Red Cross/ Red Crescent Climate Centre

What is climate-smart programming?

To address increasing risks from climate change in our work, the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement (‘the Movement’) invests in climate-smart programming, including the fostering of dialogue on policy, strengthening the capacity of National Societies, and raising awareness.

There is no universally accepted definition of climate-smart programming. Climate-smart programming equates simply to good development, enabling people to anticipate, absorb and adapt to climate shocks and stresses by using climate information across timescales, considering landscapes and ecosystems as key areas of intervention – all in close collaboration with governments, specialists and the private sector.

Most of what the Red Cross Red Crescent does can be affected by climate variability and change – in terms of climate-related events like storms, floods and droughts but also conflict.

The likely increase in the scale and predictability of risk in the next few years is of huge concern. Projects and planning in the Movement can no longer be based just on past experience; we must adjust to the new context of heightened uncertainties, growing vulnerabilities, scarce resources, and long-term change in general.

For the humanitarian and development sectors, climate-smart programming centres on the integration of the impacts of climate variability and change so it includes not only past and present risks but also changing and future ones (see Table 1). 

Climate smart

Projects incorporate climate and weather information in assessing risk and vulnerability, enable early warning early action, and sustainably address climate risks and trends (see the 2013 Minimum Standards).

Climate aware

Projects have not considered changing climate risks nor made use of climate and weather information.

Climate not considered

Projects have not considered changing climate risks nor made use of climate and weather information.

Table 1. Levels of integration in projects on climate change.

The Movement also, of course, aims to do its bit in reducing carbon emissions, greening our organization, reducing our CO2 footprint and playing our part in limiting the long-term impacts of climate change on vulnerable people and the planet. Climate mitigation is an obligation on us all.

Download the full pdf here, which elaborates further on preparatory steps, planning & implementation and complementary actions to strengthen the enabling environment for climate-smart programming, which involves engagement on policy with – and advocacy to – a wide variety of actors, including local and national government.