European Conference: Time to act differently

Publié: 2 juin 2014 16:13 CET

Europe is changing – and National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Europe need to adapt to these changes. While other continents are reducing the percentage of people living in poverty, trends in Europe are opposite. More people are falling below the poverty line, the gap between rich and poor is growing, savings and salaries are being eroded, and more and more ‘working poor’ are turning to aid agencies for assistance to make ends meet.

As a result, some National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have already undergone a drastic change in their domestic activities, expanding and adjusting their programmes to meet growing needs and to reach new groups of vulnerable people; others have realised the need to adapt but have not yet been able to mobilize the resources required to respond to the changing needs.

How to adapt and to respond to the growing and new needs are some of the major subjects more than 220 representatives from 53 National Societies in Europe and Central Asia will discuss when they meet in Florence, Italy from June 4-6 for the the 9th European Red Cross and Red Crescent Conference. The representatives will explore what actions need to be taken to stay relevant and responsive, and how – through innovation and cooperation between authorities, donors and organisations – resilience can be strengthened in communities and families. During the conference, focus will be on subjects such as migration, food security, volunteering and the future of humanitarian aid.

“We now live in a Europe where large segments of the younger generation cannot be sure of employment, where ‘employment’ might mean casual jobs without social security or pensions, and where people with jobs might not earn enough to provide for themselves or a family,” says Francesco Rocca, Vice-President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and President of the Italian Red Cross, which is hosting the conference.

“Our report on the humanitarian impact of the economic crisis launched in October last year documented that we need to think differently, accepting that the effects of the crisis will be felt for decades even if there is an economic upturn. But now the time has come to act differently, to find new ways, approaches, partnerships and solutions to meet the increasing domestic needs. It is at the same time an opportunity for Red Cross Red Crescent to discuss our role and activities.”

Florence is famous for its beauty and tourist attractions. However, it is a city which like many other places in Italy and Europe has been affected by the economic crisis. One of the five people interviewed in the “In a Better World” video lives here.