Adapting to climate change and addressing catastrophes

The Red Cross Red Crescent has been actively involved in the humanitarian consequences of climate change for more than a decade and particularly in recent years young people have been playing an ever growing role in responding to these challenges.

In 2009, Youth on the move had climate change as one of its key themes, offering hundreds of young people the chance to be trained by experts in climate change, and to pose questions and challenges to them. Following this training opportunity, already there is evidence of a further increase in youth involvement in climate change activities in some National Societies.

Strategy 2020 reaffirms our commitment to responding to climate change and its human impact. One of the expected impacts of strategic aim 2 of Strategy 2020 is greater public adoption of environmentally sustainable living. Strategy 2020 also reconfirms the IFRC’s commitment to communities, and volunteering through taking action to build strong National Red cross and Red Crescent Societies. Part of the expected impact is a stronger culture of voluntary service, and greater youth leadership and participation in National Society and community affairs. 

Youth action today

  • Syria: In March 2010, almost 400 Red Crescent volunteers organized a community tree planting project in two previously deserted areas in the north-east of the country.
  • Australia: Young people have developed a climate change framework that has lead to a national climate change strategy and policy being developed.
  • The Solomon Islands: A national youth forum has been held as part of the societies climate change programme, offering training and debate opportunities.

Climate science - the perspective of youth

In 2009, ten masters students from the International Research Institute for Climate and Society of Columbia University went to the developing world to support the work of the Red Cross / Red Crescent Climate Centre by linking climate science to humanitarian work. In this video you will hear their insigh ts on how to link climate information with humanitarian decisions in Africa, the Americas and Asia & Pacific.

This programme gave these students the opportunity to examine the way that the volunteers and staff of National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies make use of the most updated information available on climate change. Among the challenges that they identified are the lack of understanding on how to make use of some tools, a lack of inter-disiplinary workers and local capacity.

On the positive side, there is a high of interest from the National Societies studied in taking part in climate change related activities.

The key lesson from their experiences: Focus on people and empowering them.

Countries included in this project:
Bangladesh ¦ Cook Islands ¦ Costa Rica ¦ El Salvador ¦ Ethiopia ¦ Fiji¦ India ¦ Kenya ¦ Niger ¦ Panama ¦ The Philippines ¦ Senegal ¦ South Africa ¦ Thailand ¦ Togo ¦ Uganda

Need resources?

If you need more resources, you can some in the following places:

Solferino Youth Declaration

We the youth of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement commit ourselves to:

  1. Involve ourselves in disaster preparedness, response and recovery, including innovative solutions such as psychosocial support;
  2. Live up to our commitments on climate change and make little moves every day, using youth peer education to change communities;
  3. Advocate strongly on climate change adaptation, including the protection of climate migrants;
  4. "Safe food for safe life", by advocating on food security; and
  5. Advocate for access to clean and safe water, and contribute to sustainable solutions.

We call on our National Societies to:

  1. Follow through on existing commitments on climate change.

We call on the governments of the world and on the international community to:

  1. Create active and dynamic partnerships at all levels, to address climate change migration and adaptation.
  2. Preparing for and responding to the emerging humanitarian effects of climate change, such as the protection of climate migrants; and
  3. Renew your commitment to finding sustainable water security for all.