“Climate change, multiple crises and collapse: what can the aid sector do to anticipate and adapt to the major changes ahead?”

Humanitarian actors know about the terrible impacts of disasters caused by nature’s fury and the suffering that people caught up in conflicts, poverty and political crises have to endure. But will the aid sector be up to the challenges that lie ahead? With the risk of our societies breaking down, what might be its role, and how might it prepare for such a development?

These are the questions that have been discussed at the 12th edition of the Autumn School on Humanitarian Aid. If we accept there is a possibility that the global system might collapse, we have to ask ourselves what the aid sector’s position, role and responsibilities will be. We need to look at what the future of aid might be, and humanitarian action in particular, in contexts that are not likely to be conducive to international solidarity and cooperation between countries. We also need to analyse past and current crises in order to improve our understanding of how individuals and communities react to shocks, and learn lessons from this. We need to explore the changes that this implies as of today.

The attached document looks at this issue which, although extremely topical, is nevertheless rarely analysed in its entirety or systemically, taking into consideration not only climate change, but also the other crises to come due to biodiversity loss and the end of non-renewable resources. Based on existing research, the aim is to present possible scenarios for the future, then to look in detail at the international aid sector and what the consequences of these transformations might be for aid architecture and aid practices in the short, medium and long term.

This event brought together more than 70 people over three days, including collapsologists, disaster management and humanitarian action specialists, representatives from the UN, the European Commission, the French Ministry of European and Foreign Affairs’ Crisis and Support Centre, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, specialised research centres (Geneva Centre for Security Policy, the Univeristy of Colorado, the Swiss Army Research Centre, and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center), elected representatives, aid organisations and, of course, numerous NGOs (ALIMA, CARE, Électriciens Sans Frontières, GRET, Handicap International, Médecins Sans Frontières, Médecins du Monde France, Secours Islamique France, Solidarités International, OXFAM, etc.).

Videos will soon be posted online to make all plenary sessions accessible. A special issue of our review Humanitarian Aid on the move, to be published in January 2020, will also be devoted to this theme.

© Daniel Bryant

Speakers to take part:

  • Corine Morel-Darleux, Auvergne Rhône-Alpe Regional Councillor
  • Dominique Raynaud, Emeritus Research Director at the CNRS and a former member of the IPCC
  • Pablo Servigne, independent researcher, author and speaker
  • Fernando Briones, Professor at the University of Colorado
  • Aurelie Ceinos, Climate & Resilience Specialist, CARE International
  • Grégoire Chambaz, Deputy Editor of the Swiss Military Review, member of the Scientific Committee of the Centre d’histoire et de prospectives militaires
  • Bruno Jochum, Research Fellow in residence at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP), former General Director of MSF Switzerland’s Operational Centre in Geneva
  • Philippe Thomas, DG for Development and Cooperation – EuropeAid, DG DEVCO
  • Sylvain Ponserre, Internal Displacement Monitoring Center
  • Arthur Keller, trained engineer, lecturer, trainer, consultant and author
  • Gaëlle Nizery, Prevention Preparedness global issues – team leader, DG ECHO