a global conversation about the effects of climate change on human lives
© Katja Renner/ European Union, 2022
Climate change is the most urgent and defining crisis of our time. But what is its direct impact on human lives?
Around the world countries are already suffering from its consequences.
If climate change affects everyone, everywhere, its impact on vulnerable and poor communities is even more devastating.
The climate crisis is also a humanitarian crisis.
Every year, millions of people are forced to flee their homes due to increasingly frequent disasters, such as floods, cyclones, droughts and forest fires. In 2020 alone, 30,7 million people were internally displaced because of disasters – accounting for over 75% of the people estimated to have been internally displaced that year.
By 2050, the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance every year could rise to over 200 million.
In 2021, the EU allocated € 150 million to help communities affected by natural hazards fulfil urgent needs, such as food assistance, health, water, sanitation, shelter and rehabilitation of basic infrastructure. In addition, every year the EU allocates an average of € 50 million of its annual humanitarian funding for targeted disaster preparedness actions. Climate change exacerbates existing humanitarian crises and disrupts the efficacy of humanitarian aid operations.
The past couple of years have shown that countries across Europe are also not immune to climate change. From deadly rainfalls and floodings in Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium, to forest fires in Greece and Spain, climate-change-related disasters are becoming more frequent and destructive, everywhere in the world.
With the #ClimateConnect campaign, the EU wants to engage young Europeans in a global dialogue about the consequences of climate change on human lives.
To shed light on how climate change impacts lives of youngsters from vulnerable and hazard-prone communities, #ClimateConnect presents the personal stories of Karen from the Dominican Republic, and Britta and Jaqueline from Zimbabwe. In both countries, the EU is currently providing direct assistance to support disaster preparedness and education programmes aimed at improving local communities’ response to extreme weather events.
The Dominican Republic – as many other small island nations around the world – faces recurrent challenges related to extreme weather events. From rising sea levels to increasingly violent hurricanes, the adversities caused by climate change threaten the survival of entire communities. These challenges add to pre-existing issues that local communities face, including large numbers of Haitian and Venezuelan migrants, who escaped poverty and violence in their homelands and are now at risk of being further excluded from disaster response operations due to their legal and economic status.
Thanks to the EU humanitarian funding, local NGOs can carry on specific projects aimed at building the resilience of local communities to extreme weather events and sudden emergencies. As of now, more than 5 000 children aged 5-17 are taking part in risk reduction and disaster preparedness trainings. Through these, younger generations of Dominicans learn how to deal with a variety of skills, from awareness-raising techniques, through evacuation, responsiveness and emergency drills, to first-aid trainings. Educating the younger generations is crucial for bringing knowledge into their households and building resilience throughout entire communities.
In Zimbabwe, rising temperatures and severe weather result in a higher likelihood of desertification and drought in many regions of the country, leading to issues such as internal displacement, food insecurity, water scarcity, increased risk of epidemics, and social conflict. This is also the case in the Manicaland region, struck by cyclone Idai in 2018, which was followed by a severe drought in 2019.
Here, the European Union is funding projects offering basic education to climate-displaced people and refugees to help them prepare for future natural hazards.