The climate emergency is a humanitarian crisis, say aid experts
Aid workers warn that we are currently unprepared for the crises both caused and made worse by the climate emergency, and every year, the lives and livelihoods of millions of people are being destroyed by disasters, with 1 in 33 people in the world expected to need aid in 2021.
Now, a new report from The University of Manchester’s Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute, UK-Med and Save the Children UK - with funding from the UK Disasters Emergency Committee - is calling for the climate emergency to be treated as a humanitarian crisis.
It says that urgent changes need to be made by the aid system to deal with the escalating catastrophe, as well as drawing hope from good practice around the world and suggesting some key recommendations.
As the climate crisis worsens, increasing numbers of people will be left without healthcare, shelter, and food. The report addresses key issues facing the sector, including understanding the scale of the challenge, identifying different threats and recognising best practices that need to be replicated and scaled up.
The report could not come at a more urgent time - the UN’s COP26 Climate Change Conference COP26 is being held in the UK for the first time in November, and this presents a once-in-a-generation chance to shift the dial and ensure the humanitarian sector and communities at risk are prepared and able to meet this threat.
"Climate change is happening now - it will undoubtedly impact many aspects of life, and will hit vulnerable people the hardest,” said David Wightwick, CEO of UK-Med. “The next decade will be crucial - we need to adapt quickly to the increase in extreme weather, disasters and humanitarian crises, so that we can protect as many people and families as possible.”
“The humanitarian sector simply cannot wait until it's too late. We're proud as Manchester organisations to be taking the reins and calling on policy makers, humanitarian organisations and donors to listen to the report and make the changes we need, now."
Given how daunting this issue is, we wanted to focus on what is possible - we included examples of successful practices from around the world that can be scaled up, like direct cash transfers to community members in advance of extreme weather events to allow people to prepare.
“We also wanted to make our seven recommendations to be as accessible as possible, so we worked with an artist to create a graphic novella that appeals to everyone from teenagers to senior citizens, as well as policy makers," she added.
The study was conducted with community members, aid workers, academics and organisations from all across the world. The findings and recommendations, along with an interactive digital story, can be accessed at www.soundingthesiren.com.