The Perfect Storm: Humanitarian Impacts of Cli-mate Change

Promoting network and collaboration between experts from the world in humanitarian and environmental work

November 04th, 2019
Victoria Rochelois, News from Berlin
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Over the last few years, and even decades, we can observe an increase in the activities civil society uses to address the issues of climate change or climate related issues to the various governments. Consequently, an increased pressure is placed on the governments to take drastic action.

Climate change is a political, humanitarian and social challenge and threat, which can promote fear. The Hu-manitarian Congress is a yearly occurrence now organised for the fourth time in 2019 through the German section of Doctors Without Borders. The aim of the congress to increase the networking through panels, de-bates, workshops from experts of medical, health, humanitarian and international organisations, politics, aca-demia and the media, as well as young professionals and students interested in humanitarian work from around the globe.

New for this year is their partnership with Greenpeace. There is an important cooperation between humani-tarian and climate organisations, which needs to be further developed as soon as possible. Causing issues such as food scarcity, water and sanitation, disease, and increased instability forcing people out of their homes, climate change is affecting marginalised populations in developing countries most severely, to the point where some populations are not able to adapt, which increases conflict, and the need for aid.

A panel entitled “Climate justice and humanitarian action- counter terrorism laws and criminalisation of hu-manitarian action” discussed how counter terrorism laws impact the engagement with all areas of political governments, restricting the aid NGOs can provide. Counter terrorism measures jeopardise the idea of inde-pendent, neutral human aid. Individuals who are named on the list of terrorists do not have the same rights, and therefore NGO´s have to put themselves under high risk in order to be able to give these populations the same support. There is an issue of the validity of designated terrorist groups.

There is never no risk in the field work pursued by humanitarian organisations, however risks of safety, access, cross border activities and imprisonment increase due to how different governments in various areas have the freedom to define “terrorism” in their own way. Consequently, individuals who would be considered activists, are defined as “terrorists” under the law of their government and for instance, the aid provided by NGOs would be considered as material helping terrorism.

Cultural diplomacy has long been recognised as a prime instrument to promote intercultural links between countries, communities and peoples. Governments in various areas have different rules, perspectives, under-standings of such “activism” activities, leading to harsh consequences and a set back in the possibility of hu-manitarian action in certain areas where the effects of climate change are real, and are having a strong im-pact on the population. However, through constant and ongoing dialogue and exchange, inter- and intra- cul-tural relations can be strengthened and maintained. These, in turn, lead to a better understanding and great-er trust between nations and communities, prevent misunderstanding, improve communication and coopera-tion and help to reduce the likelihood of socio-cultural conflicts and disputes. Consequently, increased measures and the implementation of cultural diplomacy could improve the possibilities for humanitarian aid across countries.


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