The climate and environment crises are humanitarian crises, threatening the future of humanity. They are already affecting people’s lives and livelihoods around the world, and their impact is growing all the time. While these crises are affecting all of us, those most affected by their consequences are the poorest and most marginalized communities, whose capacity to adapt is already strained, owing to armed conflict, displacement, weak governance, unplanned urbanization or poverty. All of these situations are exacerbated by structural inequities and by people’s individual characteristics, such as age, gender, disability or livelihood.
The Charter sends a clear signal that humanitarian organizations have a key role to play in addressing these crises. We must be a part of the solution and help people adapt to a changing climate and environment, while also increasing our own environmental sustainability. This needs to be a collective endeavour, as it is clear that no organization can tackle this alone. This Charter intends to provide a clear vision and principles to guide humanitarian action in the face of the climate and environment crises.
The development of the Charter was led by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and guided by an Advisory Committee of 19 people, including representatives of local, national and international NGOs, UN agencies and National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, as well as academics, researchers and experts in the humanitarian, development, climate and environmental fields. This committee represents and is linked to a number of important humanitarian networks, including the International Council of Voluntary Agencies, the Alliance for Empowering Partnership, InterAction, the Environment and Humanitarian Action Network, the Steering Committee for Humanitarian Response and the Inter-Agency Standing Committee sub-working group on climate change.
Between December 2020 and March 2021, discussions were held with more than 150 organizations and over 200 individuals. The organizations included more than 50 national NGOs/local chapters of international NGOs, national and international NGO networks and forums, components of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, the IASC sub-working group on climate change and UN agencies. Consultations were in the form of virtual meetings, bilateral discussions, two open consultations for the whole humanitarian sector and an online questionnaire. The draft was also shared widely through the networks of various organizations, including the IASC.