Amid increasing concerns over the unpredictability of extreme weather events, continued environmental degradation and the increased need to respond to other hazards like nuclear emergencies, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and Green Cross International (GCI) have signed a memorandum of understanding to extend their collaboration in reducing the risks of environmental-related hazards facing vulnerable communities around the world.
Both parties underlined the importance of addressing climate and environmental risks in strengthening the resilience of communities in the face of natural and man-made disasters.
“Humanitarian issues cannot be tackled in isolation, nor without the consideration for the long term impact on the environment. Disasters impact the environment in ways that can threaten human life, health, livelihoods and security. Failure to recognize and address these risks can undermine the relief process, causing additional loss of life, displacement, and increased vulnerability,” said Mr Geleta.
The agreement sets out the parties’ intention to strengthen cooperation in three main areas: climate change adaptation and mitigation including the promotion of environmental values and practices, adequate access to water and sanitation, as well as nuclear and radiological emergency preparedness.
“With growing population and infrastructures the world’s exposure to natural hazards is inevitably increasing. This is particularly true as the strongest population growth is located in coastal areas with greater exposure to floods, cyclones and tidal waves. However, our resilience has not matched disasters increased frequency and severity. Neither have we come to grips with the environmental impacts of disasters, be they natural or man-made. In particular, I deplore the lack of action in addressing their impact on ecosystems. This fallout may be less visible and less immediate. But the environmental, social and economic consequences are no less significant. Opportunities and sound solutions exist all around us today – in government, business and civil society – and we should aim to work together to leverage on these opportunities,” said Dr Likhotal.
“The IFRC’s 189 member National Societies work closely with many of the world’s most vulnerable communities,” said Dr Likhotal. “The GCI-IFRC partnership will play a vital role to continue empowering these communities to prepare for and respond to environmental-related risks and disasters.”
According to Mr Bekele Geleta, the partnership will pave the way for the Red Cross and Red Crescent to provide improved services to vulnerable communities everywhere. National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and their extensive network of volunteers are uniquely positioned to help communities anticipate, plan for and respond to disasters and reduce risks. The IFRC and GCI are committed to enhancing public awareness and education around environmental values and practice with a particular focus on youth as agents for value change.
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