The climate crisis demands a transformational change of human systems and the humanitarian sector is not exempt. Humanitarian leaders need to set the strategic vision, provide technical assistance, and dedicate resources so they are better equipped to deliver quality services.
Recent projections indicate that under a business-as-usual scenario of sustained greenhouse gas emissions, climate change could double the demand for humanitarian assistance by 2050 (World Health Organization). Humanitarian assistance is currently not meeting the existing needs, and any additional burden will be highly challenging.
The scale of humanitarian needs anticipated under all climate change scenarios will require unprecedented collaboration within the humanitarian community and beyond, but there is a demand for tools and guidelines that can be used across the sector to move this action forward.
This research brings together authors from previously separate fields – climate change health and humanitarian assistance – to start addressing this challenge in a practical and useful way for humanitarian organisations to increase their capacity to protect health in an unstable climate.
This paper aims to act as the catalyst to increase capacity for protecting health in an unstable climate. We’ve adapted the WHO operational framework for climate-resilient health systems for humanitarian organisations and present concrete case studies to demonstrate how the framework can be implemented.
Rather than a re-design of humanitarian operations, we recommend the application of a climate-lens to humanitarian activities – mainstreaming climate and health concerns into policies and programs.
By implementing this framework, humanitarian health organisations may be better equipped to anticipate, prevent, prepare for, and manage climate-related health risks.