This article was originally published on UNICEF channels.
At the COP 28 in Dubai, UNICEF-led/co-led clusters and area of responsibility hosted a side event Fragility and Climate: Joined-up Action for Collective Outcomes. This interactive session, moderated by Jose Gesti, Senior WASH Adviser from Sanitation and Water for All, showcased contributions from a diverse group of high-level speakers from the UNHCR, IFRC, IOM, Education Cannot Wait, UNICEF and the youth, spanning the humanitarian, development and peace sectors.
The session demonstrated how joined-up action and collective outcomes can more efficiently respond to the increasing needs of those most affected by and vulnerable to crises in fragile and climate affected contexts.
All high-level speakers stressed the importance of focusing on people and community engagement for effective and accountable climate-sensitive humanitarian, development and peace interventions is key:
UNHCR’s Andrew Harper outlined how climate change is amplifying the frequency and intensity of sudden-onset disasters, and contributing to fragility and conflict, and stressed how more people will be at risk of displacement unless urgent action is taken. Those vulnerabilities in many cases lead to conflict and competition over resources, which forces people to displace. And unfortunately, in some situations that is resulting in insecurity and instability. Countries that are already fragile may be at further increased risk of this due to the effects of the changing climate. He stressed how UNHCR works diligently to address risks and vulnerabilities related to fragility, climate, and displacement.
IFRC’s Petra Khoury shared insights on how climate change is impacting health in a myriad of ways, including by leading to morbidity and mortality due to increasing and frequent extreme weather events, such as heatwaves, storms and floods, which disrupt food systems, increase zoonoses and food-, water- and vector-borne diseases, and aggravate mental health issues. She specifically upon the leadership that IFRC has shown in responding and preventing cholera outbreaks globally.
“In the public health emergency space, collective action aimed at collective outcomes represents the most effective framework to optimize partnerships to reduce needs and risks in order to achieve long-term and sustainable results for public health in both humanitarian and development contexts, as well as to achieve durable peace and stability.”
IOM’s Rania Sharshr underscored how Coordination plays a central role to achieve collective outcomes and maximize efficient use of resources. She emphasized the critical role that coordination plays to deliver joint context and risk analysis, complementary planning and programming, and also advocated for a recalibration of financing modalities. While noting the added value of humanitarian action to reach life-saving outcomes, she stressed that the business-as-usual approach is not delivering the results needed and requires a “new way of working”, of which IOM is leading the way to address this across their humanitarian, development and peace agenda.
“Education – and specifically Education in Emergencies and Protracted Crises - needs to be prioritized otherwise we will fail to achieve SDG4, and we will fail to equip young people with the skills they need to tackle the climate crisis.” - Yasmine Sherif, Education Cannot Wait
Yasmine Sherif from Education Cannot Wait provided valuable reflections on how the climate crisis is an education crisis, which impacts the education of children and adolescents Right Here, Right Now. She raised examples of how ECW are working with a wide range of partners through their multi-stakeholder platform to address the needs of the most vulnerable children, and their communities within the backdrop of fragility and the climate crisis. “Education – and specifically Education in Emergencies and Protracted Crises - needs to be prioritized otherwise we will fail to achieve SDG4, and we will fail to equip young people with the skills they need to tackle the climate crisis.”
Not least, UNICEF’s Youth Advocates Ania and Vlad brought in the perspective of young people who are both proactively engaged with the climate crisis and advocacy for putting youth at the center and involving them in both climate change-related dialogue and decision-making:
“The most meaningful way in which joined-up climate action could bring meaningful results for youth is by ensuring that intergenerational justice is put at the heart of climate action. Instead of creating barriers, we collectively work together to address them. And that is not easy, but it is the only way to move forward if we want a just and sustainable future for all,” noted Ania. “I urge you to listen to youth perspectives and ideas, taking collective action when you return to your respective cities. From Dubai to Geneva, New York, Nairobi, or Bangkok, let's collectively act on the youth's insights for a sustainable future,” concluded Vlad.
In her closing remarks, Paloma Escdero, UNICEF’s Global Adviser on Climate Action for Children emphasised that the COP 28 represents a historical moment for climate action, positioning decisions to be more than ever are people-centred “The agreements to protect the 1 billion of children at risk of climate change is the most important commitment, not only of the humanitarian community, but also development and peace actors. It is impossible to talk about one sector without the other two, and thus we need us a comprehensive approach implemented via the nexus and through joined-up collective action.”
It was a ground-breaking moment, to be part of the first ever Humanitarian Hub at COP 28. The UNICEF-led/co-led clusters and area of responsibility side event was greatly appreciated by the organizers – the UN OCHA, as well as the diverse audience. Through our work in coordination, we will continue to promote joined-up action for #collectiveoutcomes to drive a more efficient response to the increasing needs of those most affected by and vulnerable to crises in fragile and climate-affected contexts.