continues to happens that may result in increasing hazardous event, there is still a concern on how the Red Cross/Red Crescent movement should approach and address climate change in a practical way that can benefit and serve the most vulnerable on the ground.  On 20 – 22 October, twenty-five participants from five national societies from Lower Mekong river basin  – Lao Red Cross, Viet Nam RC, Thai RC, Cambodian RC and Myanmar RCattended the regional Climate Change adaptation workshop  in Seam Reap, Cambodia. The workshop attempted to consult and come up with a common approach and understanding on how national society should approach climate change especially through the existing structure, programs/project in particular with DRR and health. Along this line of consideration, the workshop was a joint support and venture between the Climate Centre, the South East Asia IFRC office and ECHO in order to promote closer linkage of DRR and climate change adaption.

The event was addressed the question of  what National Societies could do to address the climate change issue at the community level where they serve. The workshop conclusion session showed that it achieved the overall understanding and justification to address  climate change related risks  through existing DRR and health programmes. In addition, practical CCA interventions were also discussed in planning sessions based on the different climate case scenarios from scientific as well as community level information. While participants understood the concept and practices, they expressed that there is a need to further raise awareness with leadership to have a common understanding.  It was planned to have another workshop in late November for Island countries including the Philippine RC, Indonesian RC, and Timor Leste RC. However, due to the occurrence of emergency situations in Indonesia and the Philippines, this event is postponed to February next year. Back to top

4th Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction 25 – 28 October 2010, Incheon, Korea

The 4th Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction brought together more than 800 representatives, including approximately 200 representatives from National Governments (essentially DRM/DRR focal points but also from Ministries of Finance, Planning and Environment). The overarching theme of the conference was “Disaster Risk Reduction for Climate Change Adaptation”, with a particular focus on 1) the convergence of DRR and climate change adaptation and 2) available information technology and green technology. For more information on the outcome you can visit the links of the final Declaration and Roadmap.

The Red Cross/Red Crescent was heavily involved in several technical sessions, the organizing committee of the conference as well as the closed roadmap drafting sessions. Almost forty RC/RC delegates attended the event and RC/RC specific text ended up in the roadmap. Much of the messages the Red Cross brought to the conference are set forth in the IFRC advocacy document ‘Whatever the Weather’. For more information, contact Bec McNaught. The link to the conference website can be found here. Back to top

Danish Red Cross Regional Climate Change Training, Bangkok, 3-5 November 2010

The Danish Red Cross (DRC) and the RC/RC Climate Centre jointly conducted a regional climate change training for Danish Red Cross and IFRC delegates, and national counterparts in South Asia and South East Asia. It was the first time this type of training was held and interactive sessions, games, exercises and film sessions were designed to 1) make all participants aware of the opportunities that climate change adaptation (CCA) can bring in terms of better programming, funding and networks/partnerships; 2) strengthen capacity to support and facilitate climate change adaptation in regular RCRC programming.

The Danish Red Cross has several years of experience in organizing training events targeting delegates but this was the first training focused on climate change. The Bangkok event served as a joint opportunity for DRC and Centre to develop a tailored ‘training package’ and this experience provided lessons for further CCA training in other regions as needs and interest arise. All the interactive sessions were positively received, and the Centre believes that future trainings should consider using more diverse tools, including more (relevant) games and movie clips etc. The evaluation session revealed a need for better definitions from the outset of the different terms applied – such as climate change mitigation, adaptation, disaster management, response, preparedness, risk reduction, and development. It was concluded that the experiences and lessons learned – and the material produced and compiled – during this training event provide a firm basis for offering a training session to delegates and possible National Society counterparts as well as key regional IFRC staff in other regions. For more information, contact Knud Falk or Bec McNaught. Back to top

Successful completion of Senegal VCA Round 1

Recently, the Sahel Vulnerability and Capacity Assessments (VCAs) round 1 was completed successfully. For fifteen days Arame Tall (RC/RC Climate Centre Consultantin Africa) and her team trained a group of fifty-five RC/RC National Society representatives in participatory methods to assess  communities’ needs related to climate change adaptation. The approach is to mainstream climate change trends and outreach to local knowledge centers into many of the VCA tools that were imparted to participants, using the Climate Centre’s VCA guide (LINK). The results from these VCAs will serve as input for the next DG ECHO Single Form submission and for the Senegal River Transboundary DRR Initiative. Also, a movie will be produced shortly by the IFRC/Sahel office to showcase these VCAs. This will be put online as soon as it is finished. Go here for our VCA Guidance Document  for Practitioners and here for the IFRC/VCA toolbox for community-level. For more information, please contact Arame Tall. Back to top

New IRI Summer interns for 2011 selected

In 2011 the Climate Centre and the IFRC will make sure another round of the International Research Institute for Climate and Society  (IRI) ´Summer interns´ will assist the Red Cross/ Red Crescent in different regions to make better use of climate information for humanitarian decision making. Nine students have now been selected, in early January internship placements and projects will be defined. Back to top

Active youth of the Malawi Red Cross in Southern Africa youth conference on climate change

The Sustainable Rural Growth and Development Initiative (SRGDI) and a consortium of NGOs hosted the Southern Africa Youth Conference on Climate Change (SAYCCC) in Lilongwe in November 2010, focusing on “Building Capacity of Climate Change Interventions in Southern Africa; Adaptation, Mitigation and Advocacy”. The youth conference was attended by over three hundred youth from twenty-six countries in Eastern and Southern Africa including Malawi. In thematic areas youth came up with activities which would be carried out in their respective countries in a three year programme that would be presented to funding communities. Youth also presented on issues that were fed into a joint communiqué with COMESA, SADC and EAC towards COP16 in Cancún, Mexico. Youth were also involved in awareness, advocacy, networking and social activities. Back to top

Climate Centre Publications

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