Assistance for communities vulnerable to climate change must be a priority in Bali

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Tim Lehmann
Tim Lehmann

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies – the world’s largest humanitarian organization – is calling on participants gathering in Bali for the UN Climate Change Conference to ensure that support for vulnerable communities, some of which are already suffering the effects of climate change, is central in negotiations towards a new international climate change treaty.

This call comes at the end of the 30th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in Geneva, where 192 governments and 186 Red Cross and Red Crescent societies gathered to debate humanitarian challenges, including climate change.

“What we saw was a recognition from governments that vulnerable communities must be supported to adapt to climate change - to face, cope with and overcome the increasing frequency and intensity of disasters that it is bringing about,” said the secretary general of the International Federation, Markku Niskala.

“Our hope now is that this commitment is carried forward to Bali, and that adaptation to climate change is on equal footing with discussions on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.”

The International Federation believes that efforts to curtail greenhouse gas emissions are important. However, even under a best case scenario, those gases already in the atmosphere will take decades to dissipate, and during this time will continue to lead to an increase in the frequency and intensity of natural disasters.

“We know that our human and financial capacity to continually respond is already overstretched,” said Mr Niskala. “What we need is a significant commitment from governments to prioritize and fund risk reduction for communities facing these threats.

Specifically, the International Federation is calling for the following in Bali:

For a decision to be taken to prioritize climate risk reduction for the most vulnerable people, specifically the poorest people in the poorest countries.

For a target for adaptation funding, and a plan on how to mobilize and implement those resources to be included in the post 2012 regime to be agreed in Copenhagen in 2009.

For a decision to be taken on an immediate increased investment in adaptation for 2008-2012.

The Red Cross Red Crescent delegation to Bali will also remind governments of the declaration made by 186 Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies last week at the International Federation’s General Assembly:
“The International Federation … hopes that participants of the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali will work towards a fair balance between resources spent on climate change adaptation in developed and developing countries, with priority given to the most vulnerable countries and people ; as well as mechanisms to mobilize adequate and predictable resources for climate change adaptation in developing countries.”

The full statement will be distributed to all participants at the Bali Conference and is available at

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