Guidance note: Climate and fragility in the post-2015 policy architecture

2016 has been a catalyst year for action on climate change, disasters and development under the new global processes agreed in 2015 – the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Paris Agreement and the World Humanitarian Summit.

However, explicit recognition of the linkages and interconnections between different risks – be they climate, disaster or security risks – is largely absent in the 2015 policy architecture.

Successfully translating these agendas into action requires institutional reform to help link different communities of practice and work towards collective and strategic outcomes.


The changing nature of humanitarian crises requires addressing multiple risks together

More than 50% of people affected by ‘natural’ disasters live in fragile and conflict-affected states. And many high-profile disasters have occurred in difficult environments, such as the Haiti earthquake of 2010. (Harris et al., 2013)

According to the Global humanitarian assistance report 2015, disaster aid for 2014 rose for a second year running to a record $24.5 billion. Yet this was still insufficient to meet humanitarian needs and it is unlikely that humanitarian aid funding will increase to meet the growing needs.

Humanitarian assistance to people affected by conflicts and disasters

Unprecedented levels of displacement

The available funds need to be deployed more cost effectively. This can be achieved by designing interventions capable of addressing multiple dimensions of vulnerability (climate, disaster and conflict risks) and a shift to funding crisis prevention rather than response. Both of these require funding architecture under the current aid frameworks in order to enable cross-sectoral programming.

Here, Alert’s former Head of Environment, Climate Change and Security Janani Vivekananda talks about the linked nature of risks and how climate change can amplify social, economic and political stresses:


The lack of linkages in global frameworks prevents joined-up policy and responses

A lack of linkages in global frameworks currently makes it harder to design policies and achieve practices that address the risks and opportunities associated with the climate, conflict and disasters on the ground – especially in fragile contexts. For example, the last mention of conflict and violence was removed from the final text of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015.

Connecting the dots between conflict, climate change and disaster policy frameworks

Meeting climate, development, humanitarian and peacebuilding goals, however, needs more than policy processes. It requires transformation of the very institutions that are tasked with delivering on these promises, and breaking through sectoral silos by linking different communities of practice. We need to move beyond short-term, project-driven responses and work towards collective, strategic outcomes.

Previous guidance note: Understanding and responding to compound risk in fragile and conflict-affected states

Further reading

Photo: The closing ceremony of COP21, Paris, France. UN Photo (Creative Commons)