ECOSOC Humanitarian Affairs Segment Highlights Synergies between Climate Change and Humanitarian Communities


July 2008: The UN Economic and Social Council's (ECOSOC) Humanitarian Affairs

Segment opened on 15 July 2008, and organized its discussions around the theme

“Building capabilities and capacities at all levels for timely humanitarian

assistance, including disaster risk reduction.” Council Vice-President and Segment President Park

In-Kook (Republic of Korea) opened discussions by noting that this year's

Segment provided the international humanitarian community with an opportunity

to reflect on how to respond to the food crisis and the humanitarian

implications of disasters.

John Holmes,

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief

Coordinator, introduced two reports from the UN Secretary-General on

“Strengthening of the coordination of emergency assistance of the United

Nations” (document

A/63/81-E/2008/71) and “Strengthening

emergency relief, rehabilitation, reconstruction, recovery and prevention in

the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster” (document A/63/84-E/2008/80). He noted that many of the world's

current conflicts and the ensuing humanitarian crises were being exacerbated by

heightened environmental pressures and rising food costs. He listed humanitarian

challenges arising from climate change, including increased frequency of

disasters, rising temperatures and their health impacts, and the growing threat

of conflict. He called for promoting synergies between the humanitarian and

climate change communities. During the general debate, Antigua and

Barbuda, speaking on behalf of the G-77/China, supported calls for additional

studies on the implications of climate change and the global food crisis.

France, speaking on behalf of the EU and associated States, indicated the EU's

support to pre-positioning relief items and community-based preparedness activities to

help tackle the humanitarian implications of climate change, and called for the

implementation of the Declaration on World Food Security adopted in June 2008

in Rome, Italy. Ethiopia, on

behalf of the African Group, underscored that climate change had contributed to

the food and energy crises which, in turn, had led to aggravated global food

insecurity. Other speakers who touched upon climate change issues included

representatives from: Australia, Bangladesh, China, Colombia, Indonesia,

Japan, Malaysia, Norway, Philippines, the US, the World Health Organization

and the International Organization for Migration. On 16 July, the ECOSOC

Humanitarian Affairs Segment convened a discussion panel on “Disaster risk

reduction and preparedness: addressing the humanitarian consequences of natural

disasters, including the impact of climate change.” [UN

press release, 15 July