The Secretary-General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Bekele Geleta, recently used his address to the annual COP17 Climate Change Conference in Durban.
The Secretary-General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Bekele Geleta, recently used his address to the annual COP17 Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, to highlight the humanitarian challenges that climate change presents. He said the IFRC was deeply concerned about the consequences, especially the impacts of extreme and unpredictable weather on vulnerable people. “Our volunteers living in their communities experience daily suffering and are adapting, coping and responding,” he said.
“We know that it is effective to invest ahead of time, and we welcome the fact that the Cancun agreements have made disaster risk reduction an integral part of adaptation.”
He said that national Red Cross Red Crescent societies, working as auxiliaries to governments, were already mobilizing the means and will to effect change, not just within the Movement, but also among the general public. But, he said, more can and should be done to deliver on the Copenhagen and Cancun commitments to increase financing for adequate adaptation. “We call for prioritized action towards the most vulnerable people and towards the most effective measures to reduce their risk. This must include investments into local capacity and soft, local solutions such as early warning systems and public awareness and education.”
Geleta said that the Movement’s global perspective gave it an understanding of the actions needed to prepare for the impact of climate change but, more importantly, National Societies were dealing with the effects right now. “Changing minds, attitudes and ways of life is only possible through reaching across established divides in the spirit of humanitarian principles and values – most of all fairness and dignity,” he said. “Global negotiations take time, but the sum total of small actions taken by people here, there, and everywhere can make a difference to the way we live and how we relate to the planet we share.”
“The almost one billion people going to bed hungry each night and others vulnerable to climate change do not need more words but action. We must demonstrate leadership and do them justice.”
Since 1995, representatives of governments and other involved in the response to climate change have met annually to discuss and assess the progress made in dealing with the issue.