Tackling climate change in fragile states and protracted crisis situations

Date: Monday, 18 October 2021
Where: Online
Person walking behind an animal-drawn carriage.

The protracted crisis in Sudan has led to emergency-levels of malnutrition across the county (Photo: EU/ECHO/Anouk Delafortrie via FlickrCC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

This IIED Debates event on Monday, 18 October explored the role humanitarian agencies can play in tackling climate change in protracted crisis situations.

Many of the world's most climate-vulnerable countries also suffer from protracted humanitarian crises linked to conflict, displacement and state fragility. Climate change is already making these crises more severe, with serious consequences for poor and vulnerable people, and especially women, girls and displaced people.

As climate change worsens, it will become increasingly difficult for humanitarian agencies to address the needs of people affected by conflict and disasters unless majors reforms are made in the way that they work.

This online event asked what needs to change and what role can humanitarian agencies play in tackling climate change in fragile states and protracted crisis situations?

Climate change presents a major challenge for the governments of countries that are fragile or affected by protracted crises that often have neither the resources nor the political will to prioritise climate adaptation or resilience building. Humanitarian agencies also tend to prioritise short-term humanitarian interventions and find it challenging to integrate climate action into their humanitarian programming.

Climate change places an added burden on communities that are already struggling with the effects of poverty, conflict and displacement, and may contribute to the creation of environmental, socio-economic and political conditions that exacerbate conflict and undermine governance in these contexts.

As climate change accelerates, will humanitarian actors be able to keep pace with the impacts of climate-related disasters in these contexts, and what do they need to do to meet the challenge of the climate emergency?

This IIED Debates event brought together an expert panel of grassroots activists, humanitarian organisations and expert researchers to discuss the challenges that climate change poses for vulnerable people in fragile states and protracted crises. Our speakers debated how humanitarian agencies – both international and local – can tackle the intensifying risks posed by climate change in these contexts.

Does climate change cause conflict and contribute to state fragility? How can humanitarian actors mitigate climate risks or support adaptation while also responding to immediate humanitarian needs caused by conflict and displacement?

How can displaced people be supported to achieve durable solutions that are also resilient to climate change? How can humanitarian agencies support local actors to tackle climate risks more effectively? And what practical reforms do humanitarian actors need to adopt to address climate impacts and risks in these contexts?

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Juliette Tunstall (, IIED's internal engagement and external events officer