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Climate change adaptation: integrating climate science into humanitarian work

30-09-2010 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 879, by Lisette M. Braman, Pablo Suarez and Maarten K. Van Aalst

A changing climate means more work for humanitarian organizations. In the face of rising dangers, science-based information about likely threats can be used to reduce risk and improve resource allocation. By doing so, humanitarian organizations can enhance their work even in the face of the rising risks of climate change.

Abstract

A changing climate means more work for humanitarian organizations. Vulnerable people served by the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement are likely to experience new patterns of disasters. In the face of these rising dangers, science-based information about likely threats can be used to reduce risk and improve resource allocation. Examples such as the 2008 emergency appeal for flood preparedness in West Africa illustrate the benefits of turning early warnings into early actions at community, national, and regional levels, at timescales ranging from hours to decades ahead of a looming threat. By making better use of a wide range of new information, humanitarian organizations can enhance their work even in the face of the rising risks of climate change.

Biography

Lisette Braman is Program Officer at the Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre and Staff Associate at the International Research Institute for Climate and
Society at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. 

Pablo Suarez is Associate Director of Programs for the Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre and a Visiting Fellow at Boston University. His current work
addresses institutional integration across disciplines and geographic scales for disaster management.

Maarten van Aalst is Associate Director and Lead Climate Specialist for the Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre and adjunct Research Scientist at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society at Columbia University’s Earth Institute.He also acts as an independent advisor for numerous development organizations and is Coordinating Lead Author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).


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