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The facts

01. Facts

Today, there are around 400 extreme weather events every year, about four times as many as in the 1970s. In a warmer world, more extreme weather events will affect all people, but those most at risk are the most vulnerable individuals and communities – those who are the poorest, most exposed and have the least resources to withstand climate shocks and stresses, including those facing conflict, violence and, insecurity.  

In 2016, weather-related events accounted for 23.5 million displaced persons, and the majority of refugees originate from, and live in, climate hotspots, exposed to severe flooding, heat waves and drought.


extreme weather events per year, 4 times as many as in the 1970’s


million people displaced because extreme weather-related events in 2016


billion people living in 100 countries are threatened by desertification

02. Impact

The vast majority of disaster and climate-related displacement occurs in the Asia Pacific region. In the last 10 years, more than 80% of all disaster displacement was in Asia, because of mega-disasters such as the Typhoon Haiyan and the 2017 monsoon season which affected 42 million people in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula have experienced the worst famines in decades which affected 20 million people.

The livelihoods of nearly one billion people in some 100 countries are threatened by desertification. Every year about 12 million hectares worldwide are lost to land degradation, and the rate is increasing.

In 192 countries around the world, Red Cross and Red Crescent staff – with the support of no less than 14 million volunteers – are addressing risks linked to disasters and climate change.

03. Need

The impacts of climate change are unevenly weighted against the world’s most vulnerable people – those who are the poorest, most exposed and have the least resources to withstand climate shocks and stresses. Efforts and actions to address climate change must prioritize, and not leave behind, the most vulnerable to its impacts.

Climate change is making our humanitarian work harder, more unpredictable, and more complex. It increases disaster risk for millions of the world’s most vulnerable people and compromises people’s ability to sustain their sources of livelihood, especially in poor and under-developed countries, and in contexts of conflict, violence and insecurity. It may also trigger events of unprecedented magnitude that can render current humanitarian response capacity ineffective, with dramatic consequences for those affected.

"In order to avoid risks getting out of hand in the long term, we will need to do something about greenhouse gases. But in the shorter's really urgent that we look at adaptation to climate change."

Dr Maarten van Aalst,
Director, Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre

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04. Action

In a world of rising climate related risks, the needs of vulnerable people can only be met by reducing needs and supporting communities to adapt. Yet, less than 10 percent of global climate finance goes towards resilience and adaptation. More finance dedicated towards adaptation is needed to reduce greater suffering of the most vulnerable in the coming years.

In particular, finance must reach and enable people and organisations at the local level – those that bear the brunt of the impacts of climate change. Red Cross and Red Crescent National societies are working to build long term resilience and strengthen the capacity of communities to overcome increasing hazards.

In addition, Forecast-based Financing (FbF) is a mechanism deployed by the IFRC to enable access to humanitarian funding for early action on extreme weather events. FbF enables Red Cross and Red Crescent disaster responders to anticipate extreme weather events, prevent their impact, and if possible, reduce suffering and losses.