A drip irrigation system, donated to a widow through an ICRC livelihood support project, enabled her to plant tomatoes and thus support her family. Photo: Pawel KRZYSIEK/ICRC

Facing the impact of climate change and armed conflict in the Near and Middle East

A new ICRC/Norwegian Red Cross policy brief "Making Adaptation Work" presents how the humanitarian consequences of environmental degradation and climate change are aggravated by armed conflict in the Near and Middle East, and which adaptation approaches are emerging to face the compounding impact using examples from Iraq, Syria and Yemen.
Report 13 April 2023 Iraq Syria Yemen

Making Adaptation Work

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This brief aims to:

  1. enable humanitarian actors to better understand the main risks faced by communities in the region and better respond to their needs;
  3. identify opportunities and barriers in strengthening community resilience to climate and environmental risks in areas affected by armed conflict or by the legacy of conflict;
  5. call for an urgent joint action by humanitarian, development, climate, environmental and state actors to help people affected by armed conflict and violence deal with the impact of climate change and environmental degradation in the short, medium and long term.

The report, which includes the full text of the policy brief, is available in the link below.

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The report is jointly produced by the ICRC/Norwegian Red Cross, with the support of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre.

What you need to know

  • The compounded impacts of climate change, environmental degradation and protracted armed conflict are exacerbating the pattern of humanitarian needs across the Near and Middle East. They influence the security, livelihoods, health and mobility of people living in the region.
  • Humanitarian, development, climate, environmental and state actors need to work together to strengthen the resilience of people affected by armed conflict and violence.

How can this be done?

  • Countries and communities affected by armed conflict need to have easier access to financing for climate adaptation. Policymakers in states, multilateral financial institutions and climate funds are advised to change their approach to risk, support diversified action, improve coordination across the international aid structure, and address silos that hinder action.
  • Alongside adaptation in food and water systems, there is an acute need to invest in health system resilience in conflict-affected countries, so that they can respond to the combined impact of environmental degradation, climate and conflict on lives and health. Health systems should be better equipped to deal with the increased health burden, by enhancing their preparedness to respond to physical diseases, as well as mental health and malnutrition.
  • Displaced people and people at risk of displacement should receive both humanitarian and adaptation support. The needs of those facing repeated or protracted displacement should be prioritized. Mobility can be an important adaptation approach, taking into account the priorities and concerns of people on the move.
  • Adaptation efforts led by local communities should be supported by enabling devolved decision-making, addressing structural inequalities and investing in local capabilities and flexible programming. Accountability towards the people humanitarian organizations seek to assist is a critical component of humanitarian engagement within adaptation and resilience-building processes.
  • Humanitarian, development, climate, environmental and state actors need to collaborate, to harness their complementary nature to strengthen the capacity of people and communities to adapt to the combined impacts of climate change, environmental degradation and armed conflict. This includes, strengthening environmental and climate information services and better sharing of evidence on successful adaptation approaches.

Who is this report for?

Humanitarian, development, environmental actors (policymakers, donor, organizations) may find this report best suited to their concerns. We hope it will help us promote further interest and intersectoral engagement in sustainable and lasting climate action.