The Movement engaging in Policy and Action

Introduction to Climate Policy 

Why does this matter to the Movement? 

Human-induced climate change is a threat to human health and wellbeing. It increases humanitarian intervention worldwide as more frequent and more severe extreme-weather disasters are and will take place. This increase vulnerability of communities that National Societies, IFRC and ICRC are aiming to support. 

Throughout the Movement, climate change is a priority – leaving no one behind. 

The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is uniquely placed to address the consequences of the climate crisis. National RCRC Societies are present in communities before, during and after emergencies, accustomed to identifying local solutions to local needs and supporting community mobilization.  

As auxiliaries to public authorities, National Societies are in a unique position to support their government counterparts in taking necessary climate action. Disaster and climate risk reduction has been one of the Movement key focus areas over the past three decades, and is today one of the biggest disaster risk reduction actors in the world.  

Some of the most vulnerable communities to climate change are in fragile state and conflict contexts where National Societies and ICRC are operating. The Movement is committed to strengthening its sustainable humanitarian impact through further integrating climate risk into its analysis and better supporting the resilience of people and systems to climate-related hazards.  

The Movement is also committed to reduce the carbon footprint of its activities. 

Today is critical to increase ambition from all stakeholders to tackle the climate crisis. 

What is Loss and Damage and why do we need to engage? 

“Human-induced climate change, including more frequent and intense extreme events, has caused widespread adverse impacts and related losses and damages to nature and people, beyond natural climate variability. Some development and adaptation efforts have reduced vulnerability. Across sectors and regions the most vulnerable people and systems are observed to be disproportionately affected. The rise in weather and climate extremes has led to some irreversible impacts as natural and human systems are pushed beyond their ability to adapt.” (IPCC AR6 WGII, 2022)  

The underlying premise of loss and damage is that even if adaptation, disaster risk reduction, and resilience building efforts would be properly resourced and implemented – and they very often are not – there can still be residual effects from observed impacts and projected risks; these are referred to as losses and damages. 

Losses can include irreversible impacts caused by climate change (such as loss of lives or loss of biodiversity), while damages can refer to impacts such as the destruction of infrastructure where repair is possible. 

Losses and damages can be caused by rapid onset events (e.g. floods, landslides) or slow onset processes (e.g. desertification, sea level rise), see figure 1 above. How to ‘avert, minimize and address’ Loss and Damage is now a hotly debated topic in the global climate negotiations.   

As the climate crisis continues, observed and predicted losses and damages are set to worsen, disproportionally affecting the most vulnerable people and fragile contexts, it becomes even more important to understand this programmatic work of National Societies as well as to discussions related to humanitarian climate diplomacy. 

In these contexts, Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies have generated relevant, valuable experience and expertise to offer, including on how to minimize, avert and address losses and damages in a way that is respectful of local realities and aligned with local capacities.    

The Movement offers insights on how to adapt (including reducing disaster risk); how to confront limits to adaptation (such as planned relocation); and how to respond in new, transformational ways that maintain a  focus on meeting the needs of the most vulnerable.