Think Tank (1/2023)
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RCRC-RSIS Climate Change, Environment and Humanitarian Action Workshop 2023
27 Jan 2023

The RCRC-RSIS Climate Change, Environment and Humanitarian Action Workshop 2023 to discuss climate change impacts on the humanitarian sector and environmental crises in Southeast Asia, took place on 27 January. It was hosted online by RSIS, the Singapore Red Cross Society, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Some 30 senior management participants from the humanitarian community and academia attended the workshop.

Mr Benjamin William, Secretary-General of the Singapore Red Cross Society as well as Professor Mely Caballero-Anthony, Head of the NTS Centre, delivered the opening remarks. They highlighted the main impacts of climate change on the humanitarian sector including the intensification of natural hazards as well as the disproportionate vulnerabilities of those most marginalised in society.

After the opening remarks, Dr Alistair D. B. Cook, Senior Fellow and Coordinator of the HADR Programme, moderated the plenary session on “Climate Change, Environment and Humanitarian Action”. Mr Sahari Ani, Singapore Red Cross Academy Senior Director and Dean, Red Cross Youth, was the first speaker. He briefed participants on Red Cross Singapore’s work, emphasising that climate and environment crises were also humanitarian crises. Mr Takeshi Komino, Vice-Chair of Asian Disaster Reduction & Response Network, was the second speaker who spoke on the importance of community-led projects to long-term sustainability. Through the network’s ‘Community-led Innovation Partnerships’ project, they connect communities where a priority disaster-risk has been highlighted to local innovators to encourage them to work together. The final speaker of the plenary session, Mr Madhab Uprety, Technical Adviser and Asia-Pacific focal point from the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, spoke on the highly consultative development process of the Climate and Environment Charter for Humanitarian Organisations. He expanded on its use for humanitarian workers to mitigate the impacts of climate change on those most vulnerable.

The participants then broke out into three groups. They were: ‘‘Climate Adaptation & Resilience in Disaster, Conflict & Fragile settings,’’ ‘‘Bridging Climate Change, Environment and Humanitarian Action,’’ and ‘‘Standards & Target Setting in new Climate Reality.’’ In these break-out sessions, participants discussed the roles of humanitarian actors in responding to the crisis and the utility of the Climate Charter, as well as shared knowledge based on their own field experience.

Ms Kristie Barrow, Humanitarian Affairs Officer from the United Nations Environment Programme, moderated the final plenary session where each group presented an overview of their discussions. In sum, the workshop provided a focused platform to reflect on sector-wide practices and the need to redouble efforts to integrate climate change and environmental concerns into humanitarian work.

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