Red Cross/ Red Crescent Climate Centre

Summary of seminar on Water, Environment and Sustainable Human Development, Barcelona June 2010

15/07/2010 - by Spanish Red Cross

On 29 and 30 June 2010, Madeleen Helmer contributed to the international seminar “Water, Environment and Sustainable Human Development in the Mediterranean”, organised by the CCM and the Spanish Red Cross in Catalonia in collaboration with the Spanish Ministry of Environment, the City Council of Barcelona, the MENA Zone of the IFRC, the Regional Activity Centre for Cleaner Production, the Department of Environment of the Spanish Red Cross and the “la Caixa” Foundation. The seminar took place in Barcelona in the conference hall of the Caixa Forum. The objective was to create spaces for reflection and debate about the water crisis and possible alternatives based on different visions and areas of responsibility. The expected outcome was to offer a detailed analysis on the humanitarian impact of climate change, water shortage and environmental degradation in the Mediterranean region on topics such as health or food safety and provide at the same time good practices on local level.

Around 140 people participated, from 15 National Societies of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent in the Mediterranean and other organisations. Different experts from MENA and Europe Zones of the International Federation, the RC/RC Climate Centre, the European Commission, the Government of Catalonia –Department of Environment and Health-, the City Council of Barcelona, UNEP, UICN-Med, WWF Mediterranean Programme, Unescocat, Spanish Red Cross, National Centre for Environmental Education, CEDIH, Spanish Red Cross Youth, Moroccan Red Crescent, Italian Red Cross and the private sector, have intervened in the five sessions of the seminar: Strategies and policies; Water, Habitat and health, Global change and climate change; Environmental education and sustainable consumption, and Water and vulnerability.

The sessions and debates highlighted that water scarcity, environmental degradation and climate change are interconnected and that they depend on the model of development carried out by human beings. This reality is especially relevant in the Mediterranean area, where high environmental risks exist, evident economic and social inequalities persist, and where the projections of climate change show a region dramatically suffering from an environmental, social and economic point of view. There are two main work areas in which actions can be developed based on the Spanish RC network of volunteers in the community.

1. Awareness raising of the population in general, not only of the most vulnerable groups, but of the collectivity, as we are all vulnerable from the effects of climate change, in order to raise a better preparation in the situation of natural catastrophes.

2. Environmental education, above all of the youngest, in order to promote changes in the behaviour which help for a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle. Moreover, it was shown Water is a fundamental right and a basic tool for a sustainable development in the Mediterranean. And it was highlighted that we need a Mediterranean strategy for water and sustainable development which frames the action that can be carried out as much by the Red Cross as by other public and private institutions.


Madeleen Helmer at Barcelona June Seminar