With the conclusion of the 18th Conference of Parties (COP 18) in Doha, Dr. Mohammed Al-Maadheed, Head of Delegation for the International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said he had seen encouraging signs during the negotiation process but reiterated the urgent need for further commitment to prevent "irreversible damage to humanity."
Dr. Al Maadheed, who is the Vice President of the world's largest humanitarian network and President of the Qatar Red Crescent Society, said that governments need to invest more in preparedness and risk reduction. He said "Climate change is a threat which is not going away and we urgently need to adapt and be better prepared."
Addressing the high-level plenary session on the closing day, Dr. Al Maadheed reminded governments of their collective responsibility to better protect those at risk from the potentially devastating impact of climate change. He said "We witness every day the worsening impact of climate change on the lives and livelihoods of millions of vulnerable people. The humanitarian impact of a changing climate is not a future threat. It is a daily reality."
Leading a delegation of 33 Red Cross Red Crescent representatives from over 12 countries, including Ethiopia, Mali and Bangladesh, Dr. Al Maadheed said "Communities around the world urgently need to be better prepared. The international community needs to be more ambitious by investing more in adaptation, preparedness and risk reduction."
As permanent observer to the United Nations, the IFRC is granted a privileged role during each edition of the Conference of the Parties (COP) organised by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Comprised of 187 Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies and supported by some 13 million volunteers, the IFRC has provided a community-level perspective of the humanitarian impact of a changing climate to policy-makers since the COP-6 negotiations. This year in Doha, the IFRC Delegation continued to carry the message of at-risk communities in order to advocate for legally-binding agreements that tackle the root causes and symptoms of climate change. Red Cross Red Crescent representatives encouraged policy-makers to include measures within their National Adaptation Plans that strengthen citizens' abilities to prepare for and cope with the changes around them.
Dr. Al Maadheed took the opportunity of addressing the high-level segment to remind decision-makers that the vast network of Red Cross Red Crescent staff and volunteers have a unique, privileged access to vulnerable communities at a local level. He stated that "The IFRC stands ready to work with Governments to reduce vulnerability and strengthen climate resilience, notably within the framework of National Adaptation Plans."