ECOSOC Humanitarian Affairs Segment Highlights Synergies between Climate Change and Humanitarian Communities
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15 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 […]

15
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
2008].

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