Communicating the Challenges of Climate Change Adaptation in the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement

Monday, July 14, 2014: 10:30 AM
Room: 302
Oral Presentation
Kerstin ROSENOW-WILLIAMS , Faculty of Social Sciences, Inst Law of Peace & Armed Conflict, Bochum, Germany
The paradigm of climate change adaptation (CCA) plays an increasingly important role in various types of civil society organizations (Foran/Widdick 2012; Hall 2013). The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement discussed the topic of climate change as a humanitarian challenge for the first time in 1999. The foundation of the Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre (RCCC) in Den Haag in 2002 institutionalized this new organizational commitment to address climate change induced challenges in disaster preparedness and the securing of livelihoods. Today, CCA is being discussed as a cross-cutting issue in humanitarian projects across the 187 national Red Cross/Red Crescent societies. The communication of climate risks to reach various target audiences from local communities to national stakeholders and volunteers to donors at the institutional and individual level has become a key challenge in the process of organizational change. This paper comparatively analyzes three different methods of communication that address CCA issues in the Red Cross/Red Crescent movement. First, the different visualization tools of the vulnerability and capacity assessment are analyzed with a focus on community based perceptions of climate change (RCCC 2010). Second, participatory games that model complex dynamic systems and that are facilitated by the RCCC from the local to the national level are discussed as a tool to foster awareness on the complexity of climate change impacts for local livelihoods and disaster preparedness at the level of donors and practitioners. Third, the climate change campaign of the German Youth Red Cross is analyzed with regards to its approach to motivate young people and the general public to address a complex issue in their volunteer work. Together, these case studies illustrate the need to find innovative ways to communicate and simplify the complexities and uncertainties that are linked to changing environmental factors.